As the Chinese New Year rolls around again, the grown ups start filling up red envelopes with token amounts of cash as gifts to younger ones in the family. Much like any other holiday season (ahem, Christmas), the Lunar New Year is a season of gifting and showing appreciation. Besides the lovely “ang paos” (red packets) that we receive, it is also about showing you care and wishing others well. We’ve talked about CSR in the past and explained how it helps with brand management. This new year, we’ll talk about how it ties in with your overall 2017 marketing strategy.
As a business, giving back is always one of those things that are pretty difficult to do. Too much of it and you get called out for putting up a show. Too little and you get criticized for not doing enough. In the spirit of Chinese New Year, here are a few tips to integrate your CSR into the overall marketing plan.
1. Align your CSR with company goals
A good CSR strategy should tie in with the overall business goals and branding. For example, at HubSpot, we place heavy focus on customer education and spreading the good word of Inbound Marketing. While it might bring in a decent amount of revenue if we put a price on our certification courses or webinar sessions, providing these resources for free aligns with our goal of wanting to bring Inbound knowledge to a wider audience. When the alignment is made, not only are you able to bring greater contribution (since you’re leveraging on existing competencies), you’re also boosting brand identity.
Besides that, it is also important to see how you can plan your CSR initiatives such that it brings positive impact to the bottomline. Simply said, how can CSR help bring in additional profit for the business? The easiest way to frame this is that the brand will be positively associated with being compassionate and socially constructive in the minds of consumers. Research has shown that 67% of consumers are more likely to purchase products and services from a company that supports a cause, making your company a more ideal candidate. Plus, 80% of customers would tell their family and friends about a company’s CSR efforts, thus making them advocates for your business.
2. Which part of the customer journey does your CSR fit in?
There’s no reason you can’t do good and pay attention to your funnel goals at the same time. Just put aside some time to think about how your CSR initiative can be applicable to a customer at various stages of their journey with your business.
If you’re looking to attract new customers, share about an interesting CSR initiative like inviting less fortunate children into the office for an old school retro gaming challenge. Pay attention to the various channels and content types that would appeal to someone further up in the funnel. Social media, blog posts and interesting/out of the box event ideas are some of the best channels and content you can use to attract a customer with CSR.
On the other hand, if you’re looking to delight existing customers, consider getting them involved. Get them to join a sharing seminar that helps youths with shaping their career goals. Otherwise, organize a networking session for fresh graduates looking to enter the industry and invite your prospects to share their experiences and mingle. This way, not only do you get to do CSR, you also help your customers do good too!
Some activities, like a cash donation or a company charity run doesn’t in itself, fit into the funnel, but the promotional efforts for it can. This brings us to the next point, which is to…
3. Make your efforts known
A lot of companies keep their CSR efforts hush-hush. We’re not sure if it’s because they’re trying to be humble when doing good deeds, but we can’t say that we wholeheartedly agree with it. You don’t have to toot your own horn, but marketing your CSR efforts is almost as important as having one in the first place. Whether it is posting a quick Snapchat or posing for a Boomerang, your CSR becomes useful content.
Research involving companies like Procter & Gamble , General Mills and Timberland has shown that many of their stakeholders did not know about their CSR initiatives or did not find them personally relevant. However, a shift in strategy that updates consumers about their efforts has seen tangible results in terms of increased customer loyalty.
Putting your initiatives up on various marketing channels is also a good way to catch the eye of potential customers who are looking for socially responsible companies to fulfil their business needs. In fact, 90% of consumers would switch brands to one that is associated with a good cause, given similar price or quality, making this a great way to differentiate your business from competitors.
4. Listen to your stakeholders
Here’s where marketing can help too. By listening to your stakeholders and carrying out market research on what they think is the best way your company can contribute to society, you are giving them a chance to become involved in what traditionally is a business decision.
Further, taking your stakeholder opinions into consideration gives them ownership over the initiative and encourages them to become more involved with the business. The Body Shop is one good example. By listening to their customers and pursuing and ethical, no animal testing approach to their production process, they’ve won over the hearts of many existing and new consumers. They’re even going further and ensuring that their products are not only cruelty-free, but environmentally sustainable as well.
5. Track your performance
Like with almost every other campaign, you should aim to track the performance of your CSR initiatives to understand how it can be improved. Understand the reach and business goals you met. But at the same time, find out how many lives you’ve touched and how much difference you’ve made. It might take awhile to obtain concrete data, but reporting on such metrics provides a level of transparency for your business.
Performance tracking also allows you to identify areas for improvement and replicate success. By understanding which initiatives are the most effective, you’ll be able to expand initiatives in that particular direction to bring even greater impact to your brand identity and goals.
New years often signify new beginnings and it’s always great to start a brand new year off on a good note. That’s why this Chinese New Year, the HubSpot team wants to help your business grow.
You can download the 2017 Marketing Strategy Templates & Guides for free and start achieving your new year resolution of having a kickass marketing strategy.