Imagine this scenario. You’re a manufacturer of a men’s razor, you’re going into the holiday season, you’ve just introduced a new product, but all of a sudden you hear about a movement that encourages men NOT to shave. Sounds like a pretty big problem, doesn’t it? In fact, that is exactly what Gilette has been facing for the last couple of years. According to an article in Ad Age, men have been shaving less anyway (mustaches are officially back!), but during the month of November especially, shaving is not a popular thing to do. Why? The Movember movement.
If you aren’t online much, you might never have heard of this cause. The basic idea is that for the month of November, men grow out their mustaches to visually show support for fighting prostate cancer and for prostate cancer awareness. Men can create donation pages where people can also contribute to help fight prostate cancer. It’s a fun way to raise awareness about a serious problem. Men can show pictures of their growing “mo”s or mustaches, and sometimes women even apply a digital “mo” to show support. All excellent news unless you’re a manufacturer of men’s razors. Or so you would think.
This year, according to the Ad Age article, Gilette is adopting more of a “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” approach. The company has launched a new facial trimmer, so they have jumped onto the Movember bandwagon this month with a reminder that you can keep that growing mo looking nicely trimmed with their new product.
This might seem disingenuous on Gilette’s part, and you may even feel that they are perhaps demeaning the importance of the Movember message. However, social good is becoming something that companies in all industries need to begin to tune in to. An article from March 2012 published in the Huffington Post by Jon Carson (founder of BiddingforGood.com, a charitable e-commerce site) suggests that “the climate is ripe for social enterprises to be profitable while making great contributions toward social good.” He goes on to say:
Because right now many institutions face deep, universal funding challenges due to stock market losses, reductions in charitable giving, and lost government resources. There is no choice for them but to be innovative, either on their own or with the help of an outside company that can create jobs and benefits for society in the process.
Richard Branson, CEO and founder of Virgin Records (and then Virgin Mobile and Virgin Airlines, among other things) has been a proponent of businesses engaging in social good for years, as this article from the Guardian notes. In fact, that same article cites an Edelman study that says 73% of people polled would choose a company aligned to a good cause versus one with no social good affiliation.
What this means for you
Maybe your company isn’t as big as Virgin or Gilette. That does not mean that the opportunity to engage in social good is beyond your grasp. Especially with online communication, it’s easier than ever to align your company with good causes. These opportunities can also help “humanize” your brand or make people feel that you are more accessible. For example, perhaps one of your employees is currently fighting prostate cancer. Your company could update all of the pictures on your website’s “contact us” page to include a “mo” and to explain why you have done that. Add a link to a donation page and you’ve created a compelling message, a tribute to your employee, and, pragmatically, a reason to drive traffic to your website.
In addition to being a good thing to do, social good also creates a long tail of positivity around your company. It’s a way to affiliate your company with causes that people feel good about supporting. By extension, people feel good about affiliating with you. PR can maximize the impact of your good deeds so long as it does not get to the point of perpetual back-slapping. People can tell when you are being phony versus when you are actually trying to improve the world.
If you want to get the most “bang for your buck” out of all of your marketing tactics, investing in some social good, even locally, can be a great first step. If you have any experiences with this you’d like to share, or if you have any questions, please leave us a comment below!
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/44313045@N08/6176064777/ via Creative Commons