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The social responsibility helpdesk!

The social responsibility helpdesk!

- ‘We are socially responsible’ (but is it bringing you business growth?)

SR is still young; some businesses are a bit slow on the uptake. But for those businesses that have already got active SR plans have they been reviewed for their effectiveness?

When offered SR audits many businesses say “we’ve got xy and z in place” but is it brand reinforcing? SR that isn’t growing your business is a waste of time. If you set up SR a few years back it was probably ‘old school’ SR – donations, sponsorship that sort of thing. SR has to be parallel to your brand, it’s no good doing SR in a non related industry – consumers won’t see the link or the logic (because there won’t be one!).

SR is the most amazing marketing tool, without being insincere – when you pick the right avenue it is brand reinforcing. Any SR that isn’t is selling itself short (no wonder some see it as an expense not a brand growth tool – they are doing it wrong!) i.e. if you are an ice cream manufacturer and your SR is giving a large cheque to a hospital that doesn’t reinforce your brand! What I have heard of an ice cream company doing is addressing global warming. Why? Because the more global warming happens the harder it will be to eat their product – they will melt!!

- The easiest way to lead your industry

Is by being in charge of it. How? Healing something within it – a problem or issue in your industry. If you business is proactively healing/fixing it you have seemingly taken ownership of the industry and are ‘mothering’ it.

If you address your industries biggest problem before your competitors do they have missed out on an opportunity to take ownership and be the leader. Being proactive is the key – if you blast off in this way it will be hard for them to catch up.

- Avoiding bookish/boring SR is easy when replaced with energy, passion and brand blasting

As SR gets redefined away from its previous bookish image room is being made for passion, excitement and energy. Forgetting the term ‘social responsibly’ and replacing it with ‘profit from peace’ makes this a bit easier. Business is supposed to be lively and fun not serious and boring. In life our attitudes define us and this should be reflected in business from CEO down to the check out chicks. The top dog at Vodka brand 42below calls himself “chief vodka guy” not ‘CEO’ – personality is fun and the ‘chief vodka guy’ thing is part of their fun branding.

So ridding your brand of ‘boring’ SR comes down to the design and the niche you are working in. Be honest when its time for a revamp – any effort well directed will be well worth it in returns.

- Let your marketing change your customers world

You do marketing to create an effect – an awareness of your brand, an increase in sales,

SR is marketing and it’s better than normal marketing – it has purpose depth and achieves the same thing – profile but for better reasons. Every business needs to market and may as well do so with gusto and purpose. Semi replacing advertising with SR may scare traditional businesses but once you try it your profile should speak for itself. Business is about consumers being aware of you and SR does that, even more so when your SR is addressing an issue that affects them personally – then it really touches on them and they will be intertwined in your brand.

- Nobody is lining up to read your SR report are they?

Alongside the pressure to be SR and do SR is the question of whether or not you should print an SR report. You can be SR without one, but most people think an SR report is the only way to showcase SR which is wrong.

Another misconception is that an SR report has to be long and detailing every little nook and cranny of your SR – this is not so. When your brand picks and works with one SR focus then you can do just that – focus on it, its quality not quantity. What I mean by that is yes recycling in your business is important, saving power and water etc but you should be doing that anyway – save the SR report for reporting passionately about you sole focus – you main focus. Consumers will be excited to read about this as its direct to the point of your SR (in way that touches them remember) so they don’t want to have to skim read through ‘chest banging boring bits’.

When its not drawn out and in corporate speak your consumers will be interested to read your report. That’s what you want – never direct it just to shareholders, your consumers are more important to your brand than them.

- SR is easier than you thought

Passion and care have to come into SR. the view of ‘business is business’ and that you are there to make profit not lend a helping hand at improvement is old fashioned and not sustainable. With the profit issue, as SR has developed it has become a profit grower not an expense and previously believed.

- You don’t really know anything about SR do you?

When it comes to SR I believe the simpler the better – that is before getting all tied up with triple bottom line reporting, guidelines, tests and SR ratings just spot a niche in your industry that needs fixing work it into your brand and go. You consumers don’t care if your brand has been evaluated against SA8000, AA1000, ISO14001 or the ISO26000 guidelines, it wants to see you are doing something relevant to you brand and that it’s memorable to them.

- If you knew anything about SR you’d be on cloud 9

Successful businesses now and even more so in the future are the ones that are being innovative, have personality and stand for something – not just a shop that ‘sells something’. Nothing can be lost from being a good corporate citizen – a well structured initiative will grow your profits not detract from them.


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