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Since our recent announcement that we’ve moved to embrace social impact marketing, we’ve been getting questions about what that term means.

The idea is pretty straightforward: Good marketing helps a socially conscious organization to grow, thereby increasing its reach — and its ability to do good.

What are socially conscious organizations?

On the nonprofit side, it’s a group whose primary mission is to support, empower or bring positive change to the community. Examples include Hollister Creative clients Delaware County Children’s Advocacy CenterAO North America and Vision 2020, the National Women’s Equality Initiative housed at Drexel University.

In the corporate world, it’s a for-profit company that aligns itself with one or more causes that seeks to make the world a better place. While some adopt a cause as part of their brand identity, others take the additional step of getting certified as a “B Corp.” According to Bcorporation.net, “B Corps … meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency.” Hollister Creative client Nolan Painting was one of Pennsylvania’s first B Corps.

Social consciousness becomes a benefit not only to the cause, but to the company: It increases the emotional effectiveness of marketing campaigns, fosters brand loyalty, and aids in employee recruitment and retention (who wouldn’t want to work for a company that’s committed to the greater good?).

The future of business

Social responsibility is increasingly important to all consumers, but especially to millennials. As a recent story from Forbes points out, “Millennials prefer to do business with corporations and brands with pro-social messages, sustainable manufacturing methods and ethical business standards.”

The story goes on to say that Nielson’s 2015 Global Corporate Sustainability Report “indicated that, globally, 66% of consumers are willing to spend more on a product if it comes from a sustainable brand. Millennials gave an even more impressive showing, with 73% of surveyed millennials indicating a similar preference. Additionally, 81% of millennials even expect their favorite companies to make public declarations of their corporate citizenship.”

So it’s clear that consumers are demanding more accountability and responsibility from brands — and organizations that embrace this are seeing the results. Two high-profile examples are Ben & Jerry’s and Warby Parker.

Ben & Jerry’s, besides making delicious ice cream, is a certified B Corporation that supports organizations such as Farm Aid and advocates for mandatory GMO labeling for genetically modified foods. It also supports sustainable and humane farming; commits to fair trade practices; and has formed the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation to foster employees’ philanthropic side and community support.

Eyeglass maker Warby Parker, another B Corp, has helped more than 3 million people all over the world through its Buy-A-Pair, Give-A-Pair program: for every pair purchased, one is donated to someone in a developing country. Additionally, it has a carbon-neutral policy and conducts regular environmental checks to ensure the company is staying on top of their “green” commitments.

Stick to the truth

If your company decides on a social impact marketing strategy, sincerity is a must.  Your core values, mission statement and actions all need to reflect and support your decision. Now more than ever, corporate social responsibility is in the spotlight. And companies that ignore this fact are feeling the backlash from consumers who increasingly vote with their wallets.

To see proof, you need only look at the experiences of Volkswagen and Abercrombie & Fitch. Volkswagen is still reeling from the fallout from marketing itself as environmentally friendly, and then getting caught cheating on emissions tests. The CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch made remarks critical of teens who didn’t fit his definition of attractive or cool, in direct contradiction to the company’s mission statement supporting diversity and inclusion. In 2015, Volkswagen’s stock dropped about 30 percent in the days following news of the emissions scandal; Abercrombie’s tumbled about 17 percent in 2013 when an interview resurfaced in which the CEO said, among other things, “A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong.”

The key to an effective social impact marketing strategy — and in turn, the growth of your organization — is sticking to the truth. Your organization must honestly embrace the causes it supports, and it’s essential that all communications reflect the core values.

If your organization’s values include changing the world for the better, we’d be honored to help you achieve your goals. Call Kim Landry at 484-829-0021 or email [email protected]

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