Your Social Consciousness Is An Asset To Your Business
Corporate giants are spending billions of dollars today on initiatives designed to make them appear more socially and environmentally conscious because they’re finally waking up to the fact that “social profit” is as valuable an objective as financial profit.
According to Leonard Berry in Discovering the Soul of Service, a company creates social profit by sharing its talents, leadership, and money to make a bigger, more meaningful difference in the world around them.
Research shows that social profit boosts the bottom line because it enhances your company’s reputation and visibility, converts customers into loyal fans, and enriches employee recruitment and retention. As for its impact on sales, consider this:
More than two-thirds of Americans say they consider a company’s business practices, such as its environmental friendliness and treatment of employees, when deciding what to buy
87% of consumers will choose a company that supports a worthy cause over one that doesn’t, if price and quality are similar.
Many conscious solopreneurs and small business owners are pursuing the same kinds of initiatives-just on a smaller and less formalized scale. The difference is we often dismiss these efforts as irrelevant to our “real business.”
But your social and environmental initiatives give the prospect insight into your values and help establish that all-important emotional connection. So instead of overlooking the good that you do, create a strategic plan to leverage your limited resources for maximum impact.
Tips for creating your Social Profit Plan:
1. Focus, focus, focus. Instead of haphazardly writing a lot of small checks and volunteering here and there, choose one cause to rally behind. Ideally it should be one you are enthusiastic about, that is relevant to your company’s mission, and which appeals to your target market.
The same goes for environmental initiatives. Choose one or two areas that are relevant to your business instead of trying to tackle everything at once. Reducing waste and energy efficiency are usually good places to start.
Keep in mind that the cause or initiative itself is not nearly as important as having a genuine commitment to it. Customers are becoming increasingly savvy at distinguishing genuine efforts from purely promotional ones.
2. Identify where you can have the largest impact. For your charitable efforts, look for one organization which represents your cause and allows you to be a visible, big fish in a small pool. It’s far better to support a number of events and projects throughout the year than to be one sponsor among many for a single big event. Consider how you can leverage resources besides cash as well.
Environmentally, look for opportunities that can save you money in the long run, such replacing incandescent lighting with fluorescent and halogen bulbs, or exchanging outdated equipment for new Energy Star models. Also, where’s the easiest place to start so you can get the momentum going?
3. Get the word out. Send out press releases. Post articles and photos on your web site and in your newsletter. Hang signs in your office that explain what you’re doing. Instead of a “look how great we are” message, talk about why you’re doing this and share stories that show how the non-profit is benefiting.
Make the results of your efforts to go green visual. Again, photos can help, or go online to find equivalents that paint a picture. It’s much easier for people to relate to statements such as “The newspapers we recycled would form a stack 12 feet high” or “The energy we saved could power 200 homes for a year!” than citing pounds or kilowatts reductions.
4. Measure and evaluate the results. Whatever initiatives you choose, you must track your progress and results to see what’s effective and worthwhile-for both you and your non-profit partner. It’ll also provide valuable material for your communications.
Far from being irrelevant, your social conscience is an asset to your business. It can differentiate you from competitors, forge stronger connections with prospects and clients, and enhance public perception about your company. All of which translates into a stronger, more sustainable business.
Meet the Author Tracy Needham
Tracy Needham has written 40 Articles on Small Business Delivered.
Tracy Needham launched her business in 2003 after more than a decade in marketing communications-the majority of which was spent in the financial services industry. Her last job in the corporate world was creating and managing the competitive affairs function at a mutual fund. www.compellingcomm.com