You read the title and you are probably thinking that this is about cause marketing. If that’s the case, let me tell you first off – it is not.
Cause marketing is very much about spending money to promote your efforts both with the purpose of brand building and to get wider support. While there’s nothing wrong with that, this is not something I would like to address here. There’s something more important in my opinion that you need to take cake of first of all and that people tend to overlook – making sure the public understands your efforts are genuine.
Why this is important? Well, the relationship between business and customers has been redefined over the last years. Customers are not some outsiders that buy whatever offered. Through crowd-funding and crowd-sourcing platforms and opportunities, they’ve been able to actively donate funds, share ideas and provide solutions thus contributing to product development and innovation. Customers are no longer outsiders at all.
In a Harvard Review article called Purpose is Good. Shared Purpose is Better, Mark Bonchek talks about the customers’ need to have a shared purpose with corporations and to be a part of something bigger, to have influence.
And this is what I want to talk about here – effective communication of what you stand for so that your customers are able to understand first of all, why you do what you do. This is a cornerstone to making them a part of your story because how could they buy into your social cause if they don’t think you are genuine in your desire to help?
So these are the marketing strategies I would like to discuss here – marketing strategies that reaffirm your honesty:
Invite your customers to participate
Get customers actively engaged – ask them to volunteer, ask them to bring back old clothes or anything else that could be of help to your cause, ask them to contribute with ideas and solutions, ask them to raise awareness on your behalf. You need a chance to be with your customers and have an open discussion about your philanthropic efforts. The benefits are many fold. First of all, the more people participate in your initiative, the more support you will get and the more successful you will be. Regardless of whether we are talking donations of sorts, volunteering or spreading the word. Secondly, as people have grown cynical towards corporate philanthropy seeing it as a pure marketing tool, businesses are often perceived as guilty until proven otherwise. By making customers a part of your mission and talking to them about what you do, they have a chance to see for themselves that you are genuine indeed. Last but not least, if you show your customers you are honest in your effort and get them excited about your cause, you will have the best ambassadors out there. Something you can’t put a price on. The larger the community around your social mission, the more successful you will be, and the bigger social impact you will make.
Get your website to reflect your commitment
A website is oftentimes underestimated as it is more on the passive side when it comes to marketing. Yet, your website is a visitor’s first encounter with your organisation and something that your present customers will go back to time and again. That’s why, it is important that it reflects what you do philanthropy wise. Set up a page dedicated to your social mission and talk about why the cause you’ve chosen is important. More importantly – why it is important to you and how it resonates with your business. This second bit is essential because as mentioned earlier, people tend to be sceptical to corporate good-doing and with this being said, you want to make sure people understand so they can believe. Your website should reflect your commitment to your social cause with initiatives and events shown on the Home page and updates on what you are doing and what is being achieved.
Share stories in blog articles
If you haven’t got a blog section to your website – set one up and post articles regularly. If your articles are relevant to your business, it will help your website in terms of SEO (search engine optimisation) and it will help you in terms reputation and brand building too. But these are only some of the benefits of regular, quality blog posts. When it comes to philanthropy, blog articles are a great outlet for sharing stories about your social engagement. As Seth Godin, a marketing guru and author, says:
Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make but about the stories that you tell.
And I couldn’t agree more. To get people on your side, you need to get them excited about what you believe in. What better way to do that than sharing stories, communicating the importance of your cause and explain how you are making a difference?
Make the best of Social Media
Social Media is a powerful tool if you know how to use it. It is also very useful for communicating what you do and why you do it. Most importantly, Social Media is an amazing tool in terms of getting people engaged whether in a particular initiative or in your mission in general. What you could do here is announce events if you are organising any, invite people to volunteer at specific initiatives, ask them to spread the word by sharing and liking, you could share your blog articles here, share information and visuals that relate to your philanthropic endeavours, etc. Thus you will not only engage people but also reaffirm your commitment to your social cause.
Ultimately, all of your marketing efforts are with the purpose of getting people engaged and on board. Marketing of your philanthropic endeavours is no exception. Only here, your effort should be double as you won’t get a buy-in unless people understand why you do what you do. It’s worth it however because as the American author, salesman and motivational speaker used to say:
Honesty and integrity are by far the most important asset of an entrepreneur.
If you want to know about effective marketing of your philanthropic efforts or would like to incorporate philanthropy into your business model so that you not only make a difference but also grow your business, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. As a corporate philanthropy consultant with many years of business coaching experience, I can help you integrate meaning and purpose into your business in a sustainable way. You can get in touch with me, Paul Davis, here.