June 08, 2015
/ by Erin Feldman
Tactics for generating word-of-mouth are plentiful. But what one tactic can drive employee engagement and consumer support?
The answer is corporate social responsibility (CSR). It’s a broad term referring to the social good your brand does locally, nationally or globally. It can take a variety of routes from volunteering at the local food pantry to partnering with a national cause like the American Cancer Society.
Social good works in your favor. More and more employees, particularly ones from the millennial generation and beyond, care about social activism. Consumers care, too, and are likely to pay more and be more loyal to brands with a social good component than those without.
All well and good, but how do you go about instituting CSR? Here are six tips:
When it comes to partnering with a cause, think about the work your brand does and the product or service it offers. What cause is a natural fit? If you’re in the tech industry, you might consider mentorship programs with teens or girls.
A cause that aligns with your mission and values but doesn’t resonate with employees or consumers is doomed. The cause has to meet both your mission/values and employee/consumer expectations.
Find out what interests employees outside work. Many of their interests probably coincide with consumers.’ You’re looking for that sweet spot found in the Venn diagram. Find it, and you’re golden. You’ll see an outpouring of support from employees and consumers.
Employees will not be happy if they’re forced to volunteer. It will rankle, much like forced attendance at the company Labor Day picnic. “Volunteer” means voluntary. Get people to volunteer by making it an opportunity to have fun and give back to the community.
Side note: if you’ve already addressed the first two tips, the “fun” should take care of itself.
Word-of-mouth marketing (WOMM) requires conversation, so make sure it’s happening online and off. If you’re working in the local community, share updates and photos. How is Mrs. MacGregor’s community garden coming along? How many books did a Big Brother read this week?
Another note: sharing specifics drives awareness, interest, support and sales. People like tangible outcomes. Knowing that the stack of books your Big Brother read weighs as much as he does is a good way to do just that.
Food pantries and banks always need help, but they’re often amply supplied with volunteers during Thanksgiving and Christmas. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t serve there during the holidays; you should. It’s just that pantries have ongoing needs.
Consider food banks situated in rural communities and northern climates. They need more help during the winter months. How can your brand help? Get creative. Snow chains, shoveling snow, food deliveries and salt are all viable options.
To see the most impact and benefit of social good and WOMM, focus on long-term relationships with causes. You’ll see revenue and loyalty grow for both you and the cause year-after-year.
If you want to generate more word-of-mouth, consider paying it forward. You’ll quickly find yourself with more engaged employees and happy, loyal consumers.
Images: Alameda County Community Food Bank (Creative Commons)
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