[We are continuing our series on the highlights and key takeaways from social impact and innovation conferences around the world. You can view our calendar of upcoming conferences, and let us know of others you’d like to share!]
I was pleased to attend my first national conference of the Social Enterprise Alliance (@SocEnt Alliance) in Los Angeles last month. I was fortunate enough to meet David Coy (reachable here), Senior Marketing & Communications Associate at a leading organization that invests in the growth and effectiveness of social enterprises: REDF. David graciously agreed to share some of his thoughts from the conference, as he has attended three of these gatherings.
With several hundred participants, the conference showcased a wide variety of social enterprises that broke into two broad categories: 1) nonprofits running a social impact business to help fund their operations and carry out their missions, and/or 2) for-profit businesses with a bottom line that includes a social/environmental purpose.
The biggest takeaway for me? The sector is realizing that their marketing actually has to spotlight quality on BOTH sides of the equation: both the story of their social impact AND the effectiveness and efficiency of their entrepreneurial venture’s product.
For us communicators, this is important. In the past, we may have wanted to focus our reader’s attention on the social good that emerges from social enterprise work (empowering communities, offering meaningful work to hard-to-employ folks, producing recycled or recyclable products, etc.). But just as important is communicating the high quality, desirability, and benefits to the consumer that each product or service provides.
David got the same impression: “You need to lead your brand with a quality product or service. Too many social enterprises lead with the social impact or who the business empowers.” Instead, we learned, “Put forth a quality product and use its social benefit as the ‘add-on’ to trigger a purchase as part of marketing.”
That gets to the heart of one of the key rules in marketing: “Know thy customers and keep listening to what matters to them.” Continue reading