10. Building the brand and marketing
No matter whether you’re running a business or a social enterprise the most powerful marketing tool in your kit is a good story.
So says Valerie Manna, senior lecturer of marketing at Lincoln University.
She cites the example of Rekindle as a great storyteller. The Christchurch-based company takes native timber harvested from the earthquake-wrecked Christchurch homes and turns it into beautiful furniture.
“They use Facebook as their main tool, but they tell such good stories that they are widely shared. They’ve recognised that as the strength of their proposition – as well as their great product of course.”
Manna recently presented a research paper to the Australia New Zealand Marketing Association on the marketing of an app designed by Lincoln students for the Imagine Cup, a global tech competition run by Microsoft. The aim of the app was to connect people in need with others with a surplus – whether it be food, clothing, furniture – and have them connect and trade.
“They knew how to put this really complicated bit of software together, but didn’t know how to get it out there.
“What you’re talking about with social marketing is ‘I’m selling you behavioural change. I want you to stop smoking. I want you to drive the speed limit. I want you to take birth control. I want you to buy this product because it doesn’t have a detrimental effect on the environment.
“You’re trying to shape your communication and understand the obstacles to solving these big societal goals. You’re applying marketing techniques in order to get socially appropriate behaviours.”
Manna says marketing of social enterprises is often highly creative – a result of having little or no resources to fund a traditional marketing campaign. “You may have a community group with a problem, and a product or service to ameloriate it, but how are they going to market it? How do they pay for that? That’s where, traditionally, it may break down, and where people start to get creative.”
Manna says that marketers must put themselves in the shoes of their target audience when it comes to deciding the tone of their message. “For some a positive message works really well. For others you might find that a fear appeal is appropriate. You really have to know who you want to do what, and what motivates them.
“You have to ask ‘how familiar are they with the message?’ Do they have any preconceptions you have to overcome? You also have to figure out the most appropriate channels of communication to find your target market, and what you want from them. Do you want them to like you? Is it awareness? Do you want them to choose one product over another? It’s got to be really specific, because you don’t have the money to be throwing around hoping something works.”
Manna also offers some fairly traditional marketing advice: “It’s also about putting such effort into a customer experience that they come away incredibly happy; happy enough so that they become part of your marketing team.”
Last year’s Colmar Brunton Better Business, Better World survey shows that organisations are missing the mark, or mudding the water around what are doing and the way they communicate it to their customers. A whopping 64% of respondents either agreed or somewhat agreed that the way businesses talk about sustainability is “confusing.”
Valerie Manna, senior lecturer – marketing at Lincoln University.