By Mandy Nelson

Get a social conscience.

We’re becoming immune to traditional ways of marketing. On top of that, most advertising media are too expensive for small-to-medium enterprises. Cold calling and direct mail don’t have the impact they used to have. What is a business to do!

Every business still needs to commit to an annual amount tagged for marketing that is seen as a cost of sales generating a return on investment, not as an expense to the business. This marketing budget must be allocated to extract the best possible value. Businesses should be prepared to spend a portion of it on highly original creative concepts. Excellent creative thinking must apply not only to the content of your campaign but also to channels through which you reach your market. Social media outlets are going to feature in almost every promotion. These channels are affordable, can be professionally managed, cleverly targetted and the results are measurable – sometimes in real time. Can’t afford print media? Think laterally about options like t-shirts worn at a big event; chalk pavement art; or organising a flash mob performance by your local sports club outside a big game and spreading a video of that over social media. Think about aligning your business with another business, organisation or charity that shares your values, location, goals – or provides a complementary service to your business. Consider anything that is legal and visible to your target!

We ran a campaign recently for Paul Reed Homes, a Christchurch-based building company with no significant history of advertising and no social media presence. Our strategy was to create a socially-concious programme with a large component of social media activity. The budget had to cover creative concepts and social media costs as well as a $5,000 donation to charity.

scoial conscience marketing

Example post on Paul Reed Home’s Facebook page

Here’s how it worked.
• G&A developed a campaign concept that reflected the values and brand of Paul Reed Homes and creatively connected him with other organisations having compatible values: a win-win situation.
• G&A and social media managers ESM set up a brand new Facebook page for Paul Reed Homes.
• Paul Reed Homes purchased $5,000 worth of warm woollen gloves at the start of winter from local manufacturer Untouched World, a well-established local manufacturer and retailer with an excellent reputation, a social conscience and good level of social media following.
• Paul Reed Homes donated the gloves to the Christchurch City Mission, chosen as a trusted organisation with the facility and knowledge to distribute these to those who need them.
• G&A photographed the pick-up and delivery of the gloves by Paul Reed and wrote a media release emphasising the use of a marketing budget in a socially-conscious way.
• The media release and photos were sent to the right journalist at the Christchurch Press, who wrote and published a story which subsequently reached an estimated 25,000 readers and attracted 100 per cent positive comment online.
• Untouched World and the Christchurch City Mission were invited ‘like’ Paul Reed Home’s page and to share the story on their social media sites, which they did.
• Paul Reed Home’s Facebook page ran a ‘teaser’ campaign prior to the newspaper article showing Paul Reed himself revealing facts and figures about Christchurch’s homeless and needy. The last posting revealed what he was going to do about it: i.e. lead by example, donate gloves to the City Mission and invite others to do the same. Over a period of about three weeks, this new page gained 77 targetted ‘likes’ without investing in aditional page promotion.
• To make it easy for others to donate, G&A and ESM worked with Paul Reed Homes to set up a Givealittle page for one month where the public could give funds to purchase more warm gloves.
• The only conventional advertising ran in Avenues magazine in August, inviting donations to the Givealittle page.

Social conscience marketing

Print ad for Paul Reed Homes

Paul Reed Homes has begun an evolving long-term generic branding programme and delivered a clear message about its company values. The company can expand upon this type of campaign every year, aligning itself with different businesses for mutual benefit, and organisations it can help. These might include community groups, a school, or other charities that need fundraising. The nature of house building suggests that new business will not be instant but the company’s name is now getting visibility. It is important that future campaigns exhort the same values and are persistent yet flexible enough to carry new creative. Watch this space!