Karma Is The Key To Great CSR
It’s increasingly important for companies to be perceived as a force for good. Your corporate social responsibility activities can make or break your brand.
It’s increasingly important for brands to be perceived as a force for good in local and global communities. How corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities are strategised, executed and maintained can make or break your brand.
Just as modern marketing in general is increasingly focused on people and engagement over mere attention, you need that same mindset to make people care that you care.
If you are wondering whether doing good will do your business any good, just take a look at these insights from a 2015 U.S. survey by GMG:
- 64% (+ 4% since 2013) feel it is important to buy goods or services from socially responsible companies.
- 65% (+ 3% since 2013) bought goods or services from socially responsible companies in the past 12 months.
- 32% (+ 3% since 2013) plan to buy more goods or services from socially responsible companies in 2015.
Furthermore, a 2015 Cone Communications and Ebiquity Global CSR Study revealed that:
- Consumers state they have a more positive image (93%), are more likely to trust (90%) and are more loyal to (88%) companies that support social and environmental issues.
- 90% of shoppers surveyed would boycott companies if they found the firms engaged in irresponsible business practices.
- 53% actually boycotted (refused to purchase) a company’s products or services upon learning it behaved irresponsibly.
This clearly shows us the positive impact social consciousness can have on a business, and also how devastating the lack of having it can be. Furthermore, it leads me to suggest that we think of how a business can have a social impact that is positively strong, weak or even negative as something with nuances, both good and bad. Let’s think of it as Karma Strategy, just for a moment.
Using a slightly moderated Merriam-Webster definition, the word karma means: the force created by your actions that causes good or bad things to happen to you.
In other words, no significant action goes without any reaction, good or bad. How significant your actions are is entirely defined by the reaction from those you are trying to influence, inspire or help. And you want their reaction to be a force to be reckoned with.
This cannot be done by thinking of Karma Strategy activities as a time-limited campaign, and those who are doing well in doing good are in it for the long run. There is no quick fix in changing the world for the better, but with a few basic considerations, you will not have to wait years to experience results.
Customers do not just want to salute you for doing good, they want you to enable them to make a positive difference themselves as socially responsible shoppers. In fact, according to Cone Communications’ research, people would buy a product with a social or environmental benefit if given the opportunity. They want to support what you are doing in making a difference through action, not just words.
I am one of those that strongly believe actions speak louder than words, even more than money donated. If you believe in supporting something, people will want to see you actively supporting it, or enabling them to take action. According to the same study, consumers expect companies to act responsibly, but in a world of sceptics, half need proof of a company’s responsibility before they believe it.
Someone from your organisation needs to step into the limelight. People want to see real people getting involved. Don’t be afraid to let that person share the back story of why this is important. I have witnessed the less than impressive impact of companies that actually had a great reason for doing what they did, but who did not manage to put that story forward. Maybe your story will even make people care about what you are supporting, building a connection beyond the typical short-lived “me like, me buy” mentality some marketers aim for.
Most actions cannot be taken without opinion behind them. Why are you supporting this and not this? That may be the question you will have to be prepared to answer. There are causes that are inevitably political. Also, there can be those who would like to discredit what you are doing as a superficial marketing ploy. Prepare your argument. Don’t let anyone steal your thunder or turn your good karma into bad karma.
Your good deeds have to be relevant to your business and marketing strategies, including the brand identity and promises you are portraying in your messaging. The obvious reason is your wanting to create or strengthen a relationship with a certain group of people that will help your business grow. In other words, if you are supporting something that has no relevance to those who will buy your product, you will end up getting all the right attention in all the wrong places.
Finally, all of your lovely efforts will have little value if people don’t hear of them. From the very beginning, how you make your good deeds known to the world is pivotal to their success for your business. You will need to plan ahead: How will you tell the story of what happens, and when will you tell it? Don’t settle for the written press release put out afterwards, and miss the chance to generate a lot of great content and people interested in what you are doing.
The GMG survey found many people did not know which products were socially responsible or how to find them. Your ultimate goal is to enable your customers to take action, and the biggest factor preventing them from successfully increasing their socially responsible shopping is lack of knowledge.