Posts Tagged 'smart marketing'

Smart Marketing & Corporate Social Responsibility: Beyond A Marriage of Convenience

Infographic of corporate reputation and social responsibility by Boston College professor

We’ve said before that we’re big proponents of “smart marketing”:  Companies that show they “get it” by marrying their business mission and vision to also serve some public good. By another name, it’s also called corporate social responsibility.

That approach to business, articulated with authority by Henry Ford in the early 20th Century—has been a proven model for “good,” as well as for effective business practices. Today it’s carried forward by many visionary companies.

We like to call it “makes-sense marketing” because, in effect, these companies are paying it forward and stockpiling public goodwill, as well as managing their “bottom line.” Periodically, we like writing about those companies and their campaigns on these pages.

So it brings us great pleasure to share this round-up of “smart marketing” companies, first published by Hubspot, who have made their “giving back” programs an integral part of the company culture. These companies include American Express, Lowe’s, General Electric, and others you may not be aware of.

And, more recently, another natural disaster, the incredible Typhoon Haiyan, motivated another corporate giant—Google–to get creative and show how it could help. Melissa Agnes writes about how Google is combining its business mission and tools with public service to provide critical help to those suffering during an enormous crisis.

Please take a few moments to check out these stories, take a few notes, and perhaps a few lessons from what they’ve done. And, by all means, tell us what you think. We’d like to see smart marketing—makes-sense marketing—become a real movement!

*A final note: As if made to order, shortly after publishing, we ran across this Forbes article on “Purpose” that we think summarizes the ethos quite nicely. The only thing we would add to the writer’s bullet list is be certain to “act” on your purpose!

Starbucks’ Cause Marketing & CSR: Two Views

Starbucks logoGenerally speaking, we like Starbucks corporate style, and we’ve given them a few shoutouts in previous posts for providing a good example in cause-related marketing and corporate social responsibility (CSR). But, like many companies, they haven’t always met our expectations in every area. So, to balance the perspective, we’re reblogging a post that offers potentially another view of Starbucks. This doesn’t mean we’ve changed our view of Starbucks; we still think the company’s miles ahead of most companies in social listening, social marketing, and CSR. But, fair is fair, and we  provide this post to keep you informed to make up your own mind. Let us know what you think.

“It is with interest that I saw with the US Government shut down continuing in Washington D.C. that Starbucks have started a campaign to facilitate change in our Nation’s capital. They are offering a free coffee to anyone who buys their fellowman their favourite drink in one of their stores.

My initial thought was this was good and I was pleased they cared enough about this issue to start this promotion. I considered that this shows their social responsibility by getting involved and trying to help… or are they?”

Read more Starbucks: Real Concern or Just Good Marketing? http://linkd.in/17DigzD

And, in case you haven’t encountered it yet, here’s an AdWeek write-up of Starbucks’ latest campaign.

Social Responsibility and Small Business

woman business owner

Too often when we talk about social responsibility in business, the default image is of some large corporation or conglomerate, and what they are or aren’t doing in their business to make the world a better place. Rarely do we stop to think or talk about how small businesses—like ours, MediaWorks, Inc.—can be engaged as socially responsible businesses. We recently ran across a great article from Stanford Social Innovation Review that offers a powerful narrative and a template for how even the smallest businesses can engage in socially responsible business practices. It starts like this:

How To Be A Socially Responsible Small Business

1)      Your money is a powerful vehicle for change. Every dollar that you spend is an opportunity to make a conscious choice to support values-aligned businesses. Your dollar is your “vote.”

2)      Buy local. Coffee, lunch, office supplies, support services, including insurance, banking, repairs, office supplies, office security, etc. These are all services needed by most businesses that can have a measurable impact on a community when purchased, where possible, locally.                   small retail shop

3)      That measurable impact is known as the “multiplier effect.” Dollars spent locally tend to circulate longer within a local community and they’ve also been reported to increase levels of collaboration and mutual support among businesses, as well as total dollars spent.

4)      Giving back. The book on which the Stanford Review article is based, Small Business, Big Change: A Microentrepreneur’s Guide to Social Responsibility, offers a couple of creative ways that small business can give back to their community.

  • Contribute cash or in-kind donations to local causes and organizations that serve community needs.
  • Donate a percent of revenues or a percent of the cost of products or services to community organizations you support.

To find out more of the details, we highly recommend reading the article, or perhaps buying the book. But most importantly, realize there’s an important role for small businesses to play in social responsibility.

