From WIIFM to WIIFU
Effective communication to your end-users and stakeholders
Chia-Li Chien | Feb. 14 2011
From publicly traded large companies, to privately-held small businesses, thousands or even millions of dollars are spent annually on marketing. However, marketing is by far the most difficult business activity for which to measure return on investment (ROI). In today’s multi-media world, businesses have a plethora of marketing tools to leverage, but many of us may feel we can’t even catch up with the latest news, much less integrate the newest technology into current marketing efforts and strategy.
Marketing, by definition, means to create a favorable condition for sales. Your ultimate goal is to convert prospects into end-users, customers, or clients. In addition, customer loyalty activities are necessary to retain your customers. For years, marketing experts have used the “what’s in it for me” approach as the primary way to communicate their message through print and digital media (such as on-line advertising, social media, video, etc). But does that approach consistently create a pull effect (meaning pulling your customer to you)? Are you considering whether or not your marketing includes a message of positive social impact?
So what does social impact mean? According to Rachel Bellow and Suzanne Muchin, partners at ROI Ventures, it means “social intention; an intentional effect on society that has progressive consequences of social justice, access, equity, opportunity, environmental issues; but not political.” Environmental issues refer to those efforts focused mainly on the marketing environment of the human experience, human behavior and its sustainability. For example, Groupon and Google are putting the power in the hands of their end-users, thus creating social impact. It’s a good idea then, as a first step in marketing planning, to think about the positive social impact of your products or services.
A majority of entrepreneurs start their businesses with the intention of making more money and becoming financially independent. But most of them also have a great passion for doing good works for our society. (It does seem in today’s world, people want to matter more and they want their products or services to matter more.) When money and meaning ultimately meet at that crossroads, people put more demand on producers for it, and expect more from whom they buy. It’s the ultimate win-win for both buyers/users and providers, whether they are publicly traded companies, non-profit organizations, government suppliers or small businesses.
Have you considered tweaking your communications to include “what’s in it for us?” How much of a positive social impact do you bring to the marketplace? Bellow and Muchin at ROI Ventures, top experts who help entrepreneurs, philanthropists, policy makers, universities and innovative non-profits, offer social impact branding strategies for companies ready to make a positive social impact. Bellow and Muchin started ROI Ventures in 2007 and have experienced rapid growth in the social impact communication arena. Here is an example of their work:
What can you learn from a profitable, fast growing, yet intentionally socially aware company to create the stickiness of a brand that ultimately helps its providers and end-users?
• Business model alignment starts with your passion and purpose. This means taking a good idea to a great idea and helps create wealth for the owners as well as society.
• Utilizing both vertical and horizontal niches to expand the market. Bellow and Muchin apply a niche concentration on social impact communication. They apply that niche horizontally across for for-profits, non-profits and small businesses. In addition, they vertically apply this strategy across go-to-market messaging and branding services for integrated marketing and communication.
• The SHIFT from the norm. The output of your products or services plays a part of how human behavior affects a movement. The shift will occur if you have the right message. As a result, there is an effective pull from your end-users who seek you out.
Regardless what marketing tools you use to broadcast your message, you must consider the social impact in the message or content. Or, “what’s in it for us?” But it’s beyond just the communication – your intellectual property or “know-how” can be packaged in a way that leads to creating positive social footprints, further extending the reach of social impact. That is your return on investment on your communication and marketing.
Chia-Li Chien, CFP®, CRPC, PMP; helps entrepreneurs to creating business value that transforms their world. She is the author of Show Me The Money and columnist for WomenEntrepreneur.com & Fox Business online. She is available for consulting, speaking engagements and workshops. She can be reached at http://www.chialichien.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.