For years, surveys have shown that it is important for customers to see that businesses care about social and community issues. Whether you own a business with over 5,000 employees or a small company with 10, your customers want to know how you are taking care of the environment and community around you. Ultimately, your actions can have a direct impact on your reputation, as well as your sales. Data by Nielsen Global revealed that 53 percent of consumers are willing to pay extra for products or services that have dedicated social impact plans.
Not only can having a sustainable purpose positively impact your bottom line, but it can also increase brand loyalty and trust, two crucial elements that many small businesses are seeking during this COVID-19 outbreak.
Your audience must know how you will make a positive impact on the community around you, and below, we lay out steps for you to make this a reality at your company.
Blend Purpose With Action
It’s excellent to have a statement, and it’s even better to make it known to your staff and customers. However, purpose without action will not resonate with your audience. Look at methods for adding strategy to your purpose. For example, in 2018, the founder of Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard, took a more direct purpose: “Patagonia is in business to save our home planet.” They have done this by giving money made from tax cuts to grassroots environmental organizations and offering grants to activist organizations. They have turned their beliefs into action strategies that define their efforts to address problems in their sector. For you, this doesn’t need to be a million-dollar effort. It’s all about seeing a need and doing what you can afford to.
Realize That Employees Need to Be Center Stage
Your employees are the closest to your customers. As a result, it is crucial that you seek their input on how to develop a purpose statement and accompanying action plan that best serves the community. First, you need to hire individuals who believe in your values. Do they embody the principles that you have established for your company? How will they bring these attributes to their work with you? These questions should be a part of the interview process. Second, allow employees to share their insights into how your company can change the community around them. Whether it is volunteering with a particular charity, or donating profits to a specific cause, give employees the chance to offer suggestions as to how you can fulfill your purpose.
Develop Goals that Align With Your Purpose
You’ve established your purpose and have an idea of how you want to fulfill it; now is the time to develop goals. A real-world example of this is Facebook’s new Small Business Grant Program. The company is offering $100 million in grants to small businesses impacted by COVID-19. They have funding goals for each state, as well as a breakdown of what they hope these funds accomplish for each small business. So, be sure to attach goals to your purpose statement to help ensure that your strategies achieve what you want them to. Again, this can be something as simple—and powerful— as the number of staff that has participated in virtual volunteering or food donated to a local pantry.
Measure Everything and Ask for Feedback From Customers
Having a purpose, developing a strategy around it, and implementing your plan are necessary steps. However, you won’t know if your tactics are successful unless you measure them. In addition to developing goals, you should also create metrics around your purpose statement actions, these can be dollar amounts, time served, or a broad aspect of community improvement. Also, be sure to ask for feedback from customers about how your programs or initiatives have impacted the community. Both of these methods will help you measure the impact of your purpose statement strategies.
Let Purpose Lead to Long-Term Action
As a small business owner, you are a part of the foundation of your community. Not only are you supplying jobs and bringing revenue into an area, but you also have the means and influence to improve the community around you. In addition to the bottom line, your small business’s purpose statement allows you to address issues that are relevant to their company operations. Showing customers that you care enough to create a purpose that impacts them isn’t just a smart thing to do; it is also the best thing to do, especially during times like these.
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