2012 VolunteerMatch Client Summit Insights: Keynote Recap

Carol Cone (@CarolCone), also known as “the mother of cause marketing,” is the Global Chair of Edelman Business + Social Purpose and served as the keynote speaker at the 2012 VolunteerMatch Client Summit.

Carol spoke of how corporate purpose is now necessary in a society where consumers are more mindful of the products they consume. But how do you execute a good strategy to promote a cause or purpose? Here are a couple of her take-home points.

Engaging Employees is Essential for Future Growth

Organizations with high employee engagement had a 3.9 times higher earnings per share growth than organizations with low employee engagement, according to a Gallup study. Engaged employees put in 57% more effort and were 87% less likely to leave the organization compared to disengaged employees.

Employee engagement is essential to running a successful business. Engaged employees mean happy employees. Happy employees mean a more productive company. Employees are the center of your brand and will be the center of your cause marketing campaign.

Adapt to the demands of the “Citizen Consumer”

Carol made the point to use the term “Citizen Consumers” to refer to consumers. Consumers are more aware than ever due to technology such as social media. A full 86% of global consumers believe that businesses need to make social issues just as important as making profits. Consumers demand transparency from organizations in order to support them.

Social purpose is also still a significant purchase trigger. Take two products with exactly the same price and function and the consumer will be more likely to choose the product that promotes a cause.

Make sure that your company has an active profile on social media (Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, for starters), and that your social media efforts reflect your social responsibility efforts.

Storytelling is Key

The last point that Carol mentioned in her keynote was that storytelling is a necessary factor in communicating the company’s efforts to the public and increasing brand value. With social media, organizations have many more opportunities and tools to tell your story.

In order to tell a good story, you need a focus. “Don’t play and spray” with your causes.

Pick an issue first, and then choose your partners from there. Once you have a central focus, you can shape your narrative from there.

Remember, don’t use business jargon. Make your company’s narrative accessible. Don’t aim at just informing the public of your accomplishments with the fancy percentages and numbers of the business world. Aim for touching the human heart and telling a compelling story.

The bottom line? Corporate social responsibility and cause marketing aren’t just nice things to have for your company. They’re fundamental changes you need to make in order to not only increase your brand value, but to survive in a transitioning world becoming dominated by social media, technology, and an increased demand for transparency.

Further Reading:
Corporate Social Responsibility: Customers Buy It, Employees Sell it  (RealizedWorth)
Sustainability, Purpose, Citizenship, CSR, Shared Value: Don’t Get Stuck on the Name… Continue the Journey! (Huffington Post)
CauseTalk Radio: Carol Cone, “Mother of Cause Marketing,” Talks Power of Purpose (Selfish Giving)

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