using CSR to sell your Small Business Brand

Tuesday May 24, 2016 - 1 Comment
Corporate-Social

Corporate-Social

Ever heard the saying “doing good pays” and from the old popular Ghanaian song “if you do good, you do for yourself”? well these statements are all true right down to the letter. It seems obvious that consistently doing good will absolutely benefit good results, but as an entrepreneur, It’s not the case. Once you are planning on doing good, there must be a strategy to its implementation and the value it potentially holds for you. Even the most religious people know that in doing good, there is a hope of good returns to the person. The bible says to do good and expect a REWARD in heaven. Keyword being reward. What’s the key to winning over consumers today? Business experts will cite everything from a strong loyalty program to a personalized, mobile-friendly shopping experience. These offerings are certainly important, but one thing that may tip the scales in your favor is using your profits to do good in the world.
As a business you will be looking at doing good in a structured way, but if you understand what is to be gained when a business does good, you will not wait until you are making good revenue before starting to offer a helping hand of sorts to the society around you. CSR – corporate social responsibility, refers to a business practice that involves participating in initiatives that benefit society. These days, your customers expect more from you. From the services you provide, to the products you sell, and now even when your products are sourced – consumers are demanding higher and higher standards from the companies they buy from. The term CSR generally describes any business activities that not only deliver commercial objectives and meet legal requirements but also have a positive social and/or environmental impact.
With rising customer expectations, it can be wise to have a CSR strategy and policy which takes into account the interests of your wider community and those of the local environment. We appreciate that it may seem a little unnecessary to formalize what is basically ‘responsible business practice’ into a specific policy; but it can have significant advantages to your business and marketing activity. For example, environmental issues are likely to be of real concern to a manufacturing firm that needs to address waste management; meanwhile, a business in the personal services sector may wish to focus on community involvement. At ehjuma, we have a policy to assist students and potential employees by giving them the right training and environment to develop their real world working skills.we do this through speaking and mentorship engagements, in office internships, student training programs and mentor/mentee adoption programs.

So how can companies tap into the benefits of CSR? How about using this as a selling point for your business?

Here’s our three top tips to consider as a way of benefiting your business and standing out from the crowd by using Corporate Social Responsibility in your marketing as a brand differentiator:

1. Support your local community!
Increasingly, businesses are trading not only products and services; but on their reputations and brand value, especially within the local area. If you work with local suppliers or you employ local people then shout about it, because it shows you’re supporting the local economy and community as a business!

Tips:

  • Work with local suppliers to support the immediate economy
  • Become a key sponsor or ambassador of a charity, sports team or community project in your local area
  • Promote CSR initiatives by giving out promotional items to promote your business/cause – recycled or eco products are a great way to do this!
  • Write press releases/blog posts about your recruitment and employment of local people, and use of local suppliers to emphasize your commitment to the local/regional economy.

For example, a key message to your customers could be: ‘Here, at X we are ambassadors of a local charity and regularly support fundraising efforts to raise awareness of the cause and to encourage donations. We hold an annual Easter Fun Day and donate all proceeds to the charity’

How will this help your business?
Aside from enhancing your local area and supporting charities and/or community groups you will also be provided with the opportunity to raise your profile in your region and promote your business at the same time. Why not think about press and radio coverage of your charity events to further promote your brand? It could be a great way of generating new leads or help with current customer retention at the same time as reinvesting your time in the community that you work in. for instance, i am not sure i can persuade my wife to use any other network just because Vodafone has a doctor helpline that is toll free and they have a TV program for advising the general public on health matters. What has her stuck is the medical support they give out to needy persons with serious needs, she says she feel her money is being used for good.

2. Employee engagement…happy staff = happy customers!
The employees of an organisation are key stakeholders, who need to be motivated, involved and stimulated to perform their tasks to a high level; and a healthy and happy workforce is not only important for employees, but it is also beneficial for your business. Actively supporting CSR in the workplace and encouraging training and personal development will ensure your employees are working to the best of their abilities and feel fulfilled at work.

Tips:

  • Encourage your staff to come up with ideas for CSR projects – Being outwardly involved in CSR as a business can contribute internally to improved employee perceptions, motivation and staff retention
  • Why not take on an apprentice or run a work experience scheme with local schools? This demonstrates that you are investing in the next generation of talent by helping young people make the transition into the world of work.

For example, a key message could be: ‘Here, at X we run a work experience program with a local high school to give young people the opportunity to learn about the industry, engage with customers and gain experience in an office environment.’
How will this help your business?
Employees are far more likely to perform at their peak if they feel they can be themselves and are well respected in the workplace. This will reduce the costs associated with absenteeism, reducing the need for frequent recruitment and creating a healthy and happy workforce.
3. Go green
Many companies are now facing both employee and customer pressure to be more environmentally friendly.

Tips:

  • Promote the use of online policy documents to encourage paperless operations, and recycle any paper that is thrown away
  • Encourage your staff to switch off their monitors, PCs and other equipment at the end of each day. Also think about using low energy light bulbs too.
  • When sourcing promotional merchandise to promote your brand, look out for companies who put ethical sourcing at the top of their agenda, and use recycled products where possible

For example, a key message to your customers could be: ‘Here at X we carefully monitor our energy usage and operate a paperless environment where possible. We also run an initiative to encourage all staff to walk or cycle to work twice a month to reduce our carbon footprint’
How will this help your business?
A combination of increasing demand for energy, and targets set by the Government to reduce carbon emissions means that energy and fuel costs are likely to remain high in the long term. By taking small steps, you can work towards reducing costs in these areas.
Remember though; CSR should be part of your long term wider business strategy and not just short-term tactical marketing. A CSR promotion can be a fantastic short-term proposition though, and the best CSR promotions are those that are linked in some meaningful way to your brand’s core product or promise. For example if you’re a clothing retailer, you could donate clothing to homeless shelters.

Shout about it!
Finally, once you are doing it, shout about it. Put it out there on social media, in the radio, use your network to get news sites and traditional media houses to give your some coverage. with the right pull you might even be able partner some of the media houses into assisting, and thereby get free marketing mileage from them. If you already do some of these things then why not add a ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ section to your website or incorporate some of the key values into your mission statement or company’s brand values? If you don’t, it’s really easy to start making some simple changes to the way you work and to start telling people about it!
I will be excited to hear your comments on how you have used CSR in the past or plan to use CSR in the future. If you want to partner us in doing some outreach for you young people, sure reach out to us in the comments below or drop me an email at paakojo@ehjuma.com and i will be sure to reply soon. all the best and have a blessed week.
Shalom and Remember, Dress up and show up, sometimes that’s all you really need to do to make a change.

 

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