Marketing is about branding – creating an emotional response in your clients or customers. Therefore it follows that good marketing is about creating a positive emotional response – when people hear your business’ name you want them to have a happy feeling about it, one that they’ll hopefully share with their friends, family, and colleagues.
Philanthropy is a great way to build this kind of brand for your business.
Philanthropy gives you social media reach
One of the key ingredients to successfully using social media for marketing is consistency – you should be putting out helpful content at least once a week on the same day.
However, some people might be struggling to come up with the necessary amounts of content to keep pace, even if it is just four times a month. Your philanthropic endeavours can help you fill those gaps.
By posting once a month or so what your business has done for a charitable organization you’re not only boosting awareness for that charity or program, you’re also boosting your branding by showing that your company cares about people in need.
You even get bonus points – if you add some pictures from charitable events you’re humanizing your employees, letting your public get to know you on a personable level, and that connection will make people root for you not just in your charitable efforts but also in general.
Philanthropy steers hiring practices
Another benefit of going public with your business’ philanthropy is that it puts your company’s cultural vibe out there on display. Potential future employees will be researching your company. When they come across you and your gang engaged in fund raising, car washes, dunking booths, or what have you, they’re going to get a clear picture of the type of work environment they’re going to be entering.
In other words you’ll be marketing your company to a new wave of hires, and winnowing out people who wouldn’t enjoy mixing in with your culture and whom you in turn wouldn’t enjoy having in your business life.
Good deeds directly related to your business
You don’t necessarily have to wait for a charitable organization to approach you. Are there things that your business can offer that are uniquely suited to your type of work?
If you’re a window-washing business you could wash orphanage windows while dressed like super-heroes (still pay your employees by the way, it’s just free for the orphanage).
If your business prepares food can you give the left-overs to a homeless organization?
Barbershops have made the news by offering haircuts and shaves to the homeless in order to prepare them for job interviews.
What can your specific line of work offer that might make it into the news?
You get your name associated with good deeds
The charities themselves have their own social media outreach, and every time you do something on their behalf they’re going to put your name up in big bright lights. Additionally, charitable events often attract traditional media, so your time and/or products and services might get highlighted in a news clip or get you an interview in the local paper.
At the same time, you can use this as an opportunity to not only introduce yourself and your company, but also as a way to introduce specific goods and services to people. One obvious way you can do this is by offering something to a silent auction. Everybody perusing the offerings is going to see the awesomeness of what your company has to offer.
But there’s an additionally sneaky bit of marketing going on – the person who wins your service or product gets to try your stuff out… and you get to mention that there’s an even better tier of product or service that gives a couple of really cool value-adds or even core services for not much more than the cost of the prize that was given to the auction.
Pro tip – when someone comes to redeem their prize, knock their socks off. They’re probably already showing off their prize in their social media and their connections are going to be asking how the prize works out. If you can make the prize-winner’s jaw drop you’ve just impressed not only them but their entire circle of friends, who in turn might let their connections know, and so on.
If you’re not sure which type of charity you should be working with, create a survey of your top five choices and let your social media audience vote and comment. Right from the get-go you’re showing that you care about a lot of different problem areas, and you get your audience involved and supporting you.
If you still can’t decide, visit some of the organizations. See which of the social woes bothers you the most. Knowing that you’re fighting for something you care deeply about is going to add fuel to your fire. Additionally, seeing the situation in person might spark an idea as to what your business is in a unique position to offer.
See what your accountants have to say. Donations are of course tax deductible, and different types of organizations offer different levels of tax breaks or benefits.
This isn’t a one-time thing. Build your philanthropy right into your company’s structure.
Do a little research to make sure you’re supporting an up-right organization and not one of those monsters that feeds almost all of the donations to its CEO’s bank account. Working with the latter can actually hurt your business’ reputation.
Make some noise by issuing a friendly challenge to other businesses in your area.
Can you afford to give employees a day off with pay once or twice a month in order for them to do charity work, either for your business’ organization of choice or their own concerns? If so, those employees are going to be bragging to people about what a cool place they work at, and that good news will ripple outwards.
There’s a lot of good brand-building marketing to be found in philanthropic work. It might even prove to be the best marketing your business has ever had.