Is CSR Relevant for B2B?

Is CSR Relevant for B2B?

“Lovely,” you think. “My business is already up to its ears in jargon and acronyms, and you want to add more to the mix?” If you haven’t already encountered CSR, however, it’s high time to get acquainted; this simple principle is driving purchasing decisions and impacting businesses in ways that might surprise you. That, in turn, impacts B2B marketing for industrial manufacturing and construction, public relations, social media marketing, and practically everything else it touches.

What is CSR?

CSR stands for corporate social responsibility. It can also be viewed as corporate citizenship since it reframes the old, Morton Friedman-derived way of looking at business (a business’s sole responsibility is to its shareholders, prioritizing profit first, last, and always) in a way that accounts for a business’s economic, social, and environmental impact on surrounding communities.

Does CSR Matter for B2Bs?

It’s easy to see how CSR would have an outsized impact in the B2C space. But how does it impact B2B, especially manufacturers farther back in the supply chain? Research has shown that customer attitudes and buyer behavior are shifting.

Why B2Bs Benefit From CSR

Similar to DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) initiatives, consumers are keeping an eagle eye on companies’ public stances and actions as they relate to areas as diverse as ethics, the environment, economic equity, racial justice, gender parity, and sustainability.

This can take any number of forms, from reducing emissions and relying on renewables to increasing volunteerism and philanthropy or taking concrete steps to make your hires more reflective of the community at large.

Whether this poses a challenge or an opportunity depends on your degree of preparedness; let’s look at how you can benefit.

CSR Attracts and Retains Talent

It’s not just consumers who value companies on a mission. Employees value companies that value them. Individuals with a sense of purpose are drawn to purpose-driven companies like moths to a flame, so your content marketing should communicate how you value and reward your employees’ work and support the communities in which they live makes you more attractive to top talent.

CSR Comforts Investors

CSR doesn’t just add value to your bottom line. Having a solid and demonstrable track record of corporate social responsibility helps to make your brand and your bottom line more attractive since there’s a perception that your company is a safer investment.

CSR Reinforces Positive Brand Perception

Brand awareness is key to getting the kind of exposure that generates new leads and business. How you approach your community outreach and charitable giving (among other facets of CSR) may depend on the customers you serve, where they are located, and who they serve. Be sure to keep those efforts visible, leveraging your marketing channels and earned media to keep your brand (and the causes you support) top-of-mind.

Implementing Effective CSR Initiatives

If you’re looking to make CSR part of your business, there are a few things to take into consideration.

  • Motivation: Understand why you’re doing this, and don’t be afraid to be brutally honest. It’s not enough to simply check a box or insert a few lines of copy on your About Us page; effective CSR also involves looking deeply at your own business’s past conduct or how it may have benefited from customs or practices that caused harm, then seeking to redress that.
  • Alignment: Mine your marketing automation and CRM tools for insight into your customer base but take it a step further to examine the impact of your customers upon their communities. Bring other stakeholders (investors and community members) to the table, too; those discussions can be lively, but also illuminating and productive.
  • Accountability: Set goals that have demonstrable and measurable outcomes.
  • Action: Take meaningful actions that turn motivation into results for your business, your clients, and your community. As you do, measure them against the metrics you set earlier and keep lines of communication open between your stakeholders to see what’s working and what may need to be revisited.
  • Consistency: Ensure that your CSR efforts are implemented in all that you do, across all platforms and interactions, from your customer experience to your marketing efforts.
  • Communication: Take time to set expectations for employees and customers alike and ensure that those expectations (and your other efforts) are communicated across all your touchpoints and channels, including your website design, social media marketing, email, and especially your public relations strategies.

Public Relations in Rockford, IL

Let’s make explicit what, up to now, has mostly been implicit: a CSR strategy that isn’t meaningful to your business, those you serve, and those they serve isn’t worth doing. More information is available now than ever before, and consumers aren’t just savvier; they’re more interconnected. If there is even the faintest whiff of insincerity, your best efforts may come across as cynical (or worse).

Whether your brand has long-standing bona fides in corporate social responsibility, you’re taking your first tentative steps, or you’re still wondering what the fuss is about, contact Cain & Company. We can help ensure that your values, your marketing, and your client base are all aligned and effectively messaged. That way, your business, your product, and the communities you serve each benefit.


Robin Chandler

Robin Chandler

Marketing Coordinator & Copywriter
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Rockford, IL 61107
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