Socially responsible marketing is pretty easy, once you know what it entails, and you are dedicated to following through with it. But first, what exactly is socially responsible marketing?
Socially responsible marketing is a way for companies to show consumers that they will be making a positive difference in the world if they purchase from them. Taking socially responsible initiatives will help set your company apart from your biggest competitors. It will help boost your public image and your brand because you are showing everyone that you are trying to benefit society. As a marketer for a company, this is worth considering especially since the younger generations are more likely to purchase from a company if that company shows they have a purpose higher than making money.
There are many different things to keep in mind for socially responsible marketing, but I have narrowed it down to eight that I believe will be the most beneficial as you start your journey in marketing for companies that want to promote social responsibility.
1. Know who your target market really is
The first and foremost aspect of any marketing campaign is understanding your target market. If you don’t understand them, then you will never be able to get your message to connect with them. To get the attention of your target market, you need to find a way for them to connect with you. This requires research and lots of it. You will never be able to effectively attract your target market without doing the research to understand who they are. As I mentioned earlier, it is much more obvious in the younger generations’ buying habits that they care about a company’s overall purpose. If you are targeting these younger generations, you will want to do research to find out what types of purposes matter most to them. Once you know what they care about, it will be easier for you to find a way to make a connection between them and your company. I will talk more about this in the section about the involvement of the audience.
2. Always be ethical
This must-have should also be in any marketing campaigns you do but it can be easy to steer away from ethics when you are focusing on your marketing being socially responsible, as contradictory as that sounds. This is because you will face many ethical issues such as does your company actually believes in what you are saying it believes in, and how are you promoting your socially responsible message? It can be easy or might be tempting to make a claim that your company does one thing when it in fact doesn’t. If consumers find out about this, it will become a breach of the trust they have for your company, which I will talk more about next about sincerity. The big thing is to avoid getting caught up in the idea of being socially responsible so that you don’t lie to get there. If you maintain your company’s ethical codes and are genuine in the marketing you are producing, it will benefit you greatly as your connection with your target market will increase in trust.
Yes, there are a variety of ethical opinions out there and we could debate which is best, but you need to make sure you follow your company’s moral code and not lie about what you are marketing. Those are the two biggest issues that will break consumer trust.
3. Consumers will know if you are being sincere or not
Your marketing campaign has to be sincere. It is now considered the norm and if you aren’t sincere, then it will be bad news for your business. This is because consumers will always be skeptical of a company’s true motive and will do their research if they suspect you aren’t being true to your word. The best way to achieve this is to be transparent about what your company does to be socially responsible. This is because when you are transparent, the consumer will trust your company and when you have trust, you begin to develop a relationship. A relationship between a consumer and a brand is the ultimate goal of marketing because it means they are more likely to come back and support your business. Another way to be sincere is to make your campaign about your consumers. When it is about them, they will feel as though you want to help them because you are giving them a solution to a problem they may be having.
4. Involvement with the audience
Being involved goes hand-in-hand with understanding your target audience and being sincere. There are many ways for a company to become involved with its target audience. Finding out what your consumers want from your company will greatly benefit your socially responsible marketing campaign as it will further prove to your audience that you are involved and not just faking it to get attention and more sales. This also allows you to get to know your audience better and will help them make a connection with you. One way to get your target audience to notice you is to show up at events or financially support those events that matter to them. If your company isn’t big enough to be able to support events or make a trip, you can show your involvement through what you post on your social media accounts. These are some socially responsible marketing-based questions you can ask yourself before you post:
Does it show the target audience you are taking steps to be involved in a particular social issue? Are there ways you can involve them in your posts either by commenting or having them share your posts on their stories?
When posting on social media, you don’t post just what you think they want to see, you have to post what you know they want to see. If you post content they want to see, they will engage with it and engagements will help boost your campaign.
5. Be a goal setter
Set yourself goals! Goals are an important part of the campaign because that is how you can measure if your company views the campaign as successful or not. Some of these goals will be more immediate such as testing new methods for social media engagement, but others will be long-term such as sales after a set amount of time. Regarding becoming more socially responsible, if your company isn’t where it needs to be to be able to use a socially responsible approach ethically and sincerely, you can set goals to help get your company to that place. Then you can tell your target market that you are working on becoming more socially responsible. Even though this tactic might not get you more sales immediately, it will show them that you are a company to look out for in the future when you do achieve the goals you have set. Companies do this all the time when they say they hope to produce less CO2 gas emissions and this inspires people to support that company to show them that they support that goal.
Another way to use goals is to track the progress your company has made since using a socially responsible marketing approach. These goals will help you be able to see if the way you are handling this type of marketing in a way that is beneficial and areas where there could be an improvement, especially if you are just starting with socially responsible marketing.
6. Have a long-term mindset
This one goes hand in hand with setting goals. Just as some goals will take time for you to know whether you achieved them or not, socially responsible marketing campaigns will take some time before you start to see results, especially if you are trying to change the consumers’ preconceived notions about your company. If you do expect this shift to happen quickly, then you will get frustrated and it will be easier to give up. However, you can make a plan by setting your goals and that can help you push through this as you check in occasionally to make sure you are staying on track to be viewed as socially responsible. Gradually people will start to recognize your brand as one that is socially responsible, but you shouldn’t expect this to occur overnight.
7. Take responsibility and own it
This one is more public relations focused since it will come up only when there are problems, but it is still important. With socially responsible marketing, there is an extra level of responsibility because you will be held to a higher standard. However, if you are willing to take responsibility and ownership for it, it will be better for the company in the long run. If you are being transparent and sincere, then you shouldn’t have anything to worry about if this were to be an issue because consumers tend to prefer socially responsible brands. That being said, hiccups do happen but if you are responsible and own up to it and deal with the problem quickly and efficiently, it will be easier to regain the consumers’ trust. On the flip side, if you aren’t being ethical or sincere about those claims, the consumers will expose you on social media and on reviews and it will hurt the company more than if you dealt with the issue.
Sustainability is important for a variety of reasons, but I will bring up the two I believe are the most general and therefore will apply to more marketers. The first is that the basis for your socially responsible marketing campaign must be something that will last for a while. Whether this is a core value of the company or collaboration you are creating because these campaigns are going to take time as I mentioned in the section about having a long-term mindset. If this base is not strong, then it will be easy for your campaign to fall through and you won’t get the results that you were intending.
Secondly, sustainability is one of the biggest driving social responsibility initiatives that your company can participate in and there are lots of ways to practice it too. If your company isn’t currently participating in sustainable practices, finding one that you can begin will show your consumer that you do what you are campaigning for which ties back into being transparent and sincere. Sustainability is a huge driving market today and engaging in these practices will be beneficial in the long run for your socially responsible marketing campaign.
To recap, the eight must-haves for socially responsible marketing include: knowing your target market, being ethical, being sincere, involve with your audience, set goals, think long-term, take responsibility, and be sustainable. Now that you know 8 must-haves for socially responsible marketing, head on over to digital marketing careers to learn more about digital marketing to help you become an expert in this field.
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