To meet the growing demand for socially responsible companies, businesses have had to embrace new approaches, driven largely by consumers who want to support companies that actively contribute to the greater good of society. The field of corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a business approach that emphasizes the positive impact a company can have on society. For many, in today’s social media age — where positive and negative reactions can spread like wildfire — incorporating CSR into marketing strategies can seem like a complex and challenging task.
Ray Sheehan, CEO of Old City Media, is a marketing expert who has successfully created events that promote CSR, engage the community, and generate leads. He emphasizes that modern businesses must prioritize incorporating CSR into their marketing strategies, especially when it comes to creating and promoting events.
“When customers can see for themselves that a company is doing good in the world, they feel good about supporting that company which can lead to increased loyalty and customer retention,” Sheehan explains. “Today’s consumers have higher expectations from the companies they support.”
To successfully engage consumers, businesses must be genuine in their efforts, aligning their CSR initiatives with their core values and business objectives. Inauthentic attempts to capitalize on social issues are easily detected and quickly dismissed by discerning consumers.
As a leader with over 20 years of experience, Sheehan is paving the way for businesses to create impactful strategies that align with their brand and resonate with their target audience. By incorporating CSR into marketing initiatives, businesses can build a strong connection with consumers that goes beyond just selling products or services.
CSR events benefit businesses, customers, and communities
Over the past decade, companies around the world have recognized the advantages of combining their business initiatives and social responsibility, aligning their mission of transparency in labor conditions with sustainability goals. For those that have yet to recognize the benefits of this pairing, Sheehan advises prioritizing CSR initiatives as a way to build brand loyalty, set themselves apart, and establish stronger relationships with customers. However, Sheehan advises that careful planning and execution are crucial for a successful CSR event.
“Integrating social responsibility with business services and products can be achieved by implementing successful CSR events,” Sheehan explains. “It’s important to consider what will resonate with your target audience and how you can make a positive impact on the community.”
These events can be annual or quarterly, and not only increase brand awareness but also generate word-of-mouth buzz. They can also be part of a donation effort, where a portion of the funds raised is donated to a mission-driven partner.
Businesses of any size can demonstrate their commitment to their community and customers by partnering with local non-profit organizations. This can be achieved through local initiatives focused on the surrounding communities, or by participating in events that connect with larger non-profits, such as World Central Kitchen or Feeding America, which have roots in smaller communities.
Partnering with non-profits for CSR events
Partnering with a non-profit enables businesses to support a cause that is important to their customers and demonstrate their commitment to making a positive impact in the community. This not only helps to enhance the reputation of the business, but also has the potential to make a real difference in the lives of those who live and work in the local area.
While CSR events are designed to benefit the community, they can also be an effective tool for generating leads and increasing brand awareness. “CSR events provide an opportunity for businesses to showcase their values and mission to potential customers,” Sheehan says. “This can help increase brand awareness and attract new customers who share the same values.”
Sheehan recommends using social media to promote the event and engage with attendees. “Social media is a powerful tool for building buzz around an event and connecting with attendees before, during, and after the event,” he explains. “Be sure to use relevant hashtags and encourage attendees to share their experiences on social media.”
Sheehan suggests setting clear goals and metrics for the event, such as the number of attendees or the amount of money raised for a non-profit organization. Along with these metrics, he emphasizes the importance of evaluating the event’s impact on the community.
“You should consider not only the direct impact of the event, such as funds raised or volunteer hours contributed, but also the ripple effects it has on the community,” Sheehan clarifies. “Did the event inspire attendees to get involved in the cause beyond the event? Did it raise awareness for an important issue or create a sense of community among attendees? These are crucial factors to consider when evaluating the success of a CSR event.”