How many people running social enterprises can really say that we understand our customers’ motivations?
An interesting question and one that I suspect we don’t think about often enough.
Are our products and services really addressing the needs and challenges faced by our customers, or do they just build on the strengths of our own businesses?
In the social enterprise world there seems to be a universal agreement that if we shout loudly enough about social enterprise we will raise awareness of our business model and more people will automatically buy from us.
Is there a direct correlation between awareness-raising and buying behaviour? Experience from the labelling world might suggest that this direct correlation is not true. In the case of Fairtrade, awareness is now extremely high within the general public, but it appears that sales have levelled off over the last few years.
Awareness-raising to a wide audience is, of course, very resource intensive and perhaps we should be learning from the paradigm shifts in the marketing world? The increase in the level of ‘noise’ from social media, multi-TV channels and mobile internet means that we need to be much more targeted in our approach. It is only by transposing ourselves into the position of current and future customers that we will really begin to understand where we can put our efforts to greatest effect.
This challenge is that much greater for us at the Social Enterprise Mark Company given the diversity of motivations that certified social enterprises (i.e. Mark holders) have for holding the Mark, in addition to the diversity of the customer base of these social enterprises, themselves. This has been a lesson from 50in250 and by attempting to bottom some of this out, we can better target our messages and services in our future campaigns and services.