Every new year starts off with the best of intentions, with many of us setting New Year’s Resolutions that usually include some sort of positive social component. The problem with New Year’s Resolutions is that only we can hold ourselves accountable to them, and more often than not, that accountability tends to relax after the first few weeks or months. It can feel like a losing battle which ends up negatively impacting us emotionally.
But what if this was instead a company-based undertaking, where the company not only helped their employees reach their personal resolution goals, but also implemented business level resolutions within their work processes, or more specifically, within their digital marketing? This type of “social responsibility” is what many companies have added into their daily processes, to not only broaden their marketing reach, but to also feel good about the work they do.
What Exactly is Social Responsibility Marketing?
Social Responsibility Marketing is defined as a marketing philosophy wherein a company takes the best interest of society, both present and long term, into consideration when making business decisions. It is critical of excessive consumerism and environmental damages caused by corporations, and therefore mandates that any projects or processes be mindful of its impact on society. This aspect of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is specific to marketing, but CSR has been mainstream since at least 1960. The idea is that private businesses self-regulate in order to contribute to society via an activist or charitable nature by implementing pro bono programs and assisting organizations for the benefit of the public.
The value of social responsibility marketing is a long-term endeavor, but it can directly affect the branding and financial baseline. Incorporating any plans should take the following into consideration:
- The initial costs of the marketing strategy.
- The potential of alienating an audience segment.
- The potential of cross-advertising.
- The potential of brand perception.
- The potential impact on work culture .
Some Examples of Social Responsibility Marketing
Social responsibility marketing can be created in a variety of ways, with a number of categories. Most businesses focus on environmental, economic, philanthropic and ethical causes, and here are a few examples of these choices in action:
- Subaru’s #SubaruLovesPets campaign – this project focuses on promoting the adoption of shelter pets. They went even further with their “National Make a Dog’s Day”, encouraging people to adopt dogs with special needs. Using their marketing channels, audiences were able to follow the stories of these underdogs getting their forever home.
- Ben & Jerry’s – this company has always had a reputation for using its product to “change the world”, and as the years have progressed, they’ve added more and more causes to their list of good deeds. From social and economic justice to human rights and dignity to environmental protection and regeneration, Ben & Jerry’s has done it all.
- Patagonia – though they had always donated 1% of their sales to environmental efforts, in 2018 Patagonia handed over the company to a trust that addresses climate change. From this point on, any profit not reinvested into the company would be used to further their environmental efforts.
Identifying Social Issues that are Relevant to Your Company’s Values and Brand
As we mentioned above, many businesses consider environmental and charitable issues when choosing a recipient of their CSR. It’s a layered process with many variables to consider. First and foremost, identifying social issues that are relevant to your company’s values and brand is the most logical start. Not only should you consider the present, but you should look to your company’s past. An audience can smell inauthenticity a mile away, and if your company has never promoted social responsibility in the past, it could reek of jumping on a trend.
A company should also listen to what is important to their employees (this is where we connect back to personal resolutions!) and what can be done to assist them. If an issue is important to the employees, then by all accounts, it should be important to the company. When employees feel seen and heard, especially in regards to what stirs their souls, there is no doubt that company morale will rise.
Explore Collaborative Partnerships and Alliances with nonprofits and NGOs.
At some point, whether it’s at the planning stages or years down the road after implementing social responsibility marketing, having the opportunity to create partnerships with nonprofits and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) can be beneficial for everyone. Once all the details have been hashed out in regards to the alliance, then you can start getting down to business. The potential marketing opportunities for both businesses will continue to grow, and the social reach will rise as the work evolves. As for the social impact, that should also continue to expand. Just be sure to structure the relationship mindfully, and don’t be scared to evaluate and amend as needed.
Make Authenticity, Communication, and Transparency Your Top Priorities
Earlier we touched on the importance of being authentic, but it’s important to not gloss over how crucial it really is. From the start, a company needs to be transparent with not only their employees, but with their audiences, and offering authentic communications with their priorities will help begin that process.
It’s not enough to just begin marketing social responsibility, as that will show as completely inauthentic. A business must thoughtfully and transparently plan their intentions, their procedures, and execute with the objective of being long-term. Anything less will not be accepted and will colossally backfire.
Make Social Responsibility Initiatives Part of Your Company Culture
One way to encourage employee engagement in social responsibility is to make it part of the company culture. Everything we’ve said so far would seem to make this idea a no-brainer, but we want to be very clear – it can be tough to individually dedicate time to social responsibility, so if the company includes it as part of the culture, then no one is going at it alone anymore. As the company reaps the rewards financially, the employees reap the benefits of doing good. As long as it comes from an authentic place, everyone benefits.
Be sure to get your business on track in a socially responsible way and contact Blink;Tech if you have any questions!