Over the holidays I came across this wonderful non-profit initiative that screamed out a for-profit partner. Called ‘Pack For A Purpose,’ the concept is simple. If you are traveling to a remote part of the world whose population that has many needs, allocate part of your packing to solving one of those problems. For instance, pack a First Aid Kit, education materials, sports equipment or whatever solution to a social issue has personal meaning to you.
Not only is this a brilliant idea because it inspires the countless number of people who circle the globe each year to remote place to become architects of social change. But it also represents an incredible opportunity for a luggage brand to catalyze a deep and meaningful bond with their audience.
Imagine, at the high end of the market a Louis Vitton, Tumi or Gucci, or at the adventurer end, Patagoni, Elephant Trunk or PelicanPro, challenging its customer base to leave each village, city or country slightly better off than when they arrived. It’s a simple idea that turns a consumer brand into a global force for change.
The potential results for the brand cannot be overstated. As each traveller recounts with pride the big difference his or her small effort made, they will spread awareness of the brand in the same breath. And by becoming an integral part of a meaningful and sharable travel memory – each of whom is armed with the web, smart phones and social media to spread word of their efforts – the brand will earn customer goodwill and loyalty on unprecedented levels. It is a simple idea that taps into a huge opportunity right in front of our noses, but that’s what makes it so powerful.
This is but one of countless examples of how for-profit brands can partner with non-profits to earn goodwill, loyalty and sales from their customer community while also building a better world. In doing so, however, there are three main points to remember:
1. Ensure there is an authentic alignment between the cause and the brands core values to avoid accusations of greenwashing or cause washing.
2. Engage your customers as partners in fulfilling your common goal based on shared values.
3. Immediate reward and upgrade your customer engagement to avoid community attrition and inspire a greater number of brand ambassadors to build your business with you.
With this example in mind challenge yourself to answer these three questions to set you off on a path in 2013 that wiull build your business, increase your social impact and give yourself a competitive advantage over others.
1. What is one fresh and creative way that your company and its employees could transform the lives of others in a way that underscores the core values of your brand?
2. How can you transform this cause work into a marketing campaign that builds your brand awareness and attracts participants?
3. How can this first effort be framed as part of a longer brand story arc that will build your business over the long term?
Read some of the stories by travellers who have already risen to the challenges of adding meaning to their lives while imporving conditions for others. What non-profit could you partner with in a creative ways to make a difference to your business and our world?
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Simon Mainwaring is founder of We First, a social branding consulting firm that helps companies, non-profits and individuals use social media to build communities, profits and positive impact.