Lately, I’ve been studying a lot of businesses and talking to people that are in the initial planning phase of their business. I’ve noticed something that is, in my opinion, a misguided focus. Consumers, especially millennials, are attracted to businesses that have a philanthropy focus to it, purchasing (or working for) a service/product that will give them this feeling that they are contributing to/working for a worthwhile cause.
It gives them a rosy feeling because the business will focus on something like “5% of all purchases are donated to the Humane Society”. That may sound great, but the problem (as I see it) is that if you want to create a business that will survive the test of time, the focus must be on something more realistic and practical… Such as… the superior quality of the product/service, the uniqueness of it, or a superior experience that the company offers compared to their competition. In my dealings recently with heading up marketing for Clark Brothers Realty, we found ourselves in a quandary over whether our “Freedom Gives Back” campaign should be the focus of our billboards and print pieces versus focusing on how we aim to offer an honorable and superior experience to our clients. In short, the latter won. Another example to strengthen my point: I was consulting on a project where the focus of the campaign was their referral program. They were offering to pay an exuberant referral amount to consumers who helped in the acquisition of new users on the app. However, they hadn’t focused on WHY people should USE the app; they only focused on the money you could potentially earn for referring the app. Yes, this created excitement, but not the needed “true users”.
I wholeheartedly encourage you to find a way to give back to the community through your passion for starting a business that will offer something unique. Communicate that reason, and believe it. However, for your business to survive and for you to achieve success, you can’t focus on philanthropy and bank on that being the linchpin that distinguishes you from the competition. This is just my two cents though, and I would love to hear your thoughts!
– Luke Clark