by Turian da Silva Bielschowsky, founder and managing director of Magma Translation
In this 21st century, having a respectable image seems to matter a lot. After all, there is always a company to pollute a lake and kill all its fish, and another to earn tons of money by committing insurance fraud. To sum up: there are many bad guys around.
And the weirdest, most annoying detail about it is, most times, we let them be. Because it’s “normal”. It’s “progress”.
Can we change their minds? Probably not.
What we can do is use this opportunity to be the good guys, to be helpful: a friendly face among the crowd of strangers.
After all, would you buy animal-tested products? Or would you rather start a social action to stop it from happening?
Would you prefer to be seen as a partner of a colossal, uncaring company? Or would you rather be remembered by having an eco-friendly business?
First things first.
If you have stuck with me this far, you are probably looking to either (or both) make a difference or market your brand.
So, here goes my first advice: before starting a social action, you must know the big no-nos, which are:
#1 – Do NOT buy or sell non-green (or, as mentioned, animal-tested) products. In fact, over 1 billion consumers refuse to buy such items. Point? Be a sustainable company.
#2 – Do NOT be rude to every caller you get that doesn’t agree to your price and then, next week, appear on the newspaper as a caring individual/enterprise. Having a friendly costumer support is not that hard, people.
#3 – Do NOT support or advertise, or even mention (unless negatively) other companies that don’t fit in the criteria above: birds of a feather flock together.
#4 – Do NOT rely solely on your social action. You have to market your brand in other ways, and your company’s name must be somewhat known in its city. No one is going to believe your social action if you’re invisible. Think about it: how often does an upstart, with (probably) no money and barely anything to gain, starts doing charity work?
#5 – Do NOT get out of your niche. Sure, it would still generate a good impression if the CEO of a large company helped paint a new local nursing home, but you want to prove YOUR BRAND is the best in business, and not that you are the best painter.
A strong example of that is a translation company in Brazil that started providing free website translation for NGOs looking for international support. While they are not directly rescuing stray kittens and fundraising to pay for someone else’s surgery, they are helping organizations of the tertiary sector (that do those things and survive through donations, mostly) get attention. This generates a mighty buzz about their company, besides providing some quality backlinks that improve their SEO.
#6 – Do NOT be picky! Of course you can draw some boundaries. You may decide to help only schools, or NGOs, or animals, and so on. It’s all right! But if two entities (NGOs, for instance) fit the criteria you set up, there is no helping one and leaving the other one alone. What does that say about you and your company?
#7- Do NOT do something short-term. Just one-time donating resources to a nursery, or starting a social action with an expiry date, might lure a client or two. But you tell me right now if the examples above pass any credibility? It just sounds as if it is a pure-marketing tactic! Besides, a whole campaign generates way, WAY more hustle and excitement.
“Okay, got it. Now, what?”
If you have read and agreed to the items above, you are quite suitable to start a successful social action that will help you market your brand!
Now, we get to business.
How to do it.
#1- Decide the nature of your social action: which of your services are you going to offer, and to whom?
#2 – Think about the details and set limits:
- Will you just deploy Roy and Megan (the interns) to do it, or hire someone new? Or even do it yourself?
- If it involves more than one person (highly likely), who will do what?
- Is there going to be a Q.A.?
- How much are you going to do? For instance, if you are going to donate resources, how much are you willing to donate for a single institution? If you are dealing with writing-related services, what is the word limit each one gets?
- How are you going to spread the word? Are you willing to pay for advertisement?
#3 – Brace yourself: you have to prepare for what is coming. It is highly recommendable that you create a page for the social action on your website, with some description and an application form.
Try to advertise that page (announce it on social outlets, such as Facebook and Twitter) and get some traffic to it.
#4- Start it: Assuming you didn’t pay Google or Facebook for advertisement (I wouldn’t, not cold turkey like that), outreach may be necessary.
Use Google to make lists of whom you are (possibly) going to benefit. Note: this may not be necessary if you start your social action in your hometown, as you may have a few names in mind.
Afterwards, contact everyone on that list and let them know about your will to do a good deed. I recommend using a script, either by copying and pasting from a Word file or with a e-marketing tool. Otherwise, it will be hard (and dull).
It should be something like:
Hey there, dear [their name] or [friends from (their entity’s name]. How are you?
My name is [your name] and I am [your position and company].
Recently, we have decided to start a social action that may benefit you: [explain your social action in detail, because people have more to do than ask you questions; you can also create a Word or PDF file to make this easier]. And it is totally free of charge!
We only ask you, if it’s not a bother, to spread the word around a bit, so that we can keep on helping people! [If you are interested in boosting your SEO, you may also ask for a backlink in return]
What do you say? Are you interested?
If so, all you have to do is [contact me / describe what they have to do, such as send you a file with contact information].
Also, feel free to contact me, in case you have any doubt.
I will be waiting.
[maybe add a logo here to look more businesslike]
Send this to those you want to benefit and wait.
Do not be surprised with how long, though; while people love these kinds of initiative and will want in, they seem to take some time before contacting you or sending what has been requested.
Now, you will start helping people, one-by-one. And that is pretty much the (beginning of the) process.
Tricks of the trade.
I’m not going to leave you high and dry like that. I still have some more advice to offer, especially on what follows the initial shock.
#1 – Start off slow, without any sort of paid ads. You will need some time for the trial-and-error game. In other words, don’t grab the megaphone if you’re not ready for the highlights.
Perfect your action (form of outreach, performance, deadlines, etc.) with your first beneficiaries. Otherwise, you may find yourself receiving tons of requests for something you can’t fulfill. Ask me what people will say about your company then.
#2 – As your social action expands, you will notice some things.
Firstly, there will be an increase in the income of forms filled and e-mails sent and received.
Secondly, as you reach out to new prospects, you will hear things like: “Oh, yeah, I’ve heard about that (initiative)” and “My friend told me about you. She is very pleased with the service you provided!”
Thirdly, there might be even some new clients who, when they first step foot in your building, don’t seem as skittish as they normally come. That is because your company has a trustworthy name. Guess why?
That is about time you opt for serious advertisement, which can mean “paid”, but doesn’t have to.
If they are satisfied with your social action and services, there is a solid chance your beneficiaries will help you. Sometimes, voluntarily!
It’s very likely that one or two of them have big websites and newsletters, both of which may reach thousands of people. All you have to do is ask!
Don’t believe me?
Check out what ABCR (a Brazilian NGO) and Catraca Livre (a famous news outlet) did for Magma Translation.
#3- Keep it going!
As you will see, the word about your good deeds will spread like wildfire, and many more requests will find their ways into your e-mail.
Granted, you may have to deploy more employees to this task. Or, if you are lucky (and depending on the nature of your social action), you may receive e-mails from volunteers. After all, there are still people out there who want to help and change the world!
From whispers to volunteers, your brand will become very well-known, especially in its city.
Besides, if your social action is able to grow beyond it and you put some solid efforts into SEO optimization of the landing page, besides downright marketing and e-marketing, you may end up receiving requests from cities you’ve never even heard of!
Further down the path, you may actually consider hiring a translation company, translating the action’s page and expanding it overseas!
It depends on you and how much you want to be the good guy. That, my friends, is what it is all about.
Turian da Silva Bielschowsky is the founder and managing director of Magma Translation, a leading translation, website localization, and Internet marketing provider. He is also a person with social consciousness that supports NGOs, such as Rede Postinho and many others around the globe.