Distinguishing your brand from its competitors is one of the keys to running a successful business. Large corporations know this, which is why they are willing to spend millions on branding and marketing initiatives that makes them seem unique within their market.
As a small business owner you obviously don’t have the marketing budgets as these international brands, however one of the easiest ways of making your business stand out is by promoting your company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies. Many of today’s consumers are concerned about the environment, both on a global and local level, so by promoting your business’ CSR policies you will be helping to position your brand as one that also cares about the environment.
CSR policies can take many forms from supporting local charities to ensuring that all your company’s hazardous waste is disposed of safely and ethically, in short anything that has a positive impact on the local or global environment and society. Again, large companies have been adept at promoting their CSR policies for years, however although many small business owners also have comprehensive programmes in place, they are less skilful in promoting this to their customers and clients.
Fortunately promoting your business’ CSR policies doesn’t require you spending lots of money, instead here are some cost-effective ways to publicise your environmental credentials:
Chances are that no matter what industry you are in you have already seen the benefits of launching a business website. The reality of today’s modern technological world means that there are very few businesses that will be successful without one. Your business’ website is also the ideal place on which to promote your CSR policies. Not only is it free, but your website is one of the first places potential customers will look at when deciding whether or not to use your services, as such it will be the perfect place to let potential customers know about this aspect of your business.
Don’t just list your CSR policies, include images and if possible upload videos as well. If you are helping local charities, provide information about real people your business has helped. Alternatively if you are concentrating on environmental policies add information about how your business’ contribution has helped improve the environment. The key here is letting your customers know about your CSR policies and providing information about the benefits and results it has accomplished.
Social media has become so popular amongst businesses that it is almost as important now as having a company website. Although there are many drawbacks to social media sites, the advantages normally outweigh the disadvantages. Not only are social media sites usually free to use, but they are a perfect place to market your business including highlighting your CSR policies. It is vital that you get the tone right on these sites; you need to find the balance between friendly and professional, while also remaining on brand message. Also try and keep your social media updates in ‘real time’ and if possible light-hearted, especially on Facebook and Twitter, if not your updates could come across as just self-promotional rather than entertaining and you could find yourself losing social media followers.
Sometimes with the emphasis on using technology for marketing and PR, traditional forms can be overlooked. Simple tactics, such as ensuring you send out press releases, should still be used alongside promotions on your website and social media. Not only does traditional PR help to promote your CSR but it also helps you to build relationships within the local and national media, as well as industry peers. Just remember when contacting the press that the content needs to be either interesting, entertaining, or useful to readers and viewers. Also if your business’ CSR policies coincide with seasonal events, for example donating food to homeless shelters in the run up to Christmas, make sure you let the media know about this in good time so they can plan it into their news schedules.
About the Author: This article is written by Derin Clark, a writer, editor and blogger