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Why are Stephen Hawking, Bill Nye the Science Guy, and other such legendary figures so popular? One simple reason: They are able to explain complex concepts in simple words that help people understand scientific theories on the fly.

So let’s get scientific and look at three explanations of why purpose-driven business works.

1. Purpose touches people’s hearts

Purpose-driven business is intrinsically tied to people’s emotions. For instance, when companies prove in an authentic way that their purpose is to improve healthcare or preserve nature, it touches our hearts.

An emotional purpose establishes a relationship between a company and its customers. Former Apple CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs understood that such relationships are much more powerful than simply selling products via advertising.

This notion becomes even more significant when we consider recent research that indicates that emotionally connected customers are more than twice as valuable as highly satisfied customers. This is because satisfied customers may buy more products from a company, but emotionally connected customers also recommend the company to others and pay more attention to its communication.

2. Purpose triggers self-actualization

Purpose-driven business also meets the need of customers for self-actualization. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs states that every human being strives to satisfy his or her basic needs in life. These needs include security and food as well as the ability to have intimate relationships and to achieve a feeling of accomplishment.

The highest need in Maslow’s hierarchy is self-actualization, which basically means that people strive to find something to identify with (such as a purpose) in order to achieve their full potential.

Here’s a simple explanation like Bill Nye the Science Guy would offer: Your customers want to satisfy their basic or social needs with your products, but they also want to identify with your company and even express some kind of attitude when buying your products. A business that offers an authentic purpose therefore satisfies, or at least supports, its customers’ need for self-actualization.

This concept holds true for employees as well as customers. According to sales leadership consultant Lisa Earle McLeod, employees also strive for emotional connection with their work. She explains that this is because most people strive to be part of something bigger than themselves.

3. Purpose transforms customers into fans

Last but not least, let’s consider people who have an emotional connection with a company or product and who also identify with the object of their attention—in other words, fans. Fans are not associated only with sports teams; you can find them in many areas, including consumer brands. For example, when someone uses the phrase “fanboy,” I think of Apple fanatics.

There are many reasons customers become fans of a company – including social influences, personalities, and others. But according to Peter Herrnreiter, digital marketing director at Nerdio, an essential element for transforming customers into fans is to offer an emotional purpose. And the great thing about  fans is that they are not only loyal, they also build relationships with companies and become, well, fanatical about them.

In short, purpose-driven business works because it touches the emotions of customers and satisfies their need to identify with something that’s important to them. This combination of emotion and cognitive fulfillment can transform your customers into real fans.

This article originally appeared on Digitalist Magazine, in the Improving Lives section. See here.

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