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Double Bottom Line or Double Talk?

Show your audience that

your mission isn’t just lip service


Austin Evans, Digital Content Strategist

Austin Evans — Digital Content Strategist

If you’re a company that uses your profits to make the world a better place, you’re what we call a change maker, and you’re in good company. Organizations like yours help transform the world every single day.


One of the challenges that socially-responsible companies face is the deceptively difficult task of talking about themselves — without making people think they’re using philanthropy just to get an edge on the competition.


The way to avoid that is to be authentic with your mission. It must be integrated into your company’s DNA — not just a thing you talk about. It is a part of who you are — your identity.


That may sound like an overwhelming burden, but it’s not as difficult as you might think. Plus, we’re here to help. Because that’s our thing. So, let’s get to it. Here’s how to clarify your mission so you succeed in every facet of your business.


Create Partnerships


No man is an island, and no business is either. No matter what greater purpose your business pursues, chances are there are others who also share your passion. It doesn’t matter if it’s a local charity, environmental impact, aiding the homeless, or social justice. Whether the problem is right around the corner or on the other side of the world, it will be solved better in cooperation with others. 


A successful partnership can come from anywhere. It could be a nonprofit that works in the area you serve, an influencer, a government entity or even another socially-conscious company like yours. The opportunity to collaborate is always there, you just have to look for it and find the right partner. 


And the benefits of finding the right partner are many. First of all, you immediately benefit from the legitimacy of their established brand. If people trust the organization you’re working with, they are much more likely to trust you. 


You also have the potential to cross-promote one another. For example, you could pledge to donate a certain percentage of your profits to your partner’s work over the course of the month. They’ll promote your business to improve your sales, to get a larger donation, to make a larger impact. Everyone wins. A good example of this is Nashville Rescue Mission’s Hearts of Hope campaign, where local Nashville businesses have partnered with the Mission to donate proceeds for all of February.


From a messaging perspective, you now get the opportunity to talk about your partnership, rather than exclusively yourself. By saying “Look at the great work our friends are doing!”, you lift them up but also make your own efforts part of the conversation. And in return, your partner gets to pump you up to their audience.  Talking about yourself is good — you have to be able to do it — but having someone else do it for you is even better.


Brand your giving efforts


Wear Pink. Giving Tuesday. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. When you make your giving efforts easy and actionable they are much more likely to be remembered and successful. Once again, there are so many different ways to go about this.


One strategy is to pick a certain day, week or month and build a campaign around it. When you make giving an event, it builds excitement and gives you something specific to talk about. It also gives you the ability to set a concrete goal for the campaign.


Goal Proximity is a psychological effect where people are more likely to take action the closer they are to accomplishing a goal. So, when you say “We’re only $5,000 away from making our Big Giving Week™ a success!” it is much more likely to get people to click that “Buy” button, especially if they’d previously been on the fence.


From a business perspective, a branded campaign also gives you the ability to create new merchandise. Many for-profit-for-good businesses will have a dedicated line of branded goods for their mission. A certain percentage of the purchase price then goes directly to making a difference.


Another version of this is the “Round Up” campaign, where you give customers the opportunity to round up their purchase to the nearest dollar and donate the difference. Besides generating money for a good cause, this also allows you to talk about where your heart is with every single person that buys from you. Even if they say “no”, they now know that you are about more than just profit margins. And they’ll be more likely to say “yes” next time.


Plan your social media strategy


Social media is important for any business, but if you are balancing your two bottom lines then you’ve got an extra tightrope to walk. After all, you have to clearly communicate important consumer information like sales, new products and general brand awareness along with supporting the work that you do. 


When planning out the month (or more, if you’re feeling really proactive), look at all of the established events that you know are going to be social media topics. Black History Month, Veteran’s Day, Red Nose Day…whatever it may be. If it’s something that you can authentically (that’s key) say something about, then don’t miss the opportunity to do so.


It also helps to engage with the accounts you follow. Track down influencers and other organizations that share your passions and connect with them online. Comment on their work and share it and they may just do the same for you.


Remember that it’s not about you


Chances are that one of the main reasons you started or joined this company was because of the good work that’s being accomplished. Studies show that a good percentage of your customers feel the same way.


According to a study by Cone Communications, 87% of consumers said they would be willing to buy a product or service based on a company’s advocacy concerning a social matter. In a separate study by Clutch, fewer people (44%) say price is among the most important attributes of a company compared to environmentally-friendly business practices (71%), social responsibility (68%), and giving back to the local community (68%).


More than ever, people want to make a difference through the purchases they make. Your position as a for-profit-for good company is that of a connector. You connect customers who want to make a difference with the communities and causes they believe in, be it social justice, environmental impact, or humanitarian efforts.


5by5 is a Storybrand-certified agency, and one of the key tenets of Donald Miller’s messaging framework is to position your customer as the hero and yourself as the guide on that hero’s journey. If you can make your audience feel like a hero by doing business with you, you’ve created more than a loyal customer, you’ve got a brand advocate who’ll recommend you every chance they get.

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