Ogilvy Public Relations has been a leader in social marketing for nearly three decades. We’ve helped government agencies and Fortune 500 companies change minds, shift attitudes, redefine norms, and support sustained individual and community behavior change.
Today, we were joined by three experts in corporate social marketing to discuss how companies across a wide range of industries can become agents of socially responsible behavior change, building on corporate responsibility commitments to contribute even more so to the well-being of individuals and society:
- Nancy Lee, Consultant, Author and Adjunct Faculty Member, the University of Washington Dan Evans School of Public Affairs, Seattle University’s Institute for Public Service and the University of South Florida’s School of Public Health
- Michael Sachse, Vice President, Regulatory Affairs and General Counsel, Opower
- Vidya Plainfield, North America, Senior Category Marketing Manager, Nutricia
Our conversation was led by Robert Terry, Managing Director of the Washington Business Journal, our event partner.
Several themes emerged during our discussion –
Authenticity is essential. One of the toughest challenges for businesses interested in implementing corporate social marketing initiatives is remaining authentic. Nancy Lee emphasized that companies must build programs that are congruent with their business objectives and brand identity. Companies who use corporate social marketing programs solely as a mechanism to combat critics can come off as inauthentic, instead of genuine.
Providing consumers with actionable information will help gain their loyalty. During the panel discussion Vidya Plainfield noted that today’s businesses need to help people live the lives they want to live. The goal should be not to push people, but to find them where they are, and give them information that’s useful to them. This includes providing them with reasonable advice for changing their behaviors–it’s not enough to simply ask people to change. Businesses must give consumers the knowledge and tools to change.
Corporate social marketing can deliver a double bottom line. All of the panelists noted that corporate social marketing initiatives can have an impact on a company’s revenue and a specific societal issue concurrently. Case in point, Michael Sachse noted that Opower helps its clients bolster their revenue while helping consumers reduce their energy consumption. This “double bottom line” can reap enormous benefits for corporations.
Results can be a business’ best friend. When it comes to behavior change, consumers want to understand the return on their investment. For example, if they consume less gasoline each month, how much money will they save? If they eat fewer calories, how many pounds will they lose? Hence, sharing metrics on corporate social marketing initiatives can help drive the success of these initiatives. Michael Sachse suggested that companies should build a compelling case for their programs by embracing their data, and using it as a proof point to build a case with consumers. He also commented that programs that can’t make a compelling, data-driven case, just won’t stick around.
Today’s panelists emphasized another key insight as well – driving business is already about driving behavior change. So, driving socially responsible behavior change is a natural fit for companies who wish to build brand loyalty among their consumers, increase revenue, and contribute to the wellbeing of their communities.
Let’s keep the dialogue going online–how do you believe companies can become agents of socially responsible behavior change? Share your thoughts here.