A better way to engage and grow customers

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We often hear talk about corporate social responsibility being the focus for large global organisations. At the same time, we also hear about consumers who prefer brands that share similar values. Businesses do social good because it's a magnet for attracting consumers. The more business does to cater to the needs of the community, the sticker the relationship becomes.

This is a good thing for brands searching for new ways to engage and grow their customer base but there's a hook. It's only true provided a business is meeting the customer's basic expectations in delivering a seamless user experience.

A brand can quickly become unstuck if they don't get the basics right first. With most business taking place online, the need for delivering easy-to-access products and services is paramount. Too many times the user experience falls short. When this happens, it doesn't matter how much a brand supports local community if the basics aren't being delivered.

The truth is, there's not many companies that can truly lay claim to demonstrating socially-minded activities within their business practises anyway.

There's actually a better way to do it.

Embrace the concept of creating shared value instead.

It was Michael Porter who first introduced the idea of 'creating shared value.' His idea of building shared value meant that businesses would address the social needs of the community but not at the cost of the business itself. In a case of win-win, this is also the genesis of corporate sponsorship.

Sponsorship is all about creating shared value.

The partnership should be one that is built on understanding the objectives of each party and working together to meet those objectives. Sponsorship-seekers should be asking potential sponsors a series of questions to understand their needs. Likewise, sponsors need to assess the opportunities presented by the rights-holder to know if this is a relationship that is going to work for them. The end goal should be one that is mutually beneficial so the relationship can grow year-on-year taking all the good things from the previous year and building on them.

"Companies need to be far-sighted enough that they make friends before they need them and to communicate in a language that exudes authenticity rather than propaganda," said John Browne, Connect.

Empty promises are just that and all the sprouting about being community-minded means nothing if customers aren't having their basic needs met. Creating opportunities to build shared value is a better long-term solution that bypasses all the risk of saying you're something when you're not.

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