Tactics for generating word-of-mouth are plentiful, but what one tactic can drive employee engagement and consumer support?
The answer is corporate social responsibility (CSR). It’s a broad term referring to the social good your organization does locally, nationally or globally. It can take a variety of forms from volunteering at the local food pantry to partnering with a national cause like the American Cancer Society.
Corporate benevolence works in your organization’s favor. More and more employees, particularly millennials, care about social activism. Consumers care, too, and are likely to pay more and be more loyal to brands with a CSR component than to those without.
That’s all well and good, but how do you go about it? Here are six tips:
1. Align social good with brand values.
When it comes to partnering with a charity or promoting a cause, think about the work your own organization does and the product or service it offers. Which cause is a natural fit? If you’re in the tech industry, you might consider mentorship programs with teens or girls.
2. Find a cause that engages employees and consumers.
A cause that aligns with your mission and values but doesn’t resonate with employees or consumers is doomed. The cause has to meet both your mission/values and employee/consumer expectations.
Find out what interests employees outside work. Many of their interests probably coincide with those of your customers. You’re looking for that sweet spot found in the Venn diagram. Find it, and you’re golden. You’ll see an outpouring of support from employees and consumers.
3. Make it fun.
Employees will not be happy if they’re forced to volunteer. It will rankle them, just as attendance at a company picnic does. “Volunteer” means just that. Make it fun and rewarding so people will want to give their time and energy.
Side note: If you’ve already addressed the first two tips, the “fun” should take care of itself.
4. Make it social.
Word-of-mouth marketing requires conversation, so make sure it’s happening online and off. If you’re working in the local community, share updates and photos.
How is Mrs. MacGregor’s community garden coming along? How many books did a Big Brother read this week?
Another note: Sharing specifics drives awareness, interest, support and sales. People like tangible outcomes. Knowing that the stack of books your Big Brother has read weighs as much as he does is a good way to do just that.
5. Work outside holiday trends.
Food pantries and banks always need help, but they’re often amply supplied with volunteers around Thanksgiving and Christmas. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t serve there during the holidays; you should. It’s just that pantries have ongoing needs.
Consider food banks situated in rural communities and northern climates. They need more help during the winter months. How can your brand help? Get creative. Snow chains, shoveling snow, food deliveries and salt are all viable options.
6. Focus on long-term relationships.
To see the greatest impact and benefit of social good and word-of-mouth marketing, focus on long-term relationships with cause-focused organizations. You’ll see revenue and loyalty grow for both you and the cause year after year.
If you want to generate positive word-of-mouth, consider paying it forward. You’ll quickly find yourself with more engaged employees and more happy, loyal customers.
A version of this article first appeared on Cision.