People appreciate brands that try hard to be socially responsible. In fact, brands that achieve perfect alignment with customers through marketing that doesn’t feel like marketing can get powerful — and measurable — profit boosts.
As noted in Deloitte’s 2021 Global Marketing Trends report, purpose-driven marketing pays off in improved loyalty and recognition. Indeed, 79% of research participants said they could recall a brand that responded positively to the pandemic by name. This indicates how important it can be to give corporate social responsibility more than just lip service.
Still, defining social responsibility in marketing can be difficult, especially for marketers unaccustomed to planning campaigns with a mission-driven marketing objective. Yet the litmus test for socially responsible marketing doesn’t have to be complicated.
Foremost, socially responsible marketing ventures tend to put people — think end users and stakeholders — first. This ensures the messaging is meaningful, human, timely, and relevant. Data revealed by Accenture shows that nearly two-thirds of buyers find emotionally focused and deliberately positioned brands more attractive than their counterparts. And statistics from a 2019 Porter Novelli/Cone Purpose Biometrics Study suggest that about 8 in 10 consumers will put their loyalty toward purposeful brands. (This was pre-pandemic, and consumers have become even more in tune with socially sensitive marketing practices since the first quarter of 2020.)
If you’re still confused as to what socially responsible marketing produces, consider some of the tangible outcomes of purpose-driven strategies. ADA-compliant websites are one. So are marketing methods that aim to combat depression and social isolation for those representing at-risk or high-risk populations. Don’t forget about direct mail marketing that uses paper from sustainable forests or marketing leaders who actively volunteer for causes they support and encourage their diverse team members to do so, too.
To be sure, socially responsible marketing is an ever-changing journey that doesn’t come with a specific road map. It has its challenges. For instance, trying to communicate a message to a niche audience can seem exclusionary or insensitive. So, too, can recommending exactly the right products to one set of consumers compared to another. Yet despite its pitfalls, post-pandemic mission-driven marketing is a must-do, particularly today when people, communities, and the world are trying to make sense of all that’s happened in recent months.
Want help putting socially responsible marketing policies and plans into overdrive? Consider the following suggestions to help inform your upcoming campaigns and advertising decisions.
1. Remember that people still buy from people.
Consumers might have switched up the way they place orders or choose products — but they haven’t stopped buying from people and brands they like. Showcase the people behind what you sell, from folks in the C-suite to the back office. Highlight their work, tell their stories, and share behind-the-scenes content. You’ll humanize your company and build stronger connections with your audience.
2. Show your gratitude.
At Hallmark Business Connections, we talk a lot about the importance of gratitude. Saying “thank you” when it’s not expected can create a lasting impression that leads more people to your (real or virtual) door. You’d be surprised how memorable “Going for the Feels” can be. Sending out cards to customers, or giving them unexpected freebies, can make them feel like you’re their friend. And that’s great for building socially responsible connections.
3. Modernize your voice.
Has it been a while since you evaluated your corporate tone? Maybe it’s a good moment to give it a refresh. Times change and your verbiage will likely change with it. Perhaps you’ve always taken a more buttoned-up, corporate approach. Could a lighthearted tone work in today’s market? Try a few A/B split tests to carve out a new face for yourself in terms of your voice.
4. Offer celebration and support to customers.
When you find out a customer’s going through a life event, positive or negative, do you take action? If not, you might be missing out on a key opportunity to make real in-roads. To boost trust, offer support during the tough times and high-fives during those “You, go!” moments. At Hallmark, we try to take every chance to get closer to our customer base. Case in point: During Mother’s Day, we would often hear from people who had lost their moms. In response, we created content to support them and help them honor the women who raised them.
Becoming socially responsible might not seem intuitive all the time. That’s okay. You can engage with people and humanize your brand faster and easier than you might have imagined. Best of all, you don’t have to take the trip alone. Instead, surround yourself with partners you can count on — starting with Hallmark.