There is good reason for politicians to raise values as political campaign issues. Polls show time and time again that Americans care about values.
In today’s world, we divide politics into red states and blue states, primarily based on the perceived values held by the people living in those places. Car bumpers proudly display stickers proclaiming the values of their drivers. Tee shirts proclaim values, as do colored wrist bands, and ribbons tied to trees. Businesses that fail to recognize the importance consumers place on what people believe and what they care about will not prosper. Their growth charts will look more like the Alps and less like the flight path of a plane taking off. We want others to know our values, and when they don’t we cannot understand why.
When you align your brand with a cause, you create an emotional bond with those consumers who also are aligned with that cause. And by effectively applying cause marketing to your outreach efforts, you increase sales and enhance brand loyalty, while building brand equity.
Here’s what I mean: Yoplait raised more than $1.2 million for breast cancer awareness several years ago by having customers send in their Yoplait yogurt lids. For every lid mailed in, Yoplait donated 10 cents for breast cancer awareness. During that promotion, Yoplait reaped 12 million in sales. That ain’t just yogurt; that’s real revenue.
Those numbers represent Yoplait’s external efforts, but there usually is an internal return on investment as well. As mentioned earlier, today’s recent graduates are looking for more than money in a job, and are willing to trade income to work for a company that is socially responsible and ethically minded. Employees of those companies are 25 percent more loyal than those working at companies who are not. This results in real cost savings: Loyalty reduces turnover and it raises earnings, as loyal employees as a rule are more productive.
Small businesses benefit as well as large companies. The owner a small marketing firm in Connecticut supports professional women’s organizations by giving of her time and offering small college scholarships. The positive public relations and word of mouth those cause-related efforts generate bring new clients. But this is not the primary reasons she gives back. She does it because it is the right thing to do. I know from experience that she would do these things whether or not she benefited financially, which makes her business authentically based in values. And many business people share that philosophy of genuinely wanting to give back.
Research and anecdotal evidence tells us time and time again that cause-related marketing, social responsibility and ethics-driven business practices bring a good return on investment. And the more you share your commitment to the community and the planet using marketing, the greater your return on your good deeds.
Customers often are drawn to brands and companies with a track record of social responsibility A company considered socially responsible has an enhanced reputation with the public, as well as its reputation within the business community, which increases its ability to attract capital and trading partners.
One study showed that 61% of people who own stock said they had bought or sold shares on the basis of a company’s social performance.
The 2007 Cone Consumer Environmental Survey reports that 32% of Americans are more interested in the environment than they were a year ago. Most important, 93% believe companies have a responsibility to help preserve the environment.
The study also revealed that 47% of Americans have purchased environmentally friendly products, 21% have donated to an environmental organization, and 18% have advocated for environmental issues. In their own lives, 93 % are conserving energy, 89% are recycling, 86% are conserving water, and 70% are telling family/friends about environmental issues.
With this information in hand, businesses better understand how to meet the wants, needs, and desires of their customers, while doing good works.
Author’s Note: This is excerpted from my newest book, Lead With Your Heart.