Social Enterprises Must Move Beyond Purpose

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Social Enterprises Must Move Beyond Purpose

Now that every marketing campaign involves a slice of giving back, what can businesses for good do to set themselves apart?
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.@goodmustgrow Heath Shackleford discusses #purpose and #socent #consumers
Tuesday, April 23, 2013 - 3:25pm

CONTENT: Article

Once upon a time, it was easy for a social enterprise to stand out and get noticed. Early entrants to the space were rewarded handsomely with attention and accolades because of their higher calling and charitable business models. But if you’re a social business trying to differentiate in today’s marketplace, purpose is no longer a golden ticket. Here’s why:

Purpose is pervasive

While “green” was one of the hottest buzzwords of the last decade, it is quickly being surpassed by “good." Purpose and social responsibility are bordering on ubiquity in marketing campaigns and mission statements. It’s getting really crowded in the “stand for something” line.

Purpose can be perplexing

Consumers want to vote with their wallets, and they honestly desire to support purposeful organizations, but the fact remains there are many false, inaccurate and misleading claims out there. Amidst the green washing and window dressing, today’s consumer is understandably dazed and confused and isn’t likely to take your declaration of purpose at face value.

Purpose does not equal purchase

The reality is that you can’t compete on doing good if you’re not doing good for the customer first. Edelman’s goodpurpose study shows that when quality and price are equal, social purpose ranks as the most important trigger for selecting a brand. To be clear, the study states that if you’re able to successfully compete on price and quality, then you can try your hand at competing on purpose.

So if you can’t stand out by purpose alone, what’s a social enterprise to do?