Making CSR pay…Values to Value…Stakeholder Marketing

Our friends at CSRDatanetworks are organising a great CSR conference for next February...which I believe offers a real s...

October 16, 2003

Our friends at CSRDatanetworks are organising a great CSR conference for next February…which I believe offers a real step forward for practical CSR implementation.

They want to move beyond ideology to the practical benefits of communication.

The fact is the purported return on investment of CSR depends entirely on stakeholders understanding and valuing its benefits…

Consumers must value more ethical products; suppliers must value better treatment; investors must value brand sustainability; partners must value better engagement; communities must value local investment.

We, as a society, must value more respectful, mutually sensitive relationships.

This is about placing a value on values. It’s about re-education of our basic norms, from rampant individualism, so a sense of collective duty.

CSR is about building relationships that sustain brands.

Organisations that wish to build CSR into the fabric of a business organisation therefore face a very simple challenge – to exceed stakeholders’ values expectations in dimensions that offer demonstrable mutual value.

Where values collude, value can be created – through the revenues and opportunities which flow from exceding motivational, behavioral and attitudinal expectations.

Where they collide, value will be destroyed – through the frictional costs and risks of weak trust, loss of belief and low commitment

CSR should concern itself with these exchanges of values – the processes of mutual learning which fits the organisation to its human context. It will come to nothing if the actions that expresses these values are not actually valued.

Often this value will come from revenues – charging a premium for peace of mind, or some higher order emotional benefit. But benefits of those deeper relationships will also come through more effective transactions – at lower environmental cost, lower time cost and lower financial cost.

Let’s be blunt here. If your staff are happy and fulfilled, you can pay them less – or certainly differently!

In a very real sense then, CSR is stakeholder marketing – susceptible to the same rigour, research and planning disciplines of any other marketing effort.

The essence of this Marketing is dialogue…making an offer, matching it to the needs of stakeholders, delivering – and then, most crucially, checking that you’ve delivered to reinforce and protect the value that has been created.

Just as organisations build maps of their customers value experience, so they should map their stakeholders values experiences. Just as they research customers to identify unmet value demands, so they should research stakeholders to identify unmet values-needs.

CSR is the attempt to build brand-consistent, mutually beneficial, values-based relationships for human beings – whichever stakeholder role they happen to be occupying at a particular moment in time.

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