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Social Enterprise Marketing Strategy

Social Enterprise Marketing Strategy from The Startup Garage

A social enterprise faces a challenge when it comes to marketing.  As a social entrepreneur is seeking to meet a demand or need in the market that is currently unmet, the availability of data is scarce.  Unlike a for profit organization, a social enterprise is often entering a hybrid market that is un-established and cannot be researched and quantified quite the way a traditional for profit market can.  Thus, there is less of a need to invest the resources necessary to conduct extensive market research that a traditional commercial entrepreneur faces.

Additionally, a social enterprise actually benefits from having competitors in their market space, as the ultimate goal of a social enterprise is to serve a need in the target market.  Unfortunately, that target market is often very specific and it can be difficult to broaden the target market without straying from the mission.  As mentioned in a previous blog post, the target markets can range from those who are willing to pay a premium for a socially responsible product (such as TOMS Shoes) or those who are receiving a product at a reduced cost (such as Grameen Bank).  Wherever the target market may lay, it is important for the social entrepreneur to consider how the size of their market affects their overall business strategy.

If a social enterprise emphasizes sustainability in their supply chain, such as Guayakí, they face a greater degree of uncertainty and lack some of the legitimacy enjoyed by a standard commercial enterprise.  Often a company must pay a premium to incentivize their supply chain towards sustainability and then turn the price premium on the product into a compelling story for the end consumer.  Often a company will seek certification, such as the Fair Trade Certified label in the food and beverage industry, to add value to their product and communicate that value to the end consumer.

A social enterprise should anticipate utilizing social media to the full extent possible in order to spread the message of the organization’s mission.  Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn are all wonderful ways to communicate with your entire audience of stakeholders.

The following Marketing Plan is borrowed from Social Enterprise London:

  • Strategy:  The vision and purpose of the organization will provide the long-term strategic direction of the marketing plan. As a social enterprise, one of your core values will be to reinvest profits into your stated cause or community..
  • Communications Objectives:  SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-bound) objectives for marketing should lead the action planning. Communications objectives work to manage the buying cycle, abbreviated as AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action), and different media are used throughout the buying cycle to stimulate demand. In addition, objectives should consider company image and branding.
  • Communications Tactics:  Depending on the stage of the product in the product life cycle, the campaign objectives, the customer profile and the market positioning determines which media are used. A campaign integrating multiple media avenues is strongest, and ensures that the marketing messages are reinforced.
  • Action Planning and Implementation:  Resources, budgets and time frames are confirmed, and test marketing may be undertaken.
  • Evaluation and Control:  Controls are essential in measuring the results of the campaign compared to expectations. This will also help with planning further marketing campaigns.

Check out Social Enterprise London’s entire handbook on marketing your social enterprise.


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