Everything has a purpose. Cars were invented to replace horses as a more convenient and, arguably, cheaper means of transportation. Sports drinks are efficient ways to hydrate athletes than water alone. This blog exists to further my establishment within the marketing community. Everything has a purpose, a reason for being – this extends to companies.

Eliyahu Goldratt claims the goal of a company is to make money, but that is not its purpose. Starbucks, for example, exists to deliver an experience to its customers and establish a unique culture all its own. Starbucks does, however, make a good deal of money. This allows the company to stay afloat and continue fulfilling its purpose. As a few have said in the past, “businesses don’t exist to make money, they make money to exist.”

The “four Ps” of marketing help to establish the marketing mix. After defining a product, the company focuses on setting a price, determining a place to offer its goods, and creating an appropriate position in the market. “Purpose” should always be considered as the overarching fifth P of marketing. What purpose does the product fill?  What is the purpose of a particular price point? Why is the product offered in this place rather than another? Why take this position in the market versus one closer to/further from the competition?

When opening for business, every responsible businessman should consider the question, “what is my company’s purpose?” Answering this question is the first step to building a successful company and establishing a lasting brand. The answer leads to more questions that help define the “four Ps” later on.

Assume for a moment that we are starting a hot dog restaurant. Our purpose is to provide an inviting restaurant for our customers to enjoy the best hot dogs in the state. Ambitious, yes, but consider what questions we can answer now: “How will we prepare our hot dogs?" “How will we balance the quality of our hot dogs with their cost and, ultimately, the price the customer pays?” “Where will we establish our restaurant?” “How will we differentiate from other hot dog vendors?”

These are the questions marketers seek to answer every day in defining marketing strategy. Like every idea, these questions had to start somewhere. Instead of brainstorming 20 questions about our new operation, the answer to one question has defined four. Answering these questions will lead to more, but we will have accomplished something. Understanding the color schemes of our restaurant or the flavor soda in the fountain machine is meaningless information if we cannot answer these four questions.

What is the purpose of your business? Did you answer that question before or after opening your doors?