Are businesses beholden to the same ethical standards a modern individual follows? It seems that way recently, as more and more brands market themselves as entities that help society grow and thrive. Corporate social responsibility isn’t just an obligation nowadays; it’s a marketing ideal a lot of companies live and breathe. Whether on a local, national or a global scale, social responsibility has become an important factor in marketing your brand to an audience.
According to Forrester Research, values play a part in the purchase decisions of 52% of US consumers. Social commitment can be as simple as recyclable packaging, showing support to advocacies, selling products for a cause or starting a direct mail campaign to promote a charity or fundraiser, says Action Mailing & Printing Solutions. When people care for a cause, they will support that cause in any way the can—from buying products that support that particular cause to spreading the word.
Whether you’re handling a small business or a huge corporation, here’s how you can pull off this kind of marketing strategy.
Honesty Speaks Volumes
You can’t halfheartedly say that you support an advocacy. You need to set it as the truth. In the Internet age, everything you say—statements, interviews and social media posts—is seen by everyone. If you say you support the veterans, you need to prove that you do support the veterans. If there’s a message from you that other people can misuse or extrapolate, making it look like you don’t support them, it’s over. Be vigilant about everything you say to protect not just your interests but to gain the trust of your stakeholders as well.
For example, in 2019, as part of its social responsibility tactics, AT&T presented a Pride logo for their company to show solidarity with the LGBTQ community. They also partnered with the Trevor Project for LGBTQ crisis intervention hotlines. On the other hand, they’ve also contributed to campaigns of several anti-gay politicians. So, there’s an obvious dissonance with the message they’re trying to pass; that’s something you want to avoid. This is somehow related to the next topic…
Socially responsible marketing is done with good intentions. But some are masked to be one, making it seem like they’re doing environmentally ethical actions, but in fact, they’re not. Greenwashing is a company’s attempt to capitalize on eco-friendly products. They may promote that their products are ethically sourced or made but wasn’t. Honesty speaks volumes. Don’t promote something that’s socially responsible if you’re not doing anything socially responsible. You’ll be misleading your consumers about your own products and services.
Adhere to Legal Restrictions
Some products are still bound by legal restrictions and regulations. For example, lawyers and medical practitioners can’t haphazardly market themselves, regardless of how socially responsible their jobs are. They need to be careful about how they present themselves to the public. The same goes for cigarette companies. Despite the legality of such businesses, they can’t present any claims that they can’t back nor create provocative advertisements that are ethically and socially irresponsible. That is why cigarette advertisements are typically non-sequitur ads promoting lifestyle instead of usage.
Socially responsible marketing can improve your relationship with your stakeholders by promoting ethical responsibility and helping a good cause. With this, you can create a conversation that will hopefully improve the current living situation of everyone.