The Social Impact of Marketing: Purpose, Authenticity and the Role of Marketers in 2020

Jul 16, 2020

By KPI Target

Social marketing is a buzz phrase that’s often brought up in focus groups and strategy sessions as part of a greater conversation about how to achieve business objectives. A typical marketing blog might outline the benefits of social marketing, such as building brand awareness, establishing trust with target customers, or power charging the emotional resonance of a marketing campaign. 

Today, we’ll take a step back from the business side of the equation to look at how non-profits and businesses with purpose-driven initiatives can meaningfully impact the lives of their customers, and how marketers can support these efforts with integrity and intentionality. 

“Given the right situation, we can actually help create a lasting impact in peoples’ lives,” says KPItarget Founder and President, Mike Rowan. “Marketing comes with a sense of responsibility. Our job goes far beyond promoting things, and we always want to be thinking about the end user in all of our choices.”

In exploring how personalized marketing can impact the lives of individuals in their times of greatest need, we hope to be able to better understand our roles and more effectively dispatch our responsibilities as marketers going forward. Let’s look at some real-world examples to see how social marketing can contribute to the common good.

Project Porchlight 

The entire KPI Target team has been inspired by our client, Money Management International, and the noble work they have embarked upon with Project Porchlight.

Project Porchlight is a post-disaster financial recovery program focused on assisting families and individuals affected by natural or human-instigated disasters across the U.S. and its territories. It utilizes MMI’s nationwide network of trained counselors and educators to help consumers develop and execute a personalized recovery plan, bringing impacted families back to their pre-disaster ‘normal’ as quickly as possible.  

Beyond providing valuable financial education, tools, and support services, MMI recognized a need to address the unique challenges of people affected by natural disasters. Project Porchlight was born from an understanding of their target audience’s needs, and as part of their mission to provide financial assistance when and where it is needed the most.

Going Beyond the Call of Duty

Project Porchlight’s commitment to this mission was on display when two young women turned to them for help in the wake of a devastating tornado outbreak on Easter. The destructive storm pattern saw 140 twisters touch down across 10 states, the strongest of which ravaged southern Mississippi with 190 MPH winds, claiming eight lives in that area alone. 

Both young women were struggling financially before the F4 tornado, and tragically lost both their mothers and their homes in the disaster. Individually, they turned to Project Porchlight for help rebuilding their lives and recovering from the devastating tragedy.

Two Project Porchlight counselors gave magnanimously, not only of their time and effort, but also of their empathy and understanding. Given the exceptional circumstances surrounding the two affected women, the team at Project Porchlight organized and managed a GoFundMe giving campaign to address their immediate needs for housing, transportation and basic necessities such as clothing, eyeglasses and mobile phones. 

Project Porchlight’s inspiring response to this heartrending situation supports an authentic commitment to their core values and mission to provide personalized service that’s tailored to each individual client’s needs. 

Building Purpose into the Business Plan

This is a case-perfect example of an organization actively listening to its clients’ needs and pivoting to expand and adjust its services accordingly. Project Porchlight sought to build the lessons they learned into the core operating model of their non-profit organization to provide even greater service and support. 

MMI Director of Media & Brand Thomas Nitzsche explains, “We hope this is the impetus for regular philanthropic activity going forward as well as training for our staff to expertly handle bereavement and grief situations.”

Connecting Those in Need with Resources to Rebuild

KPItarget partnered with Project Porchlight to implement targeted search campaigns in areas where natural disasters have occurred. Using relevant keywords coupled with location targeting helped provide awareness around the complimentary recovery services available to those affected by the natural disaster in seven disparate geographic locations. 

This initiative is an example of personalized marketing designed to deliver helpful resources to those who need them the most. As marketers, when we act from a place of purpose and build trust with our targets openly and authentically, it becomes possible to provide meaningful value, and ideally, to impact society in a positive way.

The compelling case of Project Porchlight is only one such example of how organizations are responding to provide unique solutions to the pressing challenges of the day. 

Social Marketing in the B2B Market

KPI Target recently provided support to promote timely and targeted messaging for two different B2B clients that expanded their offerings in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic and associated financial recession.

Jackson Medical pivoted from producing medical safety devices for the operating room to face shields in order to meet a pressing need for PPE at a time when infection rates were skyrocketing and healthcare systems were pushed to their limits by a lack of access to adequate PPE. 

FINSYNC, a financial services company that helps small businesses with innovative software and payments solutions, launched a program designed to help both small businesses and banks navigate the often complicated intricacies of the SBA’s PPP loan program. 

The program helps small businesses navigate PPP with tools like an online application and free calculator to determine loan eligibility and forgiveness. They also provide best practices support and education for banks that are tasked with PPP loan processing and forgiveness determination. 

In each of these examples, we see organizations leading with purpose and authenticity, prioritizing service and trust-building before promotions or selling. 

As marketers and advertisers, we all offer different approaches and perspectives to our work. But it has become increasingly clear that we all share a responsibility in common, not only to our clients, but also to people and society at large. Marketing that keeps integrity and purpose at the heart of the work can connect with those in need to make a meaningful and lasting impact. 

If you’d like to chat about building social impact into your digital marketing strategy, contact KPItarget Founder and President, Mike Rowan at