Economic times, the new global economy and forgotten corporate social responsibility… where are we now? What’s the ROI?
From the promotional perspective this is definitely an interesting question. There is no doubt that from a customer’s perspective, there is a definite goodwill for a business with socially responsible practices. Yet on the business end, a simple analysis looking for the ROI in such practices will often come up short. The cost of responsibility can be substantial and there is no proven price equation to make up for it. But ultimately, you will see an impact; the triple bottom line: People, Planet and Profit. Real commitment to the CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) philosophy will generate and enhance brand value by fortifying belief in your company’s commitment to good stewardship.
However, a mistake you must avoid is failure to apply this philosophy throughout the various departments of your organization. An example of this pitfall would be XYZ Corporation, which was doing an excellent job with socially responsible practices and was thoroughly enjoying the benefits. Brand value was held high in the minds of both customers and employees. Though unfortunately, XYZ then began to wander. Putting together the introduction of the newest product, marketing managers carefully selected promotional items and began searching for the lowest price. Local distributors were considered as well as questionable sources located via internet search; which ultimately led to a colossal mistake. Price being the only driving factor, an irresponsible overseas source was chosen. Non-compliant products were purchased and distributed as a result, and just as sales started to take hold from the successful launch, XYZ received complaints from watch-dog groups which were followed by an investigation by both the local media and the state’s Attorney General. Eventually, promotional items were recalled, XYZ received a stiff warning from the Attorney General, corporate attorneys ran up a large bill, and the public relations department was forced into damage control mode. Needless to say, brand value declined rapidly and XYZ faced a long climb back into public favor. This all was an easy mistake for the well-meaning XYZ Corporation to fall into.
Carefully selecting your promotional products vendor is as important as selecting the items. With the internet; finding a direct vendor has become very easy and overseas vendors are finding this as an easy channel to reach potential customers. A great promotional products distributor adds value by being both an information resource and marketing partner. Your distributor should be up on the latest legislation and should be using sources that can provide third party certification and testing results. Ask your distributors about the certifications and current laws as you make your purchasing decision. The right vendor/distributor might not be the lowest price but will be competitive. It is worth the small additional cost to protect your brand image.