Is it important to promote your company and brand through a corporate social responsibility program and strategy?
Yes, according to business leaders and consumers.
One definition for corporate social responsibility is the obligation of an organization toward the interests and welfare of the society in which it operates. And while some say CSR strategies are for big business, there is a growing awareness among mid-sized and small companies that engaging in it has real and tangible benefits to a company’s image and bottom-line.
Two-thirds of companies in the mid-sized category responded to a survey stating they are actively looking to improve their engagement in the communities where they are either based or doing business. Doing so will improve their overall brand image and profitability, they believe.
Consumers more and more are looking to engage with businesses that reflect some of their personal values and causes, and that’s why companies believe they have a greater obligation than just their bottom line.
A 2013 study by Nielsen surveying a broad base of global consumers found that 50 percent of those responding are willing to pay more for goods and services from socially responsible companies. The results were up 5 percent from a similar study in 2011.
RETURN ON RESPONSIBILITY
Social media also have been game changers by providing both consumers and businesses avenues to express themselves and what they believe in.
When a business publicly espouses a cause and what it might be doing to support that cause, it attracts consumers who are like-minded.
Part of this stems from an archetype whereby many people want to be part of something bigger than themselves. It follows that if someone identifies strongly with protecting the environment, he or she will look for purveyors of goods and services that share that belief.
And as more results are studied, these people in many cases are willing to pay more.
GOOD IMAGE, GOOD PRESS
A business defining a CSR strategy can be innovative in identifying what it is willing to support and how it reflects on its overall brand.
Will supporting a particular cause improve its public image? Does it provide for good press?
Will it attract new like-minded customers by developing a CSR strategy?
Does its strategy engage employees and do they feel part of something bigger?
BACK TO SCHOOL
There are CSR opportunities for small enterprises.
Many find opportunities in education. The approach can include many different facets, but the appeal of putting a CSR program aimed at education is that it is usually right in your community.
A CSR program aimed at local education could include sponsorship for school events, scholarship programs and volunteerism by a company’s staff for things such as mentorship programs, tutoring and even internships.
Embarking on a CSR journey means ensuring that your corporate values are reflected in the causes you choose to support. There should be congruency between both.
And you should tout how the two are congruent through social media, your company’s Facebook page and other mechanisms.
Your brand and what you stand for as a company can become powerful messaging tools that segments of your customer base will rally around and attract like-minded new customers to you.
Marianne Chester is founder and CEO of mEnterprise Solutions LLC, a strategic services consultancy based in Stroudsburg. She can be reached at 570-460-9599 or firstname.lastname@example.org.