A-B-C of social enterprise marketing

Social enterprises play a unique role in society – and so social enterprise marketing needs to be equally bespoke. At Campaign Collective, we tailor each project to its particular needs. 

At its heart, we believe social enterprises should embody people powered communications to highlight their difference. People powered communications put people at the heart of what is communicated and how it is communicated. 

Here we give you our principles for marketing a social enterprise. Social enterprise is a broad term that includes a whole variety of organisations, from charities, charitable trading arms, Community Interest Companies, co-operatives, limited and even listed companies. 

Almost all social enterprises have people or benefits for people at their heart. But the ways that happen are as varied as the number of social enterprises in the sector (over 100k+ ways as of 2019).

In variety lies the strength of the sector, but trying to find a common marketing philosophy is challenging. 

Campaign Collective members have arrived at three broad principles for social enterprise marketing. These emerged from a #CommsChat on Social Enterprise Marketing a while ago, then we all worked to refine them. Underpinning our interpretation is the belief in the importance of putting people front and centre of all the communications.

We like to call these an ABC for social enterprise marketing:

  • Agitate for change
  • Build sales
  • Communicate value

Here’s a little more about each of the three principles of social enterprise marketing:

  1. Agitating for change is one of the definitions of Social Entrepreneurship. Having a cause or issue that you see as needing change, and using the tools of capitalism to try to change that issue through a product or service is an important part of the sector.
  2. Building Sales, for most brands and businesses, the success of communication activity is ultimately measured in sales; the activity put in place needs to communicate the benefits of the goods or services on offer.
    While this is still part and parcel of what social enterprises have to communicate, organisations that place delivering a benefit to society at the heart of what they do will ultimately need to reflect more than just sales targets in their communications.
  3. Communicating value, across the product or service offering and the domain for change is the third principle. This double value, double benefit, is unique to Social Enterprises and is what makes our work so challenging and so rewarding.  It’s also what inspired us to start Campaign Collective in the first place. 

The ideal communications strategy will deliver against all three of these objectives using people centric stories and messages. Campaign Collective Members can help social enterprises do this, often for a lot less than other agencies as we are a social enterprise oursleves.