In today’s business world, it’s no longer enough to compete merely in products or services. Businesses understand that, to be remarkable, they need to also do good for the community they operate in and serve.
Why? Prof. Kellie McElhaney, founding faculty director of the Center for Responsible Business at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, points to three crucial reasons. In an interview with Pulse, she says that today’s Millennials want to work for socially responsible companies. “Second, trust in business to operate in society’s best interest has never been lower,” she explains. Finally, companies cannot continue to be successful in a failing world, so they have to work to make the world a better place in ways that make sense for their business.
To create a remarkable brand, incorporate a CSR (corporate social responsibility) strategy into your business.
Support meaningful causes. Find a social cause that aligns to your brand promise and company vision. According to McElhaney, a good case study of a failed social cause is Kentucky Fried Chicken’s (KFC) partnership with Susan G. Komen. “Breast cancer research is not KFC’s issue, nor is breast cancer research a fast food company’s competency,” she says. Her advice is to find a credible CSR story.
Charity selection is not a popularity contest. In the December 2011 issue of Pulse, Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance Chief Operating Officer Bennett Weiner said the number one mistake companies make when finding causes to support or charitable organizations to partner with is basing their judgment on the popularity of the charity. “It may make your marketing department happy as it’s always easier to get people to support a popular cause, but look at the big picture,” he advises. For instance, supporting local foundations or causes may bring tremendous goodwill more so than a national charity.
Create opportunities for volunteerism. Empower employees by giving them paid time-off to volunteer in company-sponsored volunteerprograms. “Volunteering builds a stronger team by bringing people together,” says Travis Anderson, director of spa at JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa in Texas. Several of Lantana Spa’s associates serve on Marriott’s resort-wide Spirit to Serve committee which organizes volunteer activities like departmental bake sales to raise funds for the Children’s Miracle Network, road-side cleanups and work at local food banks.
In the end, whatever the social cause or foundation you decide to support, it is ultimately important to engage your customers by allowing them to participate. “It is no longer enough to tell your customers what you are doing, they want to be involved,” says McElhaney. In doing so, they will not only purchase your product or service, but also develop a life-long loyalty to your brand.