How to market a social enterprise
May 03 2012, 11:37 | By Infomedia18
The message you want to convey is you are not looking for donations or charity grants.
Image: Entrepreneur India Magazine
Marketing a social enterprise is a bit of tight-rope walk, and requires a fine act of balancing the positive social impact you are trying to create and awareness you would want to build. It is not just about events and newsletters, but careful communication aimed at right target audience. Remember, marketing social ventures is a long-term operation, so make it one of your core functions and devote a good percentage of efforts into it.
Stress on the social impact story
A big challenge many social enterprises face is that people usually mistake these ventures as not-for-profit or charitable organizations, just because they are tied to social causes. Here's your starting point. It's important you differentiate your firm. The key is to market the social impact you're aiming for and let your enterprise piggy-back on it, not the other way around.
This will require constant communication of the core idea behind your venture and a great deal of persistence in all your interactions with your audience. Don't defend your position, instead stress on the professional structure on which your enterprise is based, despite addressing large-scale social issues. The message you want to convey is you aren't looking for donations or charity grants.
Select your contacts with care
Every contact you engage with is critical whether or not he/she gives you immediate conversions. The employee you choose to market your social enterprise has the duty task of passing on the aspirations of your firm which may lead to further action. Choose a person who is passionate about the cause, and will convey the spirit of your firm. In such organizations employees handling projects are good fits to double up as your marketing personnel as well.
Not just any, but those specific to your space. These are good opportunities to represent your social enterprise, either by attending, or better still by participating as a speaker where you can talk about social entrepreneurship in general or specific areas of interest, depending on the nature of the event. Gatherings like these have a good mix of people from the ecosystem and nothing is more compelling than a live audience.
This is the good old traditional way. However, remember that they don't have to be big and fancy. Smaller, localized events are in all probability a more effective marketing tool. These could be even in your apartment complex, during association-led events around festivals. Else, partner with corporates, those with active corporate social responsibility departments, and ride on the events they create.
Communicate with customers
Your target audience is perhaps the best marketing communication tool you can tap. Apart from the direct talks you will have with them periodically, you should try and engage them with the normal, day-to-day activities. This will get them to see your work first-hand as opposed to listening about your concepts and most likely create a deeper, more long lasting impact. Plus, it helps build credibility and belief in the social cause you are striving to address. Remember, conversions are not as important as getting the message across. The rest will
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