We’re already engaging in some of these practices (buying local), and look forward to more ways to do our part. Your small business can send out a powerful message about social responsibility in its local practices that can become a catalyst for communitywide, and perhaps global, change.

Businesswoman Assisting Customers

One last thing, here’s an update on the “big picture” in CSR, “How the Voice of the People is Driving Corporate Social Responsibility,” from Harvard Business Review: http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2013/07/how_the_voice_of_the_people_is.html?utm_source=Socialflow&utm_medium=Tweet&utm_campaign=Socialflow

Richard Branson and Global B-Team Look to Make Bold Moves in Corporate Social Responsibility

Richard Branson

Do you know about The B-Team?

Virgin enterprises founder Richard Branson has assembled an international braintrust
to make corporate social responsibility  a frontburner issue among C-suite execs and in boardrooms.

We gather that this effort is designed to bring the same kind of muscle to perplexing and pervasive social issues as some companies already do individually and foundations frequently do collectively. Yet, Branson’s goal is to harness the somewhat unique collective power of global business to amplify the impact on some of the world’s most intractable social problems.

By its own telling, The B-Team’s “vision of the future is a world in which the purpose of business is to be a driving force for social, environmental and economic benefit.”

Taking  up the mantle of a modern-day Henry Ford, The B-Team offers an equally bold mission:  “to deliver a ‘Plan B’ that puts people and planet alongside profit. Plan A — where companies have been driven by the profit motive alone — is no longer acceptable.”

B team screen shot

The B-Team Web Site

Branson, noted for his bold and audacious corporate moves, brings a very different force, and perhaps focus, to the rather low-key world of CSR. The powerhouse group’s manifesto is an unblinking call to action, which includes these statements :

  • “Non-Profits alone cannot solve the tasks at hand, while many governments are unwilling or unable to act.
  • “While there are myriad reasons we’ve arrived at this juncture, much of the blame rests with the principles and practices of ‘business as usual’.
  • “These are not the outcomes we envisioned as we grew our companies; this is not the dream that inspired us.
  • “And the overwhelming conclusion we’ve reached is that businesses have been a major contributor to the problems, and we as business leaders have the responsibility of creating sustainable solutions.”

(Check out their video declaration of these principles:  http://bteam.org/leadership/watch-the-b-team-declaration/ )

We hope it makes a difference. We couldn’t agree more that the public and nonprofit sectors alone can’t address the growing host of existing global and social problems—a number of which are caused by bad business practices. This movement bears watching; and we hope this consolidated global business force can bring to fruition some of its most lofty goals:

“Therefore, if we leverage the many positives of business – the spirit of enterprise,
innovation and entrepreneurship that has helped realize improvements in quality
of life and enabled technological and scientific progress – we can create an
unprecedented era of sustainable, inclusive prosperity for all.”

So what do you think? Are you enthusiastic? We’d love to  read your comments.

More On Companies Daring To Do Good

Panera Restaurants

Over the span of our posts, we’ve complimented a wide array of companies that seem to be particularly attuned to marrying their business operations with what we call “smart marketing” and corporate social responsibility. Panera has been cited as one such company, on more than one occasion. Today, in his own words, Panera’s founder, Ron Shaich, talks about the principles that guide the company’s business and good deeds … Daring to Do Good

And on more than one occasion, we’ve written about the benefits of C-suite blogging as a way of “keeping it real” and staying in touch with customers and other important audiences. We’re happy to give a platform to others who share that view. Here’s a testimony from Twitter social leader & blogger, Claire Diaz-Ortiz …

“Starting a blog was one of the smartest things I ever did …”

May 07, 2013

Inspired reading, on both counts, we hope! Let us know what you think.

Why Don’t They Call It “Makes-Sense” Marketing?

In past posts we’ve featured the Corporate Social Responsibility campaigns of Panera, Starbucks, Exxon and more, and there are many others out there makingPie  Chart Marketing Image similar “smart” marketing moves. One of the common equations of these and other successful cause-related marketing is that the causes they support are so intrinsically tied to their industries and their business models. So, it occurred to us, why don’t we just call these efforts “makes-sense” marketing”?

Here’s another noteworthy CSR campaign—this one by OfficeMax. The retail office supply company is providing—guess what—to schools? School supplies! It’s a win for the retailer and no doubt for the appreciative teachers, kids and administrators at receiving schools. Makes sense, right?

Clearly, more such smart marketing moves are needed, and we like to spotlight as many as we can. So if you’re aware of other smart marketing moves by companies, large and small, please let us know. Just makes sense, doesn’t it?


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