There are new rules in the community engagement game. Converting a prospect into a customer is not about slick advertising or offering the greatest deal anymore. Instead, corporations must understand the importance of building relationships that keep customers coming back for more of their products and services. That relationship building happens in the community rather than in a conference room, through email, or a cold sales call. Connecting through community outreach, cause-based programs, and corporate volunteering builds alignment between consumers and your company. That translates into a loyal customer base built on engagement and interaction.
Focus on the People
An organization needs to genuinely understand and relate to its customers and its employees before it can engage them. So, do your research. Find out what causes are important to your community and employees through conversations or even a survey. If it’s an initiative they believe in and can stand behind, you’ll not only garner volunteers and donors, but true advocates for your cause. Perhaps you work with a broad range of charitable organizations so you can utilize various strengths you have in your workforce. Or, maybe you start small by organizing a single fundraising event or establishing a partnership with a local charity. Whatever your initiative, keep in mind your business objectives and the people who will help you achieve them.
Have a Plan
Your company has a strategic business plan based on your organization’s goals. Use those same goals to develop a cause marketing plan. An effective cause marketing program should be designed to have a positive impact, engage employees and customers, and improve your company’s bottom line. By mapping out what you hope to achieve through your plan, you will be able to identify who you need to engage and how you will engage them. When you engage your customers, have a specific goal in mind, whether it’s improving your company’s image, nurturing customer loyalty, or differentiating your company from competitors.
Distinguish Yourself from Competition
Customer engagement is about having an open and ongoing dialogue, not only through your customer service representatives and through social media, but also through real world experiences. Working in the community on a volunteer basis allows your employees to build trust and form relationships through honest interactions. Those interactions will likely create a positive experience for both customers and employees. Use this to your advantage and identify your corporate volunteering program as a way to distinguish yourself from competitors. Engaged customers are more likely to recommend or advocate a product or service to a friend. And they are more likely to choose your company over a competitor, if they’ve had a positive and meaningful interaction with you.
Another aspect of community outreach is the relationships that your customers create with each other. The conversation surrounding your philanthropic efforts won’t be limited to interaction with only your employees. Peer to peer relationships are sure to form. In this way, taking an energetic role in community outreach also facilitates an active, passionate community, rather than just creating an audience. Your community outreach increases your visibility as your company becomes the glue that bonds people together.
Partnering corporate with community is mutually beneficial in so many ways. Your employees put their skills to work for a common good and feel more valuable for doing so. Your community, which is full of potential customers, benefits from your outreach and builds a relationship through positive experiences.
Need help getting a corporate philanthropy program started? Contact FrontStream today to learn more about our tools that can be customized to fit your company’s specific needs.