I was pleasantly surprised at the excellent OxfordJam gathering last month to see the interest amongst social enterprises of all shapes and sizes in a familiar topic – branding and marketing. Having spent the last few years at Procter & Gamble building brands like Pampers I have no doubt in the power of marketing!
While I expected everyone at OxfordJam to be discussing social finance, given the recent launch of Big Society Capital, it was great to see that even sessions focused on social investment, like Paul Cheng’s, turned into a debate about consumer behaviours and the need to apply concepts from the marketing of luxury brands into the social enterprise sphere.
This was all music to my ears as I strongly believe that we need stronger brands in the social enterprise sector, better use of marketing approaches, and more people with marketing experience, to successfully design and bring to market the fantastic products and services that social enterprises offer.
In my first On Purpose placement at The Shaftesbury Partnership I’ve been reassured by the fact that I’m able to transfer my marketing skills to a new sector, for example by identifying reasons why potential customers for a social venture don’t use the service, and developing messages to overcome these barriers.
Although global companies with well-established brands and social enterprise start-ups offering a new product or service have vastly different resources, the basic marketing approach remains the same:
- Start with defining your audience, understanding their needs and motivations
- Build on this to develop adequate products/ services and messages
- Finally, communicate to your audience, leveraging influencers and using relevant tools (eg. an event, social media, or a magazine ad ) to captivate them.
And the good news is with less money and fewer agencies, you get to do a lot of the work yourself, which is even more fun!
Our Friday afternoon training at Bain & Company three weeks ago summed up the importance of customer loyalty in business growth and reinforced that you can only deliver loyalty through a deep, consistently renewed understanding of your customers.
These are definitely exciting times for a marketer to be working in the social enterprise space!