What is mission-driven marketing & why is it so important?

Chris Esh


Reposted Feb 10, 2023

The best part of having a mission-driven business or nonprofit is making a real difference and reaping the “feel-good” feelings of supporting something greater than yourself. That is exactly why we work primarily with nonprofits and mission-driven businesses–we also like this feeling. We can’t get enough of it.

You can use this passion, this drive you have in your primary mission, to fuel your marketing. Through your authentic fire and natural passion, you can help to get people just as excited as you are about what you’re doing.

It’s so popular there’s even a name for this type of marketing: mission-driven marketing.

But what is mission-driven marketing?

Mission-driven marketing is when an organization uses its core mission as the foundation for its marketing communications.

You may assume that mission-driven marketing can apply only to nonprofit organizations. However, it isn’t just for nonprofits. In recent years we’ve seen more businesses embracing mission-driven marketing as the foundation of their marketing efforts.

Think about a company such as Tom’s. They’ve centered their marketing around their widely proclaimed mission, which was to donate one pair of shoes for every pair of shoes purchased. And it’s successful. It’s difficult to separate Tom’s from its mission because its mission is what all of its marketing is centered around. Its story is told through its mission.

The best part of having a mission-driven business or nonprofit is making a real difference and supporting something greater than yourself. That is also what draws people to your organization–the story behind it, the mission surrounding it, and the feeling that, by associating with you, they too are supporting something greater than themselves.

So why does mission-driven marketing work?

Mission-driven marketing works because, when done correctly, it can resonate profoundly. If a business’s mission resonates with someone, oftentimes, that person it resonated with will be a loyal customer, and will probably tell their friends, who will also tell their friends, ad infinitum. The marketing that allows the audience to participate in the mission, inviting them in–those are the ones that are often shared organically and resonate the loudest.

Businesses with strong mission-driven marketing philosophies

A couple of examples of companies using mission-driven marketing exceptionally well include:

United by Blue is a Certified B Corp clothing, accessory, and camping tool purveyor that doubles as your local coffee shop. They’ve committed to reduce their use of single-use plastic, organize community clean-ups, and preach the sustainable nature of their materials. Check out their website for a case study on implementing a mission-driven marketing philosophy into your online hub.

Triple Bottom Brewing, who is aptly named after its “triple bottom line” business philosophy, which means they prioritize “people, planet, and profit” in its bottom line. Located at 9th and Spring Garden in Philadelphia, they work with various nonprofits, including the Youth Sentencing and Reentry Project to find job applicants who have struggled with finding employment due to their incarceration or even homelessness.

Both of these mission-driven companies are based in Philly, so be sure to show your support!

A mission-driven marketing philosophy can be any mission that resonates with your target audience, as seen from the several success stories above. By using your story and your mission to fuel your marketing, you can invite people in to help you achieve your mission, no matter what it may be.

And don’t feel boxed into any one type of method for showing your support towards a cause. Many businesses donate a percentage of profits towards charitable causes as a way to align with a deeper mission. But practices like those implemented by the companies above resonate strongly with audiences. Don’t be afraid to get creative, there are plenty of causes out there that your brand can align with as part of an overarching marketing philosophy. The more niche you can get, the better.

How to do mission-driven marketing well as a nonprofit organization or business.

Now that we’ve discussed why these companies use mission-driven marketing, let’s discuss how to do it well.

1. Tell a story.

Nobody likes a fraud. If you’re going to promote your business with a mission-driven philosophy to create a marketable brand, ensure it’s done for the right reasons. Draw inspiration from your organization’s past and tell a compelling story that inspired your organization to get involved. We’re naturally drawn towards listening to great stories. If you can make your client or customer correlate your organization with a compelling story, you’ll create credibility that won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

2. Connect with people who align with your mission/story.

It’s one thing to have a mission-driven marketing philosophy, but it’s an entirely different thing to connect with people who have the same values. You’ll want to figure out where people with those same values hang out on the internet or in real life. Focus on connecting with them in those spaces rather than trying to convince someone who doesn’t care about your mission to support your cause. A good place to find people who resonate with your mission is through interacting directly with them–through Meetup, an online forum, Reddit, etc. There’s no substitute for word-of-mouth, and the only way to get your mission and story out there is to actually tell people.

3. Measure your success in quality over quantity

The best way to show you care is by creating quality work–not just once, but consistently. Before you publish, promote, create, or say anything, first make sure it aligns with and adds to your mission and your story. With a strong mission and quality work to back it up, you set yourself up for success in creating loyalty with your donors, members, or clients. Once you build up trust with your supporters, many of your new members/clientele will be driven in by personal recommendations from your existing followers. But they will only recommend your organization if follow through and exceed expectations.

4. Work with organizations who share your mission

It’s also smart for you to team up with other organizations that share your mission. If you are a for-profit business, consider teaming up with a nonprofit organization. If you help them out, they may be inclined to recommend your business to their members and supporters. Keep your eye out for mutually beneficial relationships with other supporters of your cause as you already have something in common.

5. Make sure you’re in it for the long haul.

Don’t support one cause this month and another cause the next. Get personal with whatever cause you to decide to support, and be sure to roll with it for the long haul. Otherwise, your support may look like a one-off marketing stunt for publicity reasons rather than genuine support.

In summary

Mission-driven marketing can be a great way to attract new eyes to your business or nonprofit if done correctly and for the right reasons. People are increasingly attracted to organizations that aren’t afraid to support a cause close to their heart and speak out about mainstream issues. Mission-driven marketing works best if you can create a genuine connection with your cause and the supporters of the cause. This can be done through telling stories, remaining authentic in your reason for support, and focusing on the quality of your efforts over quantity.

Having a mission-driven marketing philosophy can help increase brand loyalty, spread awareness, and have other positive impacts on your business or nonprofit. Do some research into what kind of people support the mission you’ve chosen, and why they are drawn toward it. Figure out where you can connect with them to create an authentic connection that will make them die-hard fans of your business or organization for life.

The best part of having a mission-driven business or nonprofit is making a real difference and reaping the positive feeling of supporting something greater than yourself. Sure, there are plenty of monetary benefits to mission-driven marketing that we’ll get into, but be sure to remain authentic and remember the reason why you wanted to support the cause in the first place.


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