Using Community Involvement as Part of Your Green Marketing and CSR Strategy

Filed under: 1sdn,CSR,Green Marketing | |

community involvement green marketingCommunity involvement has a number of benefits for businesses  implementing green marketing and corporate social responsibility programs.  They include: preferential government and regulatory treatment; enhanced reputation and brand image in that community; increased profit and customer loyalty;creates new business opportunities;increased ability to attract and retain employees; increased ability to attract and retain employees; innovation in market through cooperation with local communities; and innovation in market through cooperation with local communities.

by Sofia Ribeiro, Founder and co-owner of Kiwano Marketing

For most people, green marketing is not only about marketing strategies with a smaller impact on the environment. Green marketing is also about helping a business become socially responsible as well: to provide better products, improve working conditions and contribute to the community. But exactly how can you get your company more involved with your city?

A good first step is to write a corporate social responsibility (CSR) plan. There are many reasons why companies should become socially responsible. A Marketing Blog by Marketing Journal did a great job listing all the benefits you can reap:

1. Enhanced reputation and brand image
A survey done by Cone Inc. titled “Millennial Cause Study” found that 83% of people will trust a company more if it is socially/environmentally responsible. The same survey also found that 66% of this group recommends products/services if the company is socially responsible. CSR initiatives generate good feelings towards a company’s products or services, compelling customers and media to talk about the organization and its positive impact on the community.

2. Increased profit and customer loyalty
Who doesn’t feel good about doing business with a company that cares for the environment and its community? As mentioned on our previous blog post, Green Marketing: A Sound Business Strategy, Generation Y is acutely aware of the threats of pollution, extinction, and global warming, and will reward companies that reach them with dollars and word of mouth (while punishing those that don’t). In fact, the Cone Inc. survey found that over two-thirds of the people surveyed consider a company’s social and environmental commitment when deciding where to shop, and 89% are likely to switch from one brand to another (price and quality being equal) if the second brand is associated with a good cause.

3. Creating new business opportunities
Not only will customers give preference to socially and environmentally responsible companies, but most businesses will as well. Since we started Kiwano Marketing, I have noticed an increasing number of organizations that will only do business with socially/environmentally sound companies. By implementing a corporate social responsibility plan, you will also be exposed to new contacts as fruit of your closer involvement with your community.

4. Increased ability to attract and retain employees
Socially responsible companies are known to value their employees. Not only these corporations are better able to retain high-quality staff, they are the main preference for professionals who have strong social and environmental values. A recent poll on green employment by MonsterTRAK.com found that 80% of young professionals are interested in securing a job that has a positive impact on the environment, and 92% would be more inclined to work for a company that is environmentally friendly.

5. Increased productivity and morale
Everyone likes to know they’re making a difference in the world. Studies have demonstrated that employees at socially and environmentally responsible organizations feel more motivated at work when compared to companies that do not have concrete CSR initiatives.

6. Preferential government and regulatory treatment
Did you know that most governments provide benefits to socially responsible companies? The U.S. government, for instance, has a special category for this type of organizations when getting an RFP out. This means that, if you’re offering exactly the same product or service (and under the same conditions) to the government, and your company is socially active while the other is not, chances are you’re going to land the deal.

7. Increased operational efficiency and reduced operating costs
The reality is, if you have a CSR strategy, you’re probably looking to your bottom line and making sure there are no redundant costs. Environmentally responsible organizations have reduced costs on packaging, paper and water usage; even on electricity. Common practices involve turning off computers and lights at the end of the day, reusing marketing materials, reducing the number of disposable cups and rethinking printing habits. Some companies opt to give away office supplies and computers not in use, while extending the life cycle of electronic equipment such as monitors and printers.

8. Innovation in market through cooperation with local communities
Organizations with sound CSR plans are usually much involved with their local community and tend to invite influential members to their strategic meetings. This practice not only makes it more likely that the product or service will be well received in the community, but it also provides a broader pool of ideas, leaving socially responsible organizations one-step ahead of the competition.

A solid CSR plan will provide you a framework for your green marketing initiatives and will keep your business aligned with your goals. There are many resources available to help you with this task. For instance, Abertis has its CSR plan available for download, while Amway published a two-page document making the case for its corporate social responsibility plan.

Implementing CSR initiatives in your business is a great way to maximize your marketing efforts and leverage your sales, but it is important you’re doing it for the right reasons. Before writing down your CSR plan, think of your goals for your community, for the environment and for your business. What can you do to make your community a better place? How can you align it with your business? How can you communicate your CSR plans? I’ve listed some resources below that will help you get started.

© 2010, Sofia_Ribeiro. All rights reserved. Do not republish.

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Author: Sofia_Ribeiro (13 Articles)

Sofia Ribeiro is the founder and co-owner of Kiwano Marketing, a green marketing services provider dedicated to support small, sustainable businesses. An experienced marketing professional and a green enthusiast, Sofia has an extensive marketing background across both small businesses and large enterprises throughout Europe and North America. Her expertise lays in guerrilla marketing and Internet marketing techniques, paired with a solid experience in copywriting and industry research. Sofia also manages a green marketing blog at http://www.kiwano.ca/blog.