PPM Article: The other Social…. A social conscience

Charity marketing article

How working with charities can benefit your business and help thousands of people (and dogs). Article by Guy Blaskey, originally published in the trade magazine Pet Product Marketing.

A lot is written (including by me) about social media marketing, but there is another type of social marketing, which is increasingly popular – socially conscious marketing.

Companies promoting themselves on the back of a social conscience is not a new thing, The Body Shop was doing it 30 years ago, but more and more companies are now doing it in more and more varied ways. Two of my current favorites are One and Luta.

One makes products that you might see in your supermarket like bottled water, toilet roll and eggs. They donate the profits to life-changing projects in developing countries. A particularly simple-yet-clever element of what One does is to match the projects with their products. So… profits from sales of One Water go to providing water pumps, profits from toilet paper go to sanitation projects, profits from eggs go to providing egg-laying chickens to under-nourished people in Africa. For more info visit www.onedifference.org
Luta is a clothing company specialising in lifestyle clothing and fightwear (for boxing, martial arts etc.). Luta was started by Luke Dowdney MBE, who first started the charity ‘Fight for Peace’ in the favelas of Rio over 10 years ago. Fight for Peace uses boxing and martial arts to overcome division and violence and to promote the potential of young people in the poorest areas of Rio. Luta clothing provides a share of its profits to ‘Fight for Peace’. For more info see www.luta.co.uk and www.fightforpeace.net
Having a social conscience does not mean that you are not out to make money. These are not charities (although some companies have charitable foundations or work closely with charities). Innocent have sold over 50% of their company to Coca-cola for around £50-60m. They are very profitable, but donate 10% of profits to charity including The Innocent Foundation (www.innocentfoundation.org), which promotes sustainable farming in the countries where they source their fruit.
When looking for a charity to work with it is important to choose a charity that makes sense to your business. There are many amazing charities out there, such as Cancer Research or Save the Children, which may have extremely important resonance to you personally, but if you are looking for a charity for your company to support it is best that it links to your business. For a local pet store the ideal choice is a local dog rescue centre. The benefits of working with a relevant charity include:
Staff motivation: Many companies chose to keep relatively quite about their charity work publically, but promote it to staff internally. This is a good way to show your staff that you are a caring company, and if you are a caring company you will care about your staff. This should increase staff retention.
PR: Newspapers and magazines generally like to write about good news stories such as people helping charities. A local newspaper would love a story about a local shop helping out a local charity and this will spread word about your shop. At Pooch & Mutt, if we find out about a rescue dog who is in dire need of one of our products we send it to them free of charge. One of the first times we did this we got the amazing before and after pictures of Ivy (click here to see the pictures). These pictures got a good amount of PR coverage and really helped to launch the brand.

Team building: Your staff may like to get involved with either helping out at your chosen charity, or fundraising for the charity. If they are helping out at the charity then you and a few members of staff could go there together or if you are fundraising then you could undertake an activity – like a sponsored run – together. This is a good way to get staff to bond, spending time together, away from work, with a communal goal.
Increasing sales and getting new customers: At Pooch & Mutt we offer massive discounts to rescue centres, who use the products on the dogs in the centres and even sell to raise funds. One of these charities is the Labrador Lifeline Trust. As you can imagine they have a lot of old labs who really benefit from our joint supplement, Mobile Bones. People who adopt old dogs will get told about Mobile Bones when they pick up their dog and will hopefully go on to become customers. If you start working with your local rescue centre then they can tell you what products they recommend to new owners. You can then make sure that you stock these products and the rescue centre can tell people to come and buy them from your store.
Health: Many fundraising activities, like running, will help you and your staff get healthier. Healthier staff means less sick days lost and there is evidence that increased oxygen flow to your brain during exercise helps concentration at work. I am currently training for the London Marathon to raise money for Hearing Dogs for Deaf People and have found that I work better in the afternoons after a lunchtime run.
On April 22nd Guy is running The London Marathon to raise money for Hearing Dogs for Deaf People. Please donate a little at www.justgiving.com/guyblaskey