A lot of B2B marketers wonder if Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs are relevant for small and mid-sized companies. They feel that CSR is the territory of Fortune 500 businesses. That’s understandable, because Fortune 500 companies make large contributions to charities - 65% of Fortune 500 companies offer matching gift programs as a way to support their employees in the causes that matter to them, and many companies know that since 55% of consumers are willing to pay more for products from socially responsible companies, it makes good business sense. So CSR is something that B2C and B2B marketers in large organizations pay attention to.
CSR for B2B Marketers in Small and Mid-Sized Companies
But what about CSR in small and mid-sized business-to-business (B2B) companies? Is it something that B2B marketers should consider in their marketing?
The short answer is, yes.
If you’re a B2B marketer in a small or mid-sized company, you probably have a limited budget and feel that you don’t have ‘extra money’ to spend on CSR. But there are direct and tangible reasons that CSR will elevate your results. Here are the 3 important ways that CSR helps B2B marketers achieve their marketing goals.
1. Build Your Brand Awareness
While lead generation is always the top priority for B2B marketers, you can’t generate leads without brand awareness. People need to know who you are and what you do in order to work with you. Having a CSR plan is an easy way to increase your brand awareness and image. You can often get additional exposure from the organization you are supporting, and that’s why you need to be strategic with your decision of which organization to support.
If your prospects are local businesses, keeping the charity local will get you the best results.
If you’re looking to sell to large enterprises, aligning with the charities they support will be a great way to connect.
It’s always a positive story when people are helping others. Even if your financial contribution is much less than the large corporations, you can still get a lot of exposure. Your company’s name may be printed or featured on key marketing materials that the charity develops, and they often get media coverage for their efforts that you can leverage. Use things like press releases and your social media channels to announce donations or other support of the charity. Expanding your reach to their network is great exposure which will ideally translate into new leads for your business.
2. Attract and Retain Talent
In today’s competitive landscape, attracting and retaining top talent is more challenging than ever. With millennials now the largest generation in the Canadian workforce, companies need to find innovative ways to attract and retain employees as millennials are motivated by many factors beyond money. Millennials want engagement. They want to work for an organization that they feel connected to.
When millennials negotiate their compensation packages, they look for things beyond the salary. Having a strong corporate social responsibility plan that engages employees could be your differentiator to attract the top talent. Part of the equation will be selecting a way for the charity to resonate with the employee, which is why many organizations choose a matching program so the employees can control where the dollars are spent. If you’re a smaller organization where you want to pool the funds for one charity to make a bigger impact, then you need to be intentional with the organization you support.
3. Attract Investors
All of Mezzanine’s clients are passionate about their businesses. That’s one of the perks of working with the owners and operators of small and mid-sized businesses. They love what they do. For many, their industry is all they know, and they are truly experts in their fields.
But sometimes they want to expand into new areas and investors often help make that happen. While your P&L matters to the investors, having good company values and good PR will definitely help. As with attracting new employees and building brand awareness, your CSR plan can help you attract the right investors if you are strategic with the charities you support and how you leverage the exposure.
The reality is that you don’t need to donate large sums of money to make a big difference. We’ve all heard the expression “every little bit counts”. The benefits you reap from a CSR initiative will far outweigh the financial investment you will be making if you do it right.
Remember, be strategic with the causes you support. Determine if it needs to be connected to your business based on geography, or the service you offer or a challenge one of your employees is facing. Regardless of what you choose, if it’s a good cause it will be good PR and it will be good for your business.
Last year corporations gave $17.8 billion dollars to charity, which helped a lot of great causes. If you want to help increase this amazing stat next year, read our blog Marketing and Corporate Responsibility: Building a Strategy for your SMB and implement a plan today.