By Michael Scher
“Great brands don’t just support existing causes or charities—they pioneer positive social change,” according to Denise Lee Yohn, writer for Forbes.
Great brands create value for themselves when their efforts are selfless because they know their role has a direct impact and contribution on society. Their goal is to make the world a better place because it’s the right thing to do, nor expecting a financial gain or reward from their actions. A business is only as strong as its environment and the role it plays in protecting its own community. Similarly, it’s a great way to humanize your brand and differentiate yourselves in the eyes of the consumer and organization.
Over the years, social responsibility has played a greater role in the business environment as everyone’s focus has transitioned to be part of something bigger than themselves.
Specifically, here are some key findings on how consumers view the importance of this paramount and vital initiative:
- “81% of consumers around the world want companies to address key social and environmental issues; 93% say companies should go beyond just legal compliance to operate responsibly; and 94% expect companies to analyze and evolve their businesses to make their impact as positive as possible.”
- “94% of consumers surveyed say they are likely to switch brands to support a cause if both brands are similar in price and quality.”
- “94% say they would buy a product that has an environmental benefit; 76% have already done so in the past year.”
- “93% would buy a product associated with a cause; 65% have already done so in the past year.”
In addition, Cause Marketing is an effective way for a company to play their part, while generating positive media coverage in giving back. Not to mention, Cause Marketing can increase shareholder value, generate awareness and broaden your constituency.
However, before launching these efforts, please follow these essential steps:
1) Pick your non-profit wisely: It’s imperative to partner with an organization that represents the same values you embody and represent. It shouldn’t be just a check in the box selection process. Make sure you do your homework and research to ensure the values align synergistically. Ask yourself, does my company values align with their greater cause at hand? If I was a consumer, would I receive this partnership genuinely or are their underlying interests not being addressed upfront in the public eye? And is the spotlight being shined on the organization or the non-profit?
2) Integrate the cause into your company culture: The cause and backstory of the charitable organization you’re involved with should be engrained in the workplace culture and should inspire all to play their part in lending a hand from day one. From a leadership perspective, you’ll receive stronger buy in because employees will attach weight to something meaningful, especially with Senior Leadership. It’s bigger than who you are.
3) Don’t just give money, GET INVOLVED! To truly lead by example, your business should take on a greater role than just fundraising. Ask yourself, what ancillary services and/ or assets can my company provide to support their mission? Are there volunteering efforts where my employees can participate for an all-day event? How can we raise more awareness and increase support? Another great option is to incorporate corporate giving programs, where consumers view purchasing your products or services as a means of giving back, while obtaining value for something they would have paid for anyway.
4) Be transparent, demonstrate impact: Keep your consumers abreast of how your donations and services have helped, and impacted the organization in some way. Consumers are quite smart and aware, and want to be kept up to date on the progress and value you added. Rather than tell them, show them directly! They want to be part of the journey and see how you impacted them positively. Above all, make sure your strategic communications focuses more on the cause you’re supporting rather than your company. If your efforts are genuine, people will take notice, and more importantly, so will the media with free earned exposure.
5) Harness the power of social media: As we’re all aware, social media can help increase the scale for promoting any Cause Marketing initiatives because it allows you to connect with likeminded individuals that are passionate about what you’re doing. Utilize content to engage with others and tell your story through blogging, photography, and even short/ long form video. Build a call to action that empowers others to get involved and play their part. Cause Marketing should be a collective action and take on the focal point as “WE,” rather than a singular point of view.
In the end, the goal is to create a shared value across your company and the non-profit organization. Imagine the role marketing can play in building value for others. The possibilities are endless and it’s time for everyone to play their part in giving back.
What is your organization doing to make your community a better place to live? And how have these initiatives transformed the way your business is being perceived in the public eye and in the workplace?
As always, I welcome any and all comments and if you like what you read, be social and share.