Top Considerations for a Socially Responsible Marketing and Sales Campaign
Having a business is a great way to make a difference in society. Many people think that companies focus solely on making money, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.In reality, a business allows you to bring something unique to the marketplace. As a business owner, you have complete control over your production, fulfillment, sales, and marketing. And that means you can present a perspective that people need to hear.
Running a socially responsible business does make a difference. From companies like Ben & Jerry’s making their voice heard in the dairy industry to Lego’s partnership with the World Wildlife Fund, there are dozens of ways to be a voice for change.
However, you have to make sure your sales and marketing campaigns are in line with your company values. Here are some things to keep in mind as you market your products or services.
Be Aware of Your Values
What is it that your company stands for? Are you focused on making a difference in renewable energy, helping the homeless, or promoting social justice? While all of these are great and important goals, your company will be most effective if it focuses on one area.
Many businesses tie their social responsibility directly in with their product. Bombas socks has a program where every purchase of a pair of socks means another pair is donated to a homeless shelter for those in need. Google’s data center uses 50% less energy than others its size. Some companies focus on sustainable fashion.
You might decide on donating products, showing your commitment to sustainability with eco-friendly packaging, or making sure you use renewable energy. The specifics will depend on your specific business.
Other companies choose to focus on charitable giving to organizations that do important work, such as nature conservation or social justice. Either way, you’ll want to choose your issue of focus and make sure you’re vocal about what matters to you.
Spread the Message
Once you’ve chosen the issue you’re focused on, it’s time to spread the message. Use marketing campaigns to make it clear who you are and what you want to accomplish. For instance, Bombas socks has TV and online commercials that share the give-back program.
You can use social media outreach, contests, word of mouth, and influencers to spread your ideas. Draw a clear connection between the purchase of your products and services and the difference you’re making in the world. A “buy-one, donate-one” is very clear. A commitment to renewable energy is more challenging to display, but it’s essential to find a way. Perhaps you can talk about your energy-saving processes and your commitment to the environment(marketing).
As you get the word out, customers will be able to purchase from you knowing that they’re helping to create change in a critical area. In fact, 66% of consumers are willing to pay more for goods from a brand that demonstrates social commitment.
Walk the Talk
One of the biggest mistakes companies make is “greenwashing,” or using environmental or other social ideals to improve sales without actually making changes to their business practices.
You have to make sure that your company policies, processes, and work environment reflect the changes you want to see in society. Are you focused on promoting diversity and inclusion for people of color? Walk the talk by hiring minorities into key positions and making sure your Board of Directors has diverse representation.
It can be easy to lose sight of even the most compelling social goals if the company is struggling, but never make the mistake of making short-term gains at the expense of the long-term effect. You can’t just look good — you have to be good. Everything from your in-house work to your supply chain needs to match your mission.
As an example, you can look at Nike. While they have recently tried speaking out on racial justice, they immediately received criticism because they are known to employ child labor and pay low wages in other countries. If they really cared about justice, they wouldn’t have those practices as part of their company.
As a company that is founded on social principles, you can’t afford to fall short yourself. If you fail to live up to the standards you espouse, eventually the public will find out. When they do, your brand will be significantly damaged and you may never recover.
Make Sure Everyone is on the Same Page
One of the places where social responsibility can break down in your business is if leaders or employees in your company aren’t bought into the social message. While you don’t need to build a cult-like atmosphere, be sure that everyone you bring in understands the importance of your mission and wants to help move it forward.
A lot of companies emphasize hiring for cultural fit just as much as hiring for skill. This is especially important in a company that’s focused on social responsibility.
Only 19% of marketing leaders believe that their brand’s values match their actions. When you hire responsibly and share your message as much inside your company as outside, you can stand out.
Your Business Really Can Change the World
A lot of times, we can see the challenges we face in society and feel overwhelmed. We feel like one person can’t possibly make a difference. But that isn’t true — with some organization, patience, and a long-term vision, you can create a business that changes the world.
A business allows you to do more than you could do alone. You bring together a team to create products or services that people need and do so in an ethical, socially responsible way. Not only that, but your customers also become part of the movement when they purchase from you.
Over time, a single company can grow into a voice that affects policy, supports non-profits in their work, and much more.