By Darren Gilbert
However, businesses don’t really have a choice. We live in a world where customers ask more questions than in the past. They want to know what your brand stands for before they decide whether or not it is worth engaging with you. In such an environment, ‘doing good’ allows you the opportunity to connect with your customers. It also means that as a brand, you will survive while others stumble and fall away.
However, ‘doing good’ is not as easy as it may seem. One may see it as handing over a certain amount of money to a charity so that you tick off the right box but it’s not the case. In fact, while handing over money to a charity of your choice may have been seen as the standard way of showing you cared in the past, it won’t work in this day and age. Today, it’s not about ticking boxes and it’s most certainly not always about charity, believes Golembo. It’s also something that you can’t fake. Most importantly though, ‘doing good’ is not an afterthought or add-on.
“It is actually about doing something because it is part of what you do and you can’t survive without doing it,” says Golembo. “It has to be entrenched within your brand.” It’s a point agreed to by Positive Dialogue Communications managing director, Tracy Jones, who takes it further. “Brands have to live what they say. Practice what they preach is one way of putting it.” Either way, these two sayings, as clichéd as they are, are paramount in ensuring that your consumers see you as more than a brand attempting to make money.
“I truly believe that if you want to gain that trust, it comes down to the proof points,” says Golembo. “If you look at a brand such as Nedbank. One of the things that struck me when I went into the bank in the Waterfront recently was that I saw recycling bins in the corridors. It showed that while it was saying it was green, it was actually doing what it said. If you are serious about change, prove it.” It also showed that it was making a concerted effort to change its business, something which is difficult to do if it hurts the bottom line or shifts focus away from your core business.
It’s a point agreed to by Golembo. Your bottom line may well suffer but it should rather be viewed as a short term pain. One only has to look at Pfizer. In 2009, the US drug company launched
the programme, MAINTAIN™, which saw the distribution of medicine to unemployed people who didn’t have health insurance. It cost Pfizer millions if not billions of dollars. But look at the business today. It is one bright spot in a sea of darkness. As she states, don’t be afraid to do something that will affect your bottom line if it’s about uplifting or ‘doing good’. “So long as it’s genuine,” she adds
MAINTAIN™ sparked an idea for Pharma Dynamic in South Africa recently, where the local drug company attempted the same thing. Known as Patient Assist, it’s helped to differentiate itself from other local drug companies. “And that is why it is so important,” stresses Golembo. “It’s your core competitive advantage. Your good needs to go to the heart of your business to work its magic. It shouldn’t be viewed as a department somewhere far away that spends 10% of your bottom line.”
It’s also something that you can’t stop doing, says Jones. “Once you have begun something like this, you can’t decide to leave it. You’ll get left behind.” Golembo agrees. “It’s a continual process. It is the core to every single thing that you do. Every business process has to be aware of that.” Doing good isn’t about a feel-good factor that will give your consumers goosebumps when they purchase a product. In fact, it can even be argued that it’s not about you as a brand. It is rather about the difference that you make to the lives of people.
“Don’t do it thinking about your bottom line,” continues Golembo. “Do it because you want to do it. That is where you will be able to foster true genuineness and a real relationship with your consumers.”
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