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January 1, 2009


Purpose Driven Marketing

by deirdrewalsh

The most basic questions that everyone faces in life are “why am I here?” and “what is my purpose?,” according to Rick Warren’s book A Purpose Driven Life.  With the dawn of the new year, I’ve been asking the same questions about my role at National Instruments as well as its entire community marketing program.  When I began this professional soul search, I revisited Jim Collins and Jerry I. Porras’ book Built to Last.  This staple in the business world clearly outlines why some coporations struggle to last or fade away in a short period of time, while others in the same market, thrive.  One of the rules discussed is “Preserve Your ‘Core Ideology”….or preserve your purpose.

According to an article in AdWeek, GSD&M Co-Founder Roy Spence said, “I sensed that everyone was selling the same thing. We started believing that the values of the organization would drive the business beyond the need for good product, good pricing, good people. It was powerful.”  This was the birth of the ad agency’s Purpose Insitute.

A few months ago, I got to hear more about GSDM’s purpose at SWOMFest (see my notes hosted on Twine here) from Haley Rushing, founder of the institute.  She explained that her team of social scientists “dig deep into a company’s historical psyche to understand then define its purpose. The benefit of that exam work: companies with a well-defined purpose tend to have stronger levels of word of mouth and customer evangelism.”  Haley nailed it.  I wanted to ensure that I use the NI purpose to increase customer evangelism.

So, I took a step up and looked at National Instruments as a whole.  I’m lucky enough to work at a place where the strong leadership drives the entire organization with this purpose:


I’m not saying that NI is a utopia where nobody has a bad day, but it is a place that even when I come home from the office exhausted or upset that a meeting didn’t go “my way,” I know that the products and services I market enable the amazing community of LabVIEW developers to change the world.

And it’s more than just a tagline – I’ve seen it first hand when kids get excited about engineering while playing with LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT at a First LEGO League competition, and when I met Paul Sullivan at NIWeek and learned about his image processing projects, or even more recently when I read about a customer who built a life-saving spider robot. Yes, you read that correctly!

I’ve also seen that “cult-like cultures,” which are also discussed in the Built to Last book, can inspire, or even more apparent, be fueled by a rabid fan-base.  And I’m not talking about the Facebook Fan, I mean true evangelists.  Daily, the awesome LabVIEW Champions,  are using “innovative NI tools to engineer a better world” and because of their success they are able to evangelize NI products.  This is more valuable than many traditional forms of marketing.

Some social media folks say, “I’ll take a customer quote over a pricey ad any day.”  The approach I take at NI is take that quote and turn it into an ad that people can actually relate to and share.  It’s the best of both worlds.

Does your company’s purpose inspire word-of-mouth marketing?

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Emilie
    Jan 15 2009

    Nice post, D. You’re right in that it feels good to work at a company like NI that has strong core values. Especially during these times, it feels good knowing that NI leadership will not compromise the company’s core values while tackling financial challenges.

  2. Mike
    Mar 2 2009

    Just passing by.Btw, you website have great content!

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