Building Stronger Brands by Serving Communities

These days, business leaders are going beyond building revenue and profits to also contribute to social causes. Impact investing and double bottom lines are emerging terms related to companies having measurable social and environmental impact in their communities. The possibilities for initiatives are endless, from hunger to affordable education to disaster relief. Best of all, both the communities and companies win.

Here are seven ways social activities positively affect businesses’ bottom lines.

1. Enhance customer loyalty:

With the social media boom, businesses are using new ways to communicate and engage people around their corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts. Customers choose your business over your competitors when they feel your company is trustworthy. It takes time to build the kind of loyalty that affects people’s decisions of who they buy.

Warby Parker has launched a “Buy a Pair, Give a Pair” program. For each purchase made, glasses are given to someone in need. The eye glass company has donated more than 150,000 pairs to date and earned thousands of fans (and customers) in the process.
CSR- Buy a pair Give a pair

Field data collected from 3,000 grocery shoppers by Ad Age shows that work by companies to benefit their employees and communities increases customers’ favorable opinions. According to the study, if retailers improve consumers’ perception of their fair treatment of employees by one point on a five-point scale, the resulting increase in share of wallet is approximately 1.7 percentage points. The gain from a similar improvement in local sourcing is even more pronounced at more than 2 percentage points. These numbers appear small, but they represent a sales lift of ten to 15 percent for the average retailer.

2. Improve business appeal:

The Reputation Institute’s 2011 “Pulse Survey” indicates that CSR is responsible for more than 40% of a company’s reputation. Ricoh builds trust and enhances attractiveness to prospective customers through action plans focused on the four key areas specified in their CSR charter: integrity in corporate activities, harmony with the environment, respect for people and harmony with society.

CSR framework (Ricoh)

3. Share content that inspires others:

Most companies struggle to get people’s attention. Marketers plan extensive campaigns but the pull of genuine efforts for good causes are better than the most innovative promotions. Customers are smart enough to determine sincerity and will support companies with integrity whole-heartedly online and offline. One example of eco-minded advertising was Patagonia’s brilliant “Don’t Buy This Jacket” messaging. Its initiative asks customers to pledge to only buy what they need and instead repair, reuse and recycle their clothing.

CSR- Dont buy this jacket

4. Involve your team:

Include members of your staff in planning, organizing and implementing CSR plans. Ask them to vote for the cause that they would like to support. It’s now common for businesses to dedicate special days where team members do hands-on work with charities. This not only builds teamwork but enhances companies’ reputations more than monetary donations.
Affinity Express regularly conducts on-the-job training for college students to help build their careers in the graphics field. Our team members participate and share their experiences to mentor these young people.

college student training pic

6. Motivate employees:

Team members now want more from their employers than paychecks. They want pride and fulfilment from their work and companies whose values match their own. A Hewitt Associates study looked at 230 workplaces with more than 100,000 employees and found that the more a company actively pursues environmental and social efforts, the more engaged are its employees. In a survey by the nonprofit Net Impact, 53 percent of workers said that “a job where I can make an impact” was important to their happiness and 72 percent of students about to enter the workforce agreed. Most would even take a pay cut to achieve this goal.

CSR Net Impact

CSR Netimpact2

6. Create relationships:

While working for community initiatives, you connect with many businesses. These interactions are very different from regular sales pitches and can build deep, long-standing relationships. When people come to know you through community service interactions, they also view your commitment and passion. You develop a rapport rooted in respect and trust while working together on projects which often leads to positive referrals in business.

7. Help to develop a city:

For businesses that depend on communities to sell their products and services as well as provide workforces, involvement in CSR activities is an integral role for management. Any activities that improve the way of life locally impacts the job market, as more and more talented people are motivated to stay instead of moving to other places with more opportunities. This impacts the economic and business health of the city.

The key is to incorporate CSR into the way you do business and your consumers’ experiences with your brand to make sure initiatives and messages resonate with them.

How have you applied CSR in your approach to business and its returns?

About Kriti Adlakha
I have been working in the field of marketing and brand development for more than eight years. My experience ranges from hospitality to media and IT products to outsourced services. During my journey, I have worked with print and new-age media and have enjoyed developing content. I have also learnt and worked on marketing tools like adwords marketing, analytics, CRM and the list is steadily growing. Having acquired post-graduate diploma in business management from IIM, Calcutta, I love new challenges and learn from each experience. In my blog, I share marketing strategies that enable small and medium businesses to market in a small budget. I also discuss how to use different online tools that can help businesses to monitor returns of their marketing investments. Above all, I love to hear back from my readers!

One Response to Building Stronger Brands by Serving Communities

  1. msienicki says:

    As always, your post is informative, interesting, and needs to be shared. Thanks, Kriti!

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