Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a popular topic among companies these days—and for good reason. In today’s world, consumers are getting more conscious than ever about how the goods and services they purchase impact their communities and the world. They want to buy from companies that they trust are making decisions with their social, ethical, and environmental impacts in mind.
CSR encourages companies to make a positive difference, show how they’re a part of the interconnected world, and prove that they’re committed to their brand values. We love seeing more and more companies seriously investing in this area.
Keep reading to learn the benefits of marketing your CSR initiatives, why it’s important to do it well, and how we recommend you approach it.
Why should you include your CSR initiatives in your marketing?
As we said, consumers want to choose to buy products and services from companies that they feel good about. So, sharing the good news about your company’s CSR initiatives pays off in that way.
It’s more than just that, though. By including your CSR initiatives in your marketing plan, you can attract and retain employees who want to work for companies that share their values. And you can bolster and maintain your brand reputation (one of your most valuable assets as a business!).
But you need to market thoughtfully.
Marketing your CSR initiatives requires different considerations than your regular marketing activities. Our extensive experience working with nonprofits and other organizations that have a social impact gives us insight into the best practices in this space—and the mistakes that can trip companies up.
Poorly marketed CSR initiatives can deter customers, rather than build valuable loyalty. Customers can tell when companies are just being surface-level about it or if the sole motivation is just profit. Instead of all those benefits above, insincere marketing of your CSR initiatives can do the exact opposite: cut customer loyalty, reduce trust, and hurt brand perception.
Here’s how to market your CSR initiatives to your audience.
Share the truth. When talking about your CSR initiatives, be honest about the company’s motivation, goals, and achievements. Be careful not to overstate the impact your initiatives have had. Avoid marketing jargon and self-promotion.
An important part of this is to connect your initiatives to your brand mission and values. Why did your company choose these initiatives? Why are they important to your company? Draw these connections for your audiences—employees, customers, and leadership. Help them understand.
Plus, we think it’s important to focus on the impact of your CSR initiatives instead of the activity itself.
We believe in the power of storytelling. It’s valuable to share how your CSR initiatives have impacted individuals or families. Stories connect with your audience, highlight the effects your initiatives have, and build excitement (for your employees and your customers) about continuing to do good work.
But it’s important that companies don’t exploit the people their CSR initiatives have helped. If you can’t find a storyteller comfortable with sharing their story for your described purposes, find another way to share your impact. You could speak in general terms, for example, describing the positive benefits for the greater community. Or if you have an employee who’s especially involved in the CSR initiative, you could showcase what they’ve done and why it matters to them.
Don’t just promote your CSR initiatives once a year. Instead, make it a part of your company’s culture.
In our approach, we work with organizations to develop messaging that brings together impact with their overall brand. We fold that messaging into all marketing and communication strategies, continually reinforcing each message. Companies promoting their CSR initiatives should do the same.
Effective CSR is a long-term commitment—and you want your marketing to reinforce that. Talk about it regularly and share it across various channels, including social media, websites, reports, and internal communications. On social media, for example, you could launch a dedicated hashtag related to your CSR initiatives to share compelling images and stories.
This consistency reinforces your company’s commitment to its CSR goals.
By marketing their CSR initiatives in an authentic, personal, and consistent way, companies build trust and credibility with all their audiences, whether customers, employees, or leadership. They can show the world that they’re committed to making a positive difference—and how they’re taking action to do it.
We all love good news. Sharing the positive impact that your company’s CSR initiatives have is included in that. And by sharing it well, you can increase sales, improve employee engagement, build brand goodwill, and—importantly—gain support for more good work.