Google Firestarters #10: Planning for Good

Last week I popped along to Google Firestarters – a brilliant event hosted by Neil Perkin at Google’s office in Central St. Giles. It’s a quarterly debate around the theme of agencies, marketing and innovation.

The theme for this session was ‘Planning for Good’ (something that particularly interests me as a subject matter, what with the launch of earlier in the year.)

First speaker up – planning legend John Grant.

John Grant was actually presenting via Google hangouts, from a villa in Italy. I’m not sure it was meant to be a Google product demo, but it worked pretty well as one.

He talked about ‘good’ sitting in three main areas; organisations that receive donations, marketing that acts as a conduit for donations e.g (red), and marketing with a social mission, like Dove.
There’s a fine line when you try and get a whole organization to ‘do good’. For some organisations – other company actions don’t stack up with the message.

In that instance, you get greenwashing – marketing spin designed to promote the perception that an organization is good-natured in some way.

That sort of hypocrisy can actually do more damage. John quoted an old Arabic proverb which fits that pretty well – ‘A good deed dies when it’s spoken about.”

Essentially – you need to make sure you’re acting like a human being not a marketing professional.

Next, we had Nick Hirst – head of planning at Dare.

Nick shared some thoughts from Dare’s latest whitepaper ‘How to make money & Feel good about yourself.’

Nick talked about the dichotomy we face when it comes to company objectives.
Milton Friedman advocated that a company must make money first – the first commitment should always be to the shareholder. Due to this, most companies have to slip improving people’s lives in the backdoor without spending an awful lot of money on it.

Nick argued it should be the other way around – Making people’s lives better is a much better purpose for a company.

Not only that, it seems to be more profitable.

When you chase after money directly, you can often fail. One example – Boeing’s share price tanked when it changed its mission from ‘Solving the worlds toughest problems using engineering’ to ‘maximise shareholder value.’

He summed it all up in this tidy model.

Finally, we listened to Sam Conniff from Livity.

Sam also talked about purpose – stating it’s the key to all success and competitive advantage.
Livity works with young people in and around Brixton.

They’re not an agency, but last year they were awarded best Marketing agency 2012.
They’re not a school, but they have a glowing Ofsted report.
And they’re not a social cause, but they’ve recently won a Big Society award.

Sam described Livity as a ‘more than profit.’ I kinda like that.

He talked about the purpose curve, and how it informs everything that they do with the kids. Giving the kids some inspiration pushes up their ambition.

Inspiration in. Ambition out. Bit more inspiration in. Bit more ambition out.

The talk was fantastic – and it’s well worth checking out a similar clip of him at TedX Brixton.

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