Marketing Hall of Femme 2015: It’s All About Purpose


For a person’s life to have true impact, it has to have purpose.

American Red Cross CMO Peggy Dyer says that’s true both personally and professionally. And it’s equally as true for businesses—both nonprofit and for-profit. “That’s the importance of purpose; it helps you stay grounded and helps guide your leadership,” Dyer said to a ballroom of senior marketers during her keynote speech at the 2015 Marketing Hall of Femme hosted by Direct Marketing News in New York. “As marketers, we need to always lead with purpose.”

Center stage in front of the MHoF honorees, their colleagues, family, friends, and supporters of the Femme movement, Dyer encouraged leading marketers to get up each day and think about purpose—not just the bottom line. She said that for the American Red Cross team, purpose means people helping other people: “It’s simply in the blood [at the American Red Cross]; it’s in our DNA. I encourage you to have that same purpose.”

Dyer said that marketers today—including those at for-profit B2B and B2C companies—need to have three qualities to remain impactful: grit, heart, and authenticity. It’s a formula that she said has enabled the nearly 134-year-old organization to stay top-of-mind and at the fore of help and relief.

“Grit is really that perseverance,” she explained. “It’s sticking with something day in and day out. When you can combine grit with purpose, that’s when you can achieve your goals year-over-year.”

But she warned that grit alone isn’t enough.

“Stats are important for any marketer. Honestly, I use them with all of my decisions. But you can’t be effective [with those statistics] without heart,” Dyer insisted. “It’s the heart [of a company] that makes a huge difference in your marketing; in your messages.” She said the mission of her organization is undeniably rooted in heart: “That’s what we do; American Red Cross helps turn heartbreak into hope.”

“And I’ve learned over and over again about authenticity,” Dyer continued as she reflected on her own poignant life lessons. “I remember when I was originally diagnosed with breast cancer. I didn’t know if I should share. My CEO [at the time] encouraged me to, and I decided to be authentic. There was so much outpouring of support for me—and the brand. So, I’m encouraging you to do the same. Be authentic as a brand.”

As Dyer wrapped up her final remarks to the crowd, she again encouraged marketers to embrace purpose in all of their relationships with customers, employees, and supporters. “Go back to that purpose every day,” she said. “Then I guarantee that your customers will follow you in what you’re trying to create.”

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