With my recent dive into Corporate Responsibility and nonprofit work through Business4Better (B4B), I am discovering many new dimensions things about business, society and myself, and eerily familiar patterns.
An interesting parallel is happening in the world of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and B2B marketing that underlines the over-riding influence of “community” on our blended personal-professional lives. Both CSR and B2B marketing have shifted to a greater focus on eliciting “engagement” and “involvement” to contribute to a company’s success (“doing good to do good”, as I hear frequently). During my first few months of working on B4B, I keep saying to myself, “Wait, I think I have seen this movie!”
In marketing, one of the most effective ways to showcase your brand, build trust and loyalty, and to create real engagement is to contribute value (content, experts, and ideas for example) beyond selling a product or service. If companies and employees have the opportunity to contribute to the greater industry, your company brand becomes much more deeply ingrained in the community – and companies often feel more loyal and involved as they have a stake in a greater outcome. Brands like Zappos.com, Amazon and Starbucks, where employees are deeply involved in causes related to their company’s values and their customers’ interests, are seeing improved performance and long term financial success.
As a volunteer for Business4Better, I am seeing the same phenomenon play out as I deep dive into CSR. The B4B movement is bringing corporate responsibility and nonprofit professionals closer together to create more direct involvement and impact on the communities they serve.
Business4Better is a core part of a UBM-backed non-profit, non-revenue-making movement, Global Responsibility Series anchored by events and conferences around the world – Brazil, United Kingdom, India.
U.S.-based corporations are now waking up and realizing passive checkbook charity and donations are not nearly as effective as active, community involvement and engagement. Employees and causes alike want to see and feel the experience.
If it is about planting more trees or cleaning a blighted neighborhood, for example, it is increasingly about picking up a rake versus just buying a rake.
Not that money and transactions are bad. This approach simply does not provide the same satisfaction or long term engagement.
I will be sharing more of my experiences in my volunteer efforts in the CSR/nonprofit world via the Business4Better Conference taking place May 1 & 2, 2013 in Anaheim, CA. This means months of learning new lessons and relying on trusted skills I use every day in the B2B tech and marketing world.