How to Engage When Customers Don’t Give a Damn (or Dime) About What You Say

Talk is cheap. And that’s not just me being trite. It’s cheaper than ever today, as you can talk for free on numerous social media channels. And it’s cheap because it’s meaningless to customers.

Fashion icon Eileen Fisher is an example of a B Corp scoring high for how they treat employees. Eileen Fisher chose not to sell her multi-million dollar business and walk away with more money than she could spend in her lifetime. Instead, she chose to set up an employee ownership program and let those who have helped build her business take ownership and share in the profits earned by their hard work. Not only is she a leading B Corp for the fashion industry, her employees give her a 4.4 out of 5 rating as a great place to work on Indeed.com. And we all know that in the long-term, happy employees add up to happy profits and sustainable growth.

And per Patagonia’s experience, another high-scoring B Corp company, doing good for others and the world in which we live, does good for business. As founder and owner Yvon Choinard told Inc. magazine recently,

“I know it sounds crazy, but every time I have made a decision that is best for the planet, I have made money. Our customers know that — and they want to be part of that environmental commitment.” Inc. Magazine, March 2013

Large or small business, B Corp status or not, there are many things you can do to align your business with values that matter to customers and set your brand up for sustainable growth. Psychologically, we all follow leaders who represent who we are now or who we want to be. Be that brand. Or like Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” When you give people a reason to align with you that is pure, sincere and greater than the moment at hand, you take price and all of your competitors out of the equation.

Here are a few steps to consider:

Define Your Values

If this exercise keeps coming back to increased profits, you’ve just wasted 10 minutes reading this article and should check out now. If you’re still reading, don’t just define your personal values and jump right in, build your brand around your team’s values. Give your employees co-ownership of the cause behind your brand and the reason you all do what you do every day.

Get Your Hands Dirty

No one cares to hear how you’re donating a small percentage of revenues from a promotion or even your annual draw to a charity. Customers today want to see what you are doing to impact our world for the better.

Go out and find solutions that make a true difference.

Go find a way to enhance your brand’s virtues, like Patagonia did with its repair service. The brand didn’t do that to see if reverse psychology built sales like it did in the case of their “Don’t Buy This Jacket” campaign; Patagonia did it because it truly minimizes the impact on our world from their production process and their customers’ overuse of resources available. The resulting profits were the fringe and unexpected benefit.

Do Good Always in All Ways

Like Rosen pointed out, doing good is the most powerful and most critical pillar that holds a brand up in today’s conscientious consumer era. Money spent doing good for others through giving back, generous customer service policies, employee benefits and involvement, organized events to work with customers on a common cause and more will likely do more for your profitability than any content marketing campaign or clever social media post — no matter how viral it goes.

Marketers have a hard time measuring content and social media efforts, but no one — not customers, employees or shareholders — will have a hard time measuring the value you add to their lives when you do good for the right reasons.

Doing good taps into some of the powerful psychological drivers of human behavior. As Jonathan Haidt points out in his book, “The Happiness Hypothesis,” we are driven by five core needs that affect happiness, two which are nurturing others and being part of a greater good. Brands that enable us to do this and provide quality products and experiences are those with the strongest sustainability for lasting loyalty, revenue and profitability.

Author: Jeanette McMurtry

Jeanette McMurtry is a psychology-based marketing expert providing strategy, campaign development, and sales and marketing training to brands in all industries on how to achieve psychological relevance for all aspects of a customer's experience. She is the author of the recently released edition of “Marketing for Dummies” (Fifth Edition, Wiley) and “Big Business Marketing for Small Business Budgets” (McGraw Hill). She is a popular and engaging keynote speaker and workshop instructor on marketing psychology worldwide. Her blog will share insights and tactics for engaging B2B and B2C purchasers' unconscious minds which drive 90 percent of our thoughts, attitudes and behavior, and provide actionable and affordable tips for upping sales and ROI through emotional selling propositions. Her blog will share insights and tactics for engaging consumers' unconscious minds, which drive 90 percent of our thoughts and purchasing attitudes and behavior. She'll explore how color, images and social influences like scarcity, peer pressure and even religion affect consumers' interest in engaging with your brand, your message and buying from you. Reach her at Jeanette@e4marketingco.com.

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