Standing up for what you believe in has always been an admirable trait. Whether it’s advocating for social reform, environmental protection or another form of action meant to drive change in the community, being proactive can make someone a more impactful civic leader. Nowadays, the same is being said for companies, as socially conscious consumers expect organizations to be making concerted efforts to improve the world around them. Such initiatives are known as corporate social responsibility, or CSR.
Ideally, a company’s CSR strategy should be seamlessly incorporated into their marketing strategies. That way, consumers are aware of the organization’s values from the start of the customer journey. Such transparency is important with today’s audience, as 88% want to know about a company’s CSR efforts up front.
More and more U.S. consumers are factoring these values into their own shopping behaviors. In fact, 87% of Americans will purchase a product because the brand proactively promotes beliefs and values in sync with their own. It’s not just customers who need to know: A survey showed that the financing decisions of 73% of investors are impacted by the company’s efforts to improve the environment and society.
Just as cause areas can vary by company, so too can their goals and values. However, at their core, social responsibility practices are meant to benefit society. They also often share added business benefits, which is to better connect to consumers, entice future employees with a positive culture and make the business more profitable through its philanthropic practices.
How can organizations best promote their purpose or their CSR strategy, investments and social impact outcomes to achieve these results? The first step in creating a smart marketing strategy is to effectively gauge the standpoints of the targeted audience. Gathering intel on what an audience values and what is expected of the brands it supports can be key to developing a company’s own promotional practices. Next, is to make the organization’s stances well known. Accomplishing this can be tackled in many ways, but the common aim is to engage the audience by effectively promoting the CSR mission.
One tried and true method organizations have employed is to initiate change from within. By linking the efforts of their marketing and human resources teams, organizations are implementing internal change that matters to employees. For instance, many are improving practices regarding equity, diversity and inclusion as a part of CSR work, and then evaluating their own internal track record on social impact to ensure internal company policies and practices are in line with social impact strategies.
Another method is utilizing company leaders to generate sharable content. From blog posts and short videos to interacting with the audience directly via social media, these thought leaders are giving the brand an authentic voice while simultaneously conveying the focus on social responsibility and the efforts being made in its name. Such self-promotion, whichever way it’s performed, is crucial in establishing a connection to the audience. However, the message must be genuine and have actual backing if it’s going to work.
For additional methods on aligning CSR and marketing strategies, please see the accompanying resource.