In the current age of technology, millennials and Gen Z are more aware and socially conscious than ever. If you look around, you will notice a shift in consumer expenditure on sustainable and purpose-driven brands that put their socially-responsible projects at the forefront. Any socially positive or negative decision your company makes will largely affect your brand image and purpose. Social Impact marketing considers this notion when devising a method to promote your business and is an extension of more traditional marketing. On the surface, the aim is to offer the right product or service. However, social impact marketing goes beyond that to target the customers’ relationship with the brand. By portraying an image that they care about society and are doing good for its sake, companies improve current customer loyalty and extend their outreach to new clients.
Why Social Impact?
Social impact begins with having a purpose. A brand’s purpose is a powerful tool that can boost its reputation, spike sales, and increase employee engagement. According to Forbes, 73% of Millennials choose products from more environmentally sustainable brands. The same source says that around 2/3 of Gen Z customers do not purchase from companies that do not share the same social values as they do. To stay on top, companies must make a change or risk losing to competitors.
Finding out the company’s purpose starts with asking why the brand exists, what its products offer, and how the brand adds to the customer experience. Purpose differs from ‘mission’ and ‘vision’ as it typically targets the main question of ‘why’ the company exists other than to make a profit or increase shareholder value. Fifty of the most highly successful businesses were found to be driven by a purpose. This purpose should be evident in all social elements, logo, website, channels. If you don’t have them yet, hire a website designer, use a logo maker for visuals, and start your channel to share your message.
How to Integrate Brand Purpose with Social Impact?
Once the questions about purpose have been determined, brands can curate a social marketing campaign. Social impact marketing requires the following essential ingredients regardless of your chosen approach.
Know Your Customers
Like with everything, you need to know your customers to better assess the right social impact marketing strategy. Knowing your customers will help you launch the right campaign, use the right marketing platforms and collaborate with the right people. If the values of your customers do not match what your business stands for, this could backfire with disastrous consequences. Businesses will have to actively engage with customers, employees, and other stakeholders to better understand values.
Create a Genuine Connection between the Business Model and Social Impact
The closer your business model is to the social impact, the more authentic your brand purpose becomes. For instance, Tesla Motors is attempting to transition towards sustainable energy that aligns with its electric cars. Forcing a purpose just to fit in and bag more sales will never sit well with customers who have strong morals. A good example is Exxon Mobile, which got caught advertising a specific set of ads toward political liberals while simultaneously advertising different ads to political conservatives. In the end, both sides were unimpressed, and the campaign ended up causing more damage than good. This practice is known as greenwashing, where companies preach what they don’t practice just for economic benefits. Due to rising rates of greenwashing, customers have become even more critical and cautious of companies’ claims.
The younger generation is much harder to fool as they thoroughly do their research on the company’s environmental or social claims before offering their loyalty to the brand. The widespread rise of cancel culture and YouTube exposé accounts are always on the lookout for companies making one wrong move so they can profit off of their mistakes. For this reason, it’s imperative for a brand to be authentic when making social impact claims.
Take Meaningful Action Backed by Brand Purpose
Companies must also continually take substantial and meaningful action to translate business purpose into social impact. To truly make a difference, the business will need to assemble the right team and resources. Employees and other company stakeholders should also be encouraged to participate in social volunteering, which will depict the brand’s genuineness in what it stands for. Moreover, encouraging employees to volunteer is an efficient way to involve the staff in social impact activities that consequently help boost morale. According to a study by Deloitte, 74% of employees reported that volunteering provided them with an improved sense of purpose. By encouraging a culture that pushes employees to give back, organizations can also empower the rest of their workforce to get involved with issues that are important to them while instilling a sense of collective purpose.
Another way companies can take meaningful action is by forming strategic collaborations with non-profit and non-governmental organizations that directly help solve the world’s most serious problems. Customers can view this collective effort as a great way for companies to combine resources with humanitarian organizations to make a significant positive impact.
Implementing elaborate social impact initiatives and programs is not always easy, especially for small businesses. In such cases, companies can inspire socially positive change through social media and blogs.
More than ever, social impact marketing is rising as consumers are more educated, aware, and socially responsible. Forcing your business to hop on the bandwagon without backing it with a brand purpose comes off as insincere and greedy. Knowing your business purpose first and then building on it to create social impact will help your company advance.
Businesses that are new to incorporating social responsibility in their marketing mix can greatly benefit from the guidance and expertise of a Social Impact Agency. This can help them create an authentic and effective marketing campaign that aligns with their customers’ values and beliefs. Doing so will allow them to target a savvy audience that is full of potential buyers while contributing to the greater good of society.