I don’t have a lot of money.
I make a conscious choice when I buy something because my budget is limited. If I can’t donate directly to a cause I care about, I make sure I buy products that support my personal priorities.
I avoid buying anything that has been tested on animals or comes in a plastic container that I can’t recycle. I’ve gone weeks without covering my gray hair because our co-op was out of henna (less than $2 and completely environmentally friendly).
I’m one of the 81% of consumers that will make personal sacrifices to address social and environmental issues. So clearly I’m not alone in my quest to strengthen my buying power.
In Do You Want Passion or Profit? Why Not Both?, I shared the following:
We have the ability to choose our own business priorities and we can certainly choose cold, hard cash. Or we could choose to do a little good. Maybe our small business can’t change the world, but we can make our small portion a better place.
If you’re ready to incorporate some good deeds into your business, in a completely heartfelt way, here’s a few ideas that will help you get started.
Choose a Social Cause
In Why Human Rights Are My Top Business Priority in 2017, I explained that my business has stayed far away from politics as a rule. I’ve written many times about how supporting controversial issues can hurt your brand and how you should tread lightly before making public statements.
However, equality is my line in the sand. For a wide variety of reasons, I’m taking my support of equality and human rights to the forefront of my business. I don’t think this is controversial. Rather, it’s the essence of what my business was built on 20 years ago. I’m just now giving that a public voice.
You will have to decide on what social or environmental causes you are most passionate about and what fits into your business model. For example, many products have Fairtrade ingredients. Irene Falcone explains that:
“Fairtrade ensures fair prices, living wages and community benefits for farmers, workers and their families in developing countries. Fairtrade works in partnership with farmers to empower them, and produce raw ingredients with fairer prices, betters terms of trading, as well as additional funds for business and community development.”
Highlighting Fairtrade issues would be a great way to start promoting a social cause. Customers want to buy products that use Fairtrade ingredients and you could share interesting, uplifting or even challenges within Fairtrade industries. Choose the social cause that you care about the most and fits into your existing business.
Focus On Your Most Important Issues Only
I recently signed up for a digital news service and I could pick whatever issues I was interested in. I think I signed up for 25 channels (no one has that kind of time!). Sure, I’m interested in endangered animals, solar energy, voting rights, poverty, drug abuse, and hundreds of other important issues. Yet, I can’t save the world and neither can my business.
You don’t want your message to get caught in the noise. Rather, you want to narrow your focus to your most important issues. It’s already hard to stand out in a crowded marketplace. The idea is to use your passion to increase sales and do some good in the world.
Martial Arts business consultant, Tom Callos, has a page on his website for “people, projects, and things I love, respect, and/or admire”. This mainly involves environmental and human rights issues. He’s extremely vocal about the things he supports and the things he doesn’t. Get clear with what you want to communicate and focus all your efforts on those causes. Don’t try to do everything, as you’ll be more effective in one area than trying to tackle World Peace.
Promote, Share, Volunteer and Engage
With a chose social agenda and a clear message, it’s time to create content that supports your new marketing strategy. And don’t be afraid to say it’s a marketing strategy because it definitely is. It’s not a ploy to get sales because you actually believe in your causes.
Create a marketing plan that incorporates your new social or environmental cause. Reach out and engage with other businesses and contact nonprofits that support these issues. Volunteer your time or make donations. Don’t be afraid to make this a foundation of your social media posts, as engaging consumers on social issues is a lot easier than getting them to like a new product. Think about tapping into a specific target market that cares about the same things you do.
Maybe your business won’t be able to change the world, but you can certainly make a difference.