At Alchemy, much of our work focuses on a capitalistic approach to social impact – strategies that have tangible benefits to the community, and yield a measurable ROI. This “everybody wins” model is at the core of good cause marketing, and why we are so passionate about our work. Yet, I want to discuss for the moment a different type of return, and the concept of “spiritual currency.”
We all gain when we are in the service of others, and companies are no different. Often it is the charitable act of serving others, with no intention of return, that is the most powerful catalyst to positive change within an organization. When companies commit to empowering their labor force, to giving back to community, or to environmental sustainability, simply because it is the right thing to do, a karmic energy is felt by all. Employees feel a greater sense of pride, and customers feel a deeper brand affinity. Further, such engagement can shift an organization’s ability to more clearly define its brand ideal, a brilliant concept from Jim Stengel, P&G’s former global marketing director and author of GROW.
Angela Ahrendts, CEO of Burberry, talks about this very idea of human energy in a provocative TEDx speech; she presided over tremendous growth of the iconic brand, in large part due to her spiritual philosophy. It is not cause marketing – it is tapping into the transformative power of positive energy which comes from doing good. Of course, it is not always easy to sell the idea of such investment to the short-term-gain-minded shareholders of our publicly held corporations. But, the most beloved companies are those that have a defined social agenda, be it addressing education, women’s empowerment, conservation, hunger mitigation, or myriad other issues. They practice beneficence, and that make the consumer feel good. And if you can succeed in fostering that emotional connection to your customer, then you will have a long relationship with them, one that is based on something more than a mere exchange of products or services. Such equity is the holy grail of any enterprise.
So, embrace a philosophy to serve. Apply effective cause marketing as a way to activate this commitment. And watch your customers magically draw closer to your brand. Now that’s the spirit!
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