So you’ve decided to kick off a Social Enterprise? That’s awesome! We certainly need more people who can see the benefit in doing something that not only helps themselves but others too.
But is this always the case? I can tell already that you think I’m heading down the road of pointing out some mismanagement of these sorts of concepts or some dodgy deal which discredits the industry…but you’ve got me wrong.
My concern is much greater than that. It’s the fact that I see many Social Enterprises only doing half the job.
While they’re brilliant at helping others, when it comes to looking after themselves, they don’t seem to apply the same generosity. Now I’m not talking about financial reward. But I am talking about sustainability and developing a strong, robust business that will stand the test of time.
In so many cases, a good idea and all the best of intensions is let down by the fact the Enterprise is not run like a business. Financial viabilities, processes, practises and, my favourite, marketing.
Now while I’ve been in business for a few years now and know a thing or two about how to develop and sustain a successful business, I want to talk about the marketing – as this is obviously my passion (not just my business).
Marketing is often seen as a necessary evil at the best of time. But more so in many Social Enterprises when setup as Not-for-Profit organisations. While many acknowledge the importance, seldom is it given the focus it requires to help leverage what the organisation is trying to achieve.
It’s important to point out that when I say ‘marketing’, I’m talking about the discipline. This isn’t about advertising. Nor is it about the logo. It’s about the entire projection of the business. We talk about this in terms of the narrative and the Brand Story. This goes from the tone of voice to the positioning and everything else in between. It’s so much more than people think.
The sad part is that most Social Enterprises have magnificent, authentic and honest Brand Stories. Unlike highly commercial businesses which often have to work hard at developing a Brand Story, Social Enterprise have this at the very heart of what they were created to achieve.
So why do people find it so hard to articulate this story?
At the end of the day, it’s not actually that easy for most people to communicate their story effectively. They need a story teller. Someone who understands the narrative of their journey and has all the tools and skills to craft a story which engages and enlightens the audience.
This is the sort of work that we relish in. It’s what we spend our lives doing and it’s something we love.
So while most Social Enterprises have their hearts in the right place, sometimes a trip to a specialist to make sure that pulse is beating in the right rhythm with their audience.