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Here's How to Focus on the Right Thing (Instead of Everything) Kellyn Smith Kenny, Chief Marketing and Growth Officer at AT&T, explains the power of defining your company's purpose.

By Entrepreneur Staff

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Working hard isn't enough — for a business to have real success, team members from the top to bottom of the org chart need to be aligned on what your company is trying to achieve.

So says Kellyn Smith Kenny, Chief Marketing and Growth Officer at AT&T. Kenny says that before getting into the weeds of strategy and tactics, every leader needs to first focus on defining their company's purpose: "This ensures that every employee and decision is focused on the right things instead of everything." Kenny spoke to Entrepreneur about why defining your purpose is vital — and the tactics you can use to make sure it is implemented across all areas of your business.

Why is finding purpose important for a business?

A company's purpose should drive and apply to everything you do — from business strategy and company culture to customer experience and day-to-day employee decision-making. Your customers and employees, whether they're new or have been with you from the beginning, need to feel a direct connection to the work and what you have to offer — it's that simple. Purpose rallies your employees around a single inspiring reason to come to work, which makes the work experience more fulfilling and in turn retains and attracts people to the company. Inspired employees not only drive better performance but creates more emotional bonds with customers and each other.

Related: How to Find Purpose in Your Business Projects

How does a leader go about pinpointing their company's purpose?

It starts with understanding what the values are that drive your decisions and goals. How does the company do its best work, what is unique about your approach to culture, and what steps can you take to always put your people and customers first? The purpose should be clear in the goal, and also in the path to executing it. In AT&T's case, the path to our new purpose ("Connecting people to greater possibility – with expertise, simplicity, and inspiration") began through a process that started by looking inward. We ran a series of co-creation workshops with people from every corner of the company. We explored our history, analyzed insights from past research and gathered input from thousands of customers, prospects, and employees. Then we tested and measured how well it captured the spirit of our people, customers, our role in society, as well as our legacy and ambition for the future.

Photo credit: Kellyn Smith Kenny

After you define it, how do you put it into action?

Some employees are influenced by their peers, some by their leadership and others need to see the data, so you need to do it all. One of the simplest and most useful resources we created was a purpose filter. It's a simple, Q&A-style worksheet that can be applied to any activity or process. Employees use this filter to weigh decisions and help them prioritize. The filter asks specific micro and macro questions that can be worked through like a checklist. From "Have we listened carefully to what customers need?" to "Have we eliminated all unnecessary steps?" to "Is this something you will be proud to share with a friend or colleague?" This tool made our purpose actionable and accessible to all employees, which shows that everyone has a role to play.

What do you think is an undervalued skill in marketing?

A true expert is generous in sharing their knowledge, but more importantly, is an intense listener. Your customers are probably telling you exactly what they want, you just have to listen. If not, ask. There are more ways to engage directly with customers than ever before. Whether you're meeting them face-to-face, relying on chat, or mining the comments in your social channels, every interaction is an opportunity to hear them.

Related: 7 Steps to Living Your Life With Purpose

What are the big marketing trends entrepreneurs should know about in 2023?

Connectivity will be the backbone of innovation across all categories from solopreneurship to startups to global enterprises. We're projecting households to triple their number of connected devices from 2021-2025, which will 5x increase data usage on our network, creating hero moments for the companies who deliver best-in-class content and product experiences at faster speeds and lower latency.

Entrepreneur Staff

Entrepreneur Staff


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