Build a Purpose-Driven Brand: How to Integrate Volunteerism into Your Marketing Strategy

Build a Purpose-Driven Brand: How to Integrate Volunteerism into Your Marketing Strategy

As a business strategy and marketing consultant, I’ve always found the intricate interaction between organizational culture and strategy to be fascinating. Today, I’m excited to delve into a topic at the intersection of these domains: how businesses can authentically build purpose-driven brands by integrating volunteerism into their marketing strategy.

Volunteerism, often associated with acts of altruism and community service, is an unlikely candidate for inclusion in a company’s marketing efforts. However, the reality is quite different.

In today’s socially conscious landscape, consumers are increasingly drawn to brands that align with their values and contribute positively to society. Incorporating volunteerism into your marketing strategy enhances your brand’s image and deepens customer loyalty and engagement.

So, how can businesses effectively integrate volunteerism into their marketing strategy? Let’s explore some key considerations and strategies.

Authenticity Is Paramount

In an era characterized by skepticism and discerning consumers, any attempt to capitalize on volunteerism for purely self-serving purposes will likely backfire. Your company’s actions and messaging must underpin a genuine commitment to social responsibility. Authenticity breeds trust, and trust is the cornerstone of solid customer relationships.

One way to demonstrate authenticity is by aligning your volunteer efforts with your brand’s mission and values. Consider what causes resonate most deeply with your company’s ethos and how you can leverage your resources and expertise to make a meaningful impact. For example, a sustainable fashion brand might partner with environmental organizations to clean up local parks or beaches, aligning with its commitment to eco-conscious practices.

Transparency Is Essential

Be transparent about your motivations for volunteering and the tangible outcomes of your efforts. Share stories and testimonials that illustrate the real-world impact of your initiatives.

Transparency fosters accountability and strengthens your brand’s credibility.

Engage Your Employees

Another critical aspect of integrating volunteerism into your marketing strategy is employee engagement. Your employees are your most valuable asset; their enthusiasm and passion can be a powerful catalyst for change. Empower your employees to participate in volunteer activities that resonate with them by giving them time and space to do so and providing opportunities for them to contribute their skills and expertise to meaningful causes. Engaged employees are more productive and loyal and also serve as brand ambassadors, which amplifies your message both internally and externally.

Stay Tech Savvy

Consider the role of technology in facilitating volunteerism and amplifying its reach. Leverage social media, crowdfunding platforms, and volunteer management software to connect with volunteers, raise awareness about your initiatives, and mobilize support.

You can harness the power of storytelling through multimedia content—videos, photos, and blog posts—to showcase the impact of your volunteer efforts and inspire others to get involved.

Collaborate For Maximum Impact

By partnering with other businesses, nonprofit organizations, and community groups, you can amplify the impact of your volunteer initiatives and extend your reach. Collaboration fosters innovation and creativity while strengthening relationships with stakeholders to enhance your brand’s visibility and reputation.

By authentically aligning your volunteer efforts with your brand’s mission, engaging your employees, leveraging technology, and fostering collaboration, you can build a purpose-driven brand that resonates with consumers and leaves a lasting legacy of social impact.

Remember: the true measure of success lies not just in profits and market share but in the positive contribution you make to the lives of others and the world.

Q&A with Pamela Campagna, BLUE SAGE Consulting

Q&A with Pamela Campagna, BLUE SAGE Consulting

An Interview with Pamela Campagna | President, BLUE SAGE Consulting, Inc.

What do you most like about your job?

Because I work with many companies and organizations, I’m able to carry what I learn from one situation to another. The variety and the constant challenge of solving client problems are really intriguing. As a Certified Management Consultant (CMC®), I am bound by the requirements of a global organization to deliver quality results in an ethical manner.

Why does your work stand out from others that do what you do?

My clients can speak to that: “I had the pleasure of working with Pam at a few firms, one where I hired her as a consultant to help launch new marketing and sales initiatives under an extraordinarily tight timeline. Pam is a strategic thinker who cuts through the noise and identifies the high impact issues and opportunities. She maps out clear plans and then tirelessly executes. Pam just jumps in and does what it takes to achieve the desired targets and immediately earns the respect of the teams she works with. I would highly recommend Pam! “

What questions are you commonly asked, and how do you answer?

Many clients aren’t sure how to work with a consultant. One common question is: “I’m not sure where to get started.” Once the client begins to describe the issue in their business (and with my prodding and probing and discussion), I can get a general sense of where we need to start and how I can help them. Sometimes we “don’t know what we don’t know”. That’s where I come in!

If I were a client, what should I know about your business?

There’s no magic in consulting. Just like many other professions, there are methodologies and processes and best practices that can be followed. Being able to solve problems, think strategically and act with urgency to improve the client’s situation should be the most important role that a consultant can play. Consultants who are committed to the business of consulting and have a lot of successes under their belt can save companies a lot of time and money.

What is the most memorable client engagement that you’ve had?

Several years ago, I was contacted by a company that was looking for help to reorganize their sales organization. Once I started to ask what product they sold (and to whom), what the plans were for products and services in the future (they weren’t sure), how profitable each product was (less sure) and what the business strategy was for the company….we realized that what was missing was a strategy for the company and specific plans to implement it. The sales force wasn’t broken. The company’s strategy was. We started what turned out to be a 4-year engagement, by working on their strategy, then on their product line offerings and go-to-market plan. The engagement was especially worthwhile for the client as it moved their business into a direction much quicker than they had imagined.

Are most of your engagements that long and complex?

By its very nature, the work that I do involves many elements of the client’s business. Whether it’s creating a marketing strategy or developing a program for customer retention, the consulting work tends to be more complex. However, there have been many instances where the project was straightforward and the goals were clear so the work that we did was mostly to execute the project.

What are the most common types of work that you do for your clients?

Our clients in B2B, manufacturing, technology, healthcare, and non-profit organizations look to us for:

  • short-term help on a business issue
  • long-term advice on operational improvements
  • growth strategies for a lagging product line
  • skills development for teams and individuals
  • guidance on how to develop marketing initiatives
  • leadership for change and transformation initiatives
  • operating model and process improvement development
  • special, unstaffed projects

The projects and engagements span a wide range: we’ve gone to Capitol Hill with a client to support their lobbying efforts as part of their business development strategy. We’ve developed distribution plans and processes with Amazon for another client. We’ve worked with a large pharma to understand the impact of their investment in medical education. Dozens of engagements have included product launches, services implementation, press and analyst relationship development and staff development. And every single engagement is unique.

How do you stay up to date on tools and happenings in your industry?

In addition to my consulting practice, I am an Adjunct Professor at Boston College and a Professor of Practice at Hult International Business School where I teach Leadership, Strategy, and Marketing. The combination of in-the-field experience with my clients, and teaching and collaborating with students and faculty in higher education are a great source of information and inspiration. In addition, we invest our resources in continuing education and ongoing personal development.

Can you name a few trends that you think will have an impact on the consulting industry?

The landscape of the workplace is changing. The concept of a “job for life” doesn’t really exist anymore. The distinction between a contractor (someone who is between jobs or who is a person-for-hire) and a consultant (someone who follows a specific competency framework and builds a business) is confusing to companies that are looking to hire a competent supplement in their organization. Often, the alternative of a large agency or a big consulting firm is too cumbersome for companies that want to get a job done quickly without a lot of overhead.

The trend of “talented resources on demand” will continue and offers an opportunity for consultants like me and the BLUE SAGE team to provide value to clients who are looking for proven results from a team of experts who have years of experience in a number of businesses and challenging situations.

Does this mean that you work alone?

Actