Do you want to improve brand awareness for your Small Business? Before continuing, let’s make sure that we are speaking the same language. For the context of this article, I’m using the Oxford dictionary definition of brand awareness = “extent to which consumers are familiar with the distinctive qualities or image of a particular brand of goods or services”.
It’s often said that no idea is ever new, that no business is ever unique. However, it is important to make efforts to distinguish your business from similar businesses and to speak to and attract your target audience (which may differ slightly from a business that looks the same).
To read more about WHY brand awareness is important and how to establish, boost, and measure it, I recommend a great article from HubSpot – The Ultimate Guide to Brand Awareness. However, except for one item on this list, Social Responsibility efforts are not included.
Embracing Social Responsibility (doing more Social Good through your business) can help improve brand awareness in three ways:
- Enhance Reputation
- Stand Out in a Crowd
- Reach New Markets
Top 3 Ways Social Responsibility Can Improve Brand Awareness
1. Enhance Reputation
Your customers aren’t just buying your products and services. With their purchases, they are also supporting your company and you as a brand. Your overall business reputation or HOW the public thinks of your business is an important element in their decision-making process.
Socially responsible actions, such as giving back to the community and being a sustainably focused business, can enhance your reputation. However, these only work if you COMMUNICATE about your actions! You want the public to think positively about what you do. Particularly if your actions also connect to aspects they are passionate about (i.e. KNOW your audience).
Not only is this a philosophically sound recommendation, but it has been proven as well. 35% more Corporate Executives reported success in enhancing their reputation when corporate citizenship was integrated into their business strategy (Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship).
2. Stand Out In a Crowd
The extent to which your customers are familiar with your brand is another key element of brand awareness.
Social Responsibility actions that will help you stand out in a crowd include:
- Providing alternative content for social media and email newsletters – if you only post about your products and services, your followers may tune out. Share your social responsibility actions through your social media channels and emails. And better yet, encourage your followers to take part in or share your efforts.
- Taking unique and memorable actions – evaluate your competitors. How are they contributing to the greater good? Do something DIFFERENT. AND COMMUNICATE about it. I’m willing to bet they aren’t communicating their efforts much, if at all.
- Involving your customers – when possible, involve your customers in your social responsible actions. Is your company volunteering? Invite your customers to join. Are you doing a blood drive in your office? Invite your customers to sign up for slots. Doing a coat drive for the homeless? Invite your customers to bring in coats. Not only will this help their engagement with your brand, but it will also make you unique from your competitors.
- Sponsoring events – if you pick events that match your business values and are attended by your target audience, sponsorship opportunities can provide a great way to bring attention to your brand. Look for sponsorship options that include the sponsor name in key advertising, display the sponsor name in prominent areas where the audience can’t miss it, offer options to be present at the event and engage with potential customers, and allow branded items to be given to the guests.
- Donating items – are there any charitable fundraisers attended by your target audience? Donate items or services for auctions where you can display information (providing a hands-on approach to introducing your business), provide business cards or marketing material, and gaining one new client via the donation who will hopefully love your business and share their excitement of winning.
3. Reach New Markets
If you are expanding your business to a new market, your reputation has most likely not extended into that realm yet. It can be hard to break into a new market especially if it’s already saturated with competitors. Being able to distinguish yourself and reach potential consumers quickly will significantly help your efforts. Social Responsibility can help you reach new markets in very similar ways as standing out in a crowd. However, these are just refocused on the NEW market, the NEW customers, and the NEW opportunities.
You may also want to use Social Responsibility efforts to collaborate with non-competitive businesses already in your new target market. One of the best ways to do this? Propose a combined socially motivated activity! It helps contribute to the greater good AND brings awareness to your brand. It’s much easier to propose a collaboration that is mutually beneficial to all parties involved than something that could be seen as just a favor.
How Else Can Social Responsibility Benefit Your Business?
To do more than just improve your brand awareness, please refer to the other blogs in this series to learn about additional benefits including:
- Improve your customer relationships (Part 2).
- Improve your employee relationships (Part 3).
- Improve your business finances (coming soon).
- Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship (State of Corporate Citizenship 2017)