You design your brand to look established, professional and profitable, even if this is not the case on the inside. That way consumers trust you and like buying from you.
The downside of looking professional and established is the doorknockers people looking for funding, sponsorship or donations. I bet you hate saying no to them, especially as you know they view your brand as an enterprise swimming in profit.
Do you give financial support even though you are actually in desperate need of some yourself? If it is an event of some kind, you may find comfort in knowing you are going to get lots of exposure from your cash, but is it really your target market and will your name on a poster be memorable or add any value?
Charities will always need funding, you just need to ensure your business has a plan and process for dealing with requests. Remember, a lot of sponsorship and donations are worthless to the businesses doing them. Sure, they may make you feel good and you are helping out a great cause; but with a bit of proactive planning your socially responsible contributions can do much more.
The current outcomes from typical sponsorship and social responsibility (SR) include:
Getting a sign/poster/your logo displayed (if an event).
A thank you on their website/newsletter, possibly your logo too.
You can mention the sponsorship on your website.
You may feel good for helping out a worthy cause.
Now lets look at some of the potential or ideal outcomes:
Having your SR so relevant to your product/service that everyone knows and remembers it.
Doing this shows you 'mothering the industry' and hence owning it.
You being a leader (especially amazing if you arent the biggest or mostwell known).
Passing the street test (if people were asked what your brand does for SR and they can answer).
Being able to measure the effect theSR initiative is having on your brandand profits.
Have your competition stressed out because you picked the most amazing, logical and memorable SR cause for your industry.
Continuous support to a cause, not a one off a relationship that can be nurtured through a well designed initiative.
Remember, the difference between SR and great SR is profit!
Brand-reinforcing social responsibility is not very common, as often door knockers beat businesses to it, or the directors wife gives her husband a nudge saying lets support xyz charity because everyone at craft does. You have to put some substance and background thought in your SR to make it worthwhile.
Measuring the results
Having a social responsibility strategy is about taking the lead in your industry, being memorable and able to measure the results.
Nobody enjoys writing out a donation cheque and saying I dont know if it has helped our business or not, we may have gained a few clients through the exposure.
If instead you had a NEW client/repeat business measurement factor tied into your SR initiative you could see which clients were attracted via your SR profile and which ones keep coming back because of it.
The notion that any SR that rewards you or brings you business growth isnt really SR (as you are getting a benefit out of it) is wrong. If you think about SR and shape it in a way that grows your business, you deserve the results. At the end of the day you are helping something amazing and the more successful you are, the more you can continue to do so.
Allison Toner is a social responsibility niche designer with Christchurch-based Niche Forecasting Limited. www.nicheforecasting.co.nz
NZBusiness has ten free copies of the Niche Forecasting Sponsorship Analysis to give away to readers that email the best matched and/or worst matched examples of sponsorship or SR theyve seen in business. Email to email@example.com before July 31, 2006. The Analysis is a self help tool to uncover where youre at with your brands sponsorships and help plan what you want to achieve in the future.