Thursday, April 22, 2010

Good and good for you.

Let’s get one thing straight. We are not telling you to start a charity or get involved with one for the sake of publicity. That is wrong and will inevitably come across as disingenuous and sleazy to your customers. Don’t do it. But, if you are a business owner with a little bit of heart and a passion to help others, doing some good will definitely… do you good.

The key to using your company as a conduit to helping others is to pin-point what skills and resources you already have. As a business owner, this should be easy. Let’s say you are an artist. You have a talent (painting) and resources (paint, brushes, discounts at art supply stores).

Next, you need to determine what you are passionate about. Maybe it’s animals or the environment or human rights. Let’s say you pick child abuse as a cause that’s always inspired you.

Finally, you’ll need to connect the two. Your organization could involve painting murals on the walls of a half-way home or collecting local artists to teach children to express themselves through art. It could include gathering real paintings that these children have made about abuse and their feelings and putting together a book. The extent to which you elaborate your plan is up to you, and most likely determined by your spare time, funds and tools. Keep in mind that it doesn’t have to save the world – a small difference is still a difference.

Once you’ve established your role, it will be important to share the story. For one, it will help you reach out to others who may need your services. Secondly, letting your regular customers know that they are working with someone who cares will give them confidence that your business is upstanding. Wouldn’t you rather support a company who gives back over one who doesn’t?

One perfect example of this is Tide with their “Loads of Hope” campaign. They took what they had (laundry detergent!) and created mobile laundry stations to help people struck by natural disaster. Tide has long been considered a leading brand, but to solidify itself in the detergent market, it had to become more than just a product – it needed to become a BRAND that cared about helping other people. And instead of donating large sums of money, they have been able to actually increase the standard of living of many estranged victims.   

Another example is Liz Claiborne’s “Love is Respect” campaign spreading awareness about teen dating abuse. Liz Claiborne has used high visibility fashion events (something they were already well equipped to handle) to raise money for the cause and created an online chat platform for real teens to use for advice and counseling. Liz Claiborne may be a brand we associate with our mothers but they have been able to reach a new audience and make a huge impact at the same time.

And then there’s the “Haagen-Dazs Loves Honeybees” campaign which is again, kind of perfect. Haagen-Dazs is no doubt a strong brand with a delicious product… a product that only loses out to healthier alternatives. But the fact of the matter is, if you fall into the category of people that CAN resist a tasty treat, it probably would take something as simple as saving honeybees to change your mind. Plus, this campaign enhances their already “all-natural” brand motif, and it does in fact, help the bees. Win win.
So think about what your company can do to make a little difference in the world, and do it. Tomorrow is Earth Day, so there’s no better time than now. And if you’ve already started something, share below in the comments! We love to hear stories of success.


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