How CSR Marketing Can Transform Your Business—and the World

In the past few decades, CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) has evolved quite a bit. What began as a fringe movement, reserved for only the most progressive companies, has become standard operating procedure for much of the business world. Giving back is a rewarding endeavor in itself, but CSR can be much more.

Why engage in CSR marketing?

The purpose of CSR is to make the world a better place, but in order to do this successfully, the corporation itself must thrive. This is why it’s important to develop subtle ways in which to let others know that your business is acting in their best interest. Many consumers nowadays are highly committed to supporting companies with a clean, positive presence within the community.

You don’t want to be over-the-top in your CSR marketing. After all, excessively advertising the good deeds you perform will leave a negative impression. To put it bluntly, you don’t want to show off. Be passionate in your actions, yet humble in the public eye.

Harvard Business Review divides CSR into three basic theaters: philanthropy, internal operations, and transforming the business model. How you market your CSR depends on which category your efforts fall into.

CSR MarketingPhilanthropy

The first theater involves directly giving back to the public. Establishing scholarships, donating to nonprofits, and sending employees to volunteer within the community are all good examples. Most companies devote a section of their website to describing their values and CSR endeavors, which is an essential first step. Since the consumers are already visiting your site, it’s not blatant advertising. Including a short summary of your CSR activity in your company description communicates your company values and purpose, and will build a connection with consumers who value the same issues. This is also a great spot to include a link to your corporate giving request form; submission management software can help you intake and manage requests from the public.

Volunteering within the community is a wonderful way to provide a positive public-facing image. Volunteers should wear company T-shirts, hats, and other identifying gear since it’s sensible that they would wear something to distinguish them as a work crew. Include something about the event itself on the clothing, and let the volunteers keep the items as a reward for helping. Long after the event, they’ll wear them with pride—further boosting your brand image.

Establishing scholarships is a must for large corporations. Including the company name in the scholarship’s title is standard procedure and never considered too direct. After all, it’s an important way to distinguish your awards from those provided by other sources.

Donating equipment and other materials is a good way to help others. Marking these donated items with your company name and logo will leave a lasting impression—just don’t make it too large or obvious; it should not be the primary focus.

Within the company

The second theater involves internal decisions designed to steer your company toward sustainability, eco-friendliness, and low emissions. These efforts should be well noted on your website and on any goods when applicable. For example, using 100 percent recycled materials for packaging should definitely be displayed on your product. Many consumers go out of their way to purchase such goods.

Investing in your workforce is another CSR effort. Paying for education, providing childcare, and other forms of employee support all fall into this realm. You should be a bit more obvious when notifying the public and your employees about these services and perks. Your CSR marketing will go a long way toward hiring top-notch new employees as well as keeping your existing staff members happy and productive.

Transforming business

The third theater involves the evolution of the modern business model. Some notable examples include fair trade agreements, micro-finance loans for third-world individuals, and attempts to improve working conditions overseas. Your efforts should be noticeable in these places since one goal of such projects is to open up new markets across the globe.

CSR isn’t just a buzzword anymore. It’s a key element of the modern business world. By adopting the right CSR marketing platform and strategies, you can ensure that your company finds the success it needs to keep paying it forward.

Rachel Mindell

Rachel Mindell is a Special Projects Editor at Submittable. She also writes and teaches poetry. Connect with her on LinkedIn.