How to Market As An Upstanding Community Corporate Citizen
Many owners of small and medium-sized businesses today understand the logic of giving generously and of associating themselves with community causes. This makes terrific business sense on so many levels. Unfortunately far too many of those same business owners miss the opportunity of marketing their generosity and largesse because of a huge 'must always be humble' burden often inherited from childhood. I recently issued a newsletter to address this.
You know there are three legs to the Bullet Proof trifecta. Successful companies are passionate about their customers. Have wickedly simple processes. And are upstanding community citizens.
This past seven day period was the national volunteer week. Rather coincidentally, a fitting time to share the Bullet Proof view of what it means to be an upstanding community citizen. There are many ways to look at this whole topic; it won’t surprise you that I believe it best for successful companies to take the long view.
So, this newsletter I will assume you are on your way and share how to make the practice work better for you. Next newsletter we'll tackle some of the ways you could simultaneously strengthen your community activism and your brand image.
The most important things to keep in mind are you must find ways to make it work to your advantage first, and you want to remain disciplined about how you go about it.
There are some hard truths today. There is less money for ‘good works.’ There are more causes seeking assistance. Fewer people are stepping up, volunteering and donating; more businesses are stepping up AND volunteering AND donating.
Smart businesses have become very strategic with their donations of cash and ‘in-kind’. Here are some of the things they now do generally around the world and more specifically in Canada:
- Establish a fixed pot of money for the year. This gives them greater flexibility -- especially for turning away what seems to be an endless supply of requests for money.
- Establish the kinds of causes they will ONLY associate with and then clearly publish those guidelines on their website as an easy referral tool – for both the welcomed and the unwelcomed. Here are two completely different examples, one from Telus and one from Jackson Triggs.
- Associate themselves with Imagine Canada and follow the 1% pretax guidelines. Giving 1% of pretax profits will register a bare blip on the radar of all profitable businesses.
- Demand recognition for their efforts. If they don’t get the credit they seek, they are unafraid to review their decision to continue to stay with the cause.
How to Politely Brag?
As Canadians, we all learn to brag and call attention to ourselves is terrible. However, when done with humility, tooting one’s horn is indeed a beautiful thing. Plus, no one ever objects when someone ELSE sings our praises.
So, the real question is: How to do it in a friendly,
acceptable “Canadian” way?
Here are a few things for you to consider to toot your own horn politely:
- On the front page of your website, your footer area is ‘prime real estate.” No, it is not as excellent as your "above the fold" area, but it still is good because it is on the front page. Consider including the logo and a backlink to your prime cause (or even a cluster of your causes) with the phrase, ‘We proudly support ….’
- Alternatively, consider a tab in your main menu bar called Our Community Involvement, We Give Back or even We Care. Now you have an entire PAGE to discuss the issues that are most near and dear to your heart. Without bragging about yourself, you are highlighting them. Please do NOT bury all this in a blog post. Nobody reads your blog posts for your community activism. Keep your community involvement separate and apart and make your causes and by extension, YOURSELF shine.
- On your Facebook and Instagram feeds, designate one day a week JUST for your causes. Highlight them and their activities. Start the post with -- We support, Come and visit us at, We love and endorse. None of this is bragging directly. However, it is called Sharing the Love. By making them look good, you look fantastic!
There are many ways of marketing yourself and your good works to your best advantage -- both expensively and inexpensively -- without appearing as a braggart.
The main thing to remember is your focussed, and consistent attention will all come back to you over the long haul. And you will ultimately show your community that you are a successful leader worth paying attention to and worth doing business with.
Want to discuss more? We are always happy to chat!
Charlene Norman is known as the Chief Innovator. Always an overachiever, she knows ‘best in class’ is merely a starting point. As a trusted advisor and mentor, she delights in helping clients get and keep the MORE they desire.