Updated: Dec 12, 2019
When it comes to marketing it can have an extremely bad rap. Mostly thanks to people like this guy:
And this guy:
Nevertheless, I'm still a firm believer in using marketing as a force for good and embracing it as an art form that encompasses communication, consumer psychology, creativity, and data. In today's competitive landscape, talented marketers and amazing marketing campaigns are the one's that standout. Consumers are getting smarter and more tech-savvy, meaning, being transparent and putting the customer first should be every marketer's number one priority.
So, I would like to take the time to share my three favourite ways to use marketing as a force for good.
1. Think Social Marketing
The concept of social marketing is probably my favourite aspect of marketing. The primary goal of social marketing is to achieve "social good" and to create a positive change in behaviour. Learning about this concept in school is truly what made me fall in love with the idea of marketing.
In one of my classes back in university the Marketing and Communications specialist from the City of Edmonton did a presentation on social marketing where she shared a number of examples of the city's social marketing campaigns.
One of her examples was the Go Bagless campaign. For anyone who lives in Edmonton, I'm sure you're familiar with the ads. The overall idea of the campaign was to encourage Edmontonians to stop bagging their yard clippings and to Go Bagless, allowing clippings to spread freely across one's lawn. This not only adds additional fertilizing benefits but it also significantly reduces waste. During the summer months, grass makes up the largest portion of waste in Edmonton's landfills. By choosing to go bagless, Edmontonians contribute in reducing unnecessary waste.
The promotion outlines the three main reasons to Go Bagless:
1. It's healthier and better for your lawn
2. It's easy
3. It's better for the environment
The real beauty about social marketing is that it can easily be adapted and woven through almost any marketing plan or campaign. Thanks to Millenials and Gen Z, it's no longer enough to just offer products, these cohorts want to see companies engaging in socially responsible efforts. They want their services and products to make a difference in the world. It seems the younger the generation, the more importance they put on voting with their dollars. Because of this, if you're a company that sources ethically made products, makes an effort to be more sustainable, or creates products to help people lead more healthy lives, all of this can be positioned as a form of social marketing.
Consumers are choosing to support companies that are using their business as a force for good over the leading company that's only goal is growing their bottom line, no matter what the cost. (B corps anyone? - if you're not familiar with them, fret not, my upcoming post will go over this amazing certification) Any company that chooses to do a little more by using their products or services to create meaningful change can in and of itself be a form of social marketing. You as the marketer are educating your audience on how using your products/services creates social good, which in turn creates social change.
Consumers are more interested in the why behind your product or service. What is it doing to help make the world a better place? Share this loudly and proudly with your consumer base and it's very likely that they will not only support you with their dollars, but they will also get vocal and advocate for you through their social platforms and through the best weapon of them all, word-of-mouth.
2. Think of it as an art and a science
Marketing is far more complex than simply trying to manipulate people to buy your products through traditional marketing tactics.
Marketing is about connection and creativity. It's about using marketing strategies but in a way that's authentic to your brand and that speaks and reaches your target market. Another one of my favourite parts about marketing is strategy. It's truly like a game of chess, there may be a tiny sprinkle of luck involved, but at the end of the day it all comes down to knowing your KPIs and knowing how to grow them.
Knowledge is power, so always do your best to stay up to date on the latest trends. The learning doesn't stop as soon as you leave school, in fact, you should be working five times as hard on researching and perfecting your skills. I like to do this by doing simple things like subscribing to Hubspots daily emails and taking the latest google analytics, ad words, or facebook tutorials. If you don't do these things, someone else will and you'll unfortunately be left behind. Stay on top of your art and with enough time and dedication, you'll be the next Picasso.
"Marketing isn't about shortcuts, hustle or deception. Marketing is the art (and the science) of servicing the people you seek to serve, to do better work by finding and satisfying needs. Marketing is the practice of making things better by making better things" - Seth Godin
3. The customer IS always right
Alright, I know this statement is as traditional as it comes, however, there's merit in it. When using it, I don't necessarily mean a customer can take advantage of your company and exploit you for all you're worth. What I mean is to always keep your customer front of mind.
If you have a following already and an email list, ask for their advice by surveying them to see what they want to see next. Be sure to ask in a way that allows them to know that it's their advice that you're after and that you want them to play a role in growing your company. We now, more than ever, have amazing direct access to our customers through social media, online chat, email, etc. leverage this!
However, don't forget to keep in mind that people don't usually know what they want but they know what they don't want. You need to position your questions to your customer base in a way where you'll get to the meat of their issues. i.e. "what is your single biggest challenge when it comes to using x product?". I recently learnt this through the Ask Method by Ryan Levesque. If you're looking to survey your audience, I highly recommend studying his book. There are a lot of useful tips in it on how to ask the right questions in your survey and how to extract the answers in a way that will allow you to deliver exactly what it is they're asking for.
Not forgetting the human side of the customer is important, especially in today's digital age. Levesque even recommends jumping on the phone with your customers to better understand them. The customer should always be at the forefront of every decision that is made. What are their biggest pain points? How can you listen to them and provide them with the ultimate solution? Don't throw things at the wall hoping they'll stick, do your research, ask for your buyers and leads opinions, extract their ideas and serve them right back to them on a golden platter!
Well, if anything, I really hope this post helped inspire you to start looking at marketing as a vehicle for making the world a little bit better. Now get out there and show'em what you got!