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When you start a new business, what is on your mind? Costs, employees, compliance, how to turn a profit, etc. Corporate and social responsibility (CSR) normally does not enter your vocabulary until much later. This, although somewhat understandable, is unfortunate because your community is your client base and without them your business stays on the tarmac. Entertainers know that very well; without their fans they are as good as a raincoat in the desert.
CSR starts with understanding what role you want to play in your community and what are your responsibilities as a provider. If you are selling security devices, you are responsible for the safety of all the homes that purchased this device. Your role is to educate home owners on how to protect themselves by using this product. CSR is not only a highly desired community service, it is a sensible business tool. Your clients do not just purchase your product, they put their faith in you: in your product, service and guarantee.
In other words, people do not buy products, they buy into a brand and the trust that made the product into a brand. Your responsibility also extends to socially responsible investments as well as charities. Investing your profits into companies that produce harmful substances is not responsible and is dumb as it can ruin your hard earned reputation. Remember, a very powerful sales tool is called recommendation, endorsement, or word of mouth. A lot of businesses do as much as 30-40% of their sales by word of mouth, also known as viral marketing. This brings us to what may be termed as the wisdom of the crowed, a.k.a. social media: from the dorm room with love! Social media has become a major player in business, a tool that is reshaping the way people find and share information. It puts the people in charge: they find you and they tell their friends what kind of services you provided. If you did well, sales will pour in without getting off the couch, however, if you did poorly, they will organize a community picnic in your corporate boardroom that has become unnecessary. Forums, big as well as small, are great ways to tap into niche markets, introduce yourself, get involved and promote your product. You may also want to start your own forum and invite your clients and associates. How about blogs? Yes, the advice is: blog, blog and then blog some more. Publish your new product description, spread reviews, offer your expertise, etc, make yourself visible and build trust and authority. While you are busy with all these attention grabbers, do not forget your reputation management. Two important recommendations: (1) reputation management is not pulling on the tongues of the reviewers (see our blog on reputation management myths), and (2) it starts on the day you open your business, not when a pile of negative reviews have burned a hole in your good name. To learn more about our CSR service, please feel free to contact us.
Last updated: 7/22/2011