When I see people share research data, it’s usually related to money or finding the best way to do something. Which makes sense because we all want to make more money and become better at what we do.
What online marketing tactics deliver the highest ROI? What types of content produce the highest engagement? What are the latest sales and revenue numbers in a particular industry? What kind of technology can help you reduce costs?
Of course, it would be a sin to miss the latest “best times to post on Facebook” article.
Then I came across a MediaPost article that laid out the key findings of a study from Havas Worldwide. The kind of study that people should be reading and rereading instead of ignoring.
As of this writing, the article has been shared 127 times. From my perspective as one of the little guys, I do cartwheels if my content is shared 127 times. But it’s a relatively modest number for a large publication.
The study is called “Project Superbrand: 10 Truths Reshaping the Corporate World” and focuses on key trends and consumer expectations that are changing how businesses approach marketing, branding and advertising strategies.
Why hasn’t this article gained much traction?
The study doesn’t deal with hard numbers that can be plugged into big data analytics tools. It doesn’t tell you where you should spend or stop spending your money. It doesn’t provide you with specific action items that you can take back to the office and begin using immediately.
But it’s really, really important stuff. Why?
The study tells us what people demand from companies beyond a good product or service.
More than three quarters of consumers say transparency is important.
Seven in 10 say businesses have an obligation to do more than make money.
Two thirds say businesses shoulder just as much responsibility for driving social change as governments.
83 percent want companies to improve the lives of their employees, and 73 percent say providing a healthy work-life balance is an obligation of all employers.
63 percent believe some large enterprises are more powerful than certain countries. This might explain why 72 percent of consumers say companies should fight injustice, and 80 percent say businesses should join forces with non-profit and non-government organizations on initiatives intended to make the world a better place.
The key takeaways here?
First, this kind of research should get our attention. As business owners and marketers, we need to get beyond superficial things like discounts, sales gimmicks, and bells and whistles and focus on the things that really matter to people.
Things that help to build lasting connections and loyalty with our customers.
Consider this research to be a valuable resource if you hate your website content and want to fix it.
Second, people want to do business with companies that do the right thing. Not just for their customers, but for their employees and society in general.
If you want to make more money, stop trying to sell stuff. Stop devaluing your products and services with discounts.
Start showing people how you can help them. Be honest, authentic and accountable for what you do and how you do it. Prove that your responsibilities extend beyond shareholders.
Guess what? If you do this, more people will want to buy your stuff.
You don’t have to turn your company into the Justice League or Greenpeace, but you do have to have a sense of purpose and give a crap.
None of this is rocket science. It doesn’t require us to partner with a major research firm. It doesn’t require us to store and process mountains of big data so we can convert it into business insight.
It just requires us to listen to what matters to people instead of assuming we know better.
Here are a few final nuggets from the Havas study:
56 percent of consumer are paying more attention to how the products they buy impact society and the environment. 31 percent don’t care as long as they get low prices. 27 percent don’t care about who makes a product and how a company treats its employees.
Notice the correlation between low pricing and not giving a crap?
If those are the people you want to dominate your customer base, continue catering to this small and shrinking segment of the population.
Otherwise, recognize the fact that more people are demanding social responsibility. It’s not a “nice to have.” Look for ways to meet this demand in your day-to-day operations and long-term strategic initiatives. Not just because customers demand it, but because it’s something you believe in.
After all, is it really that bad to do good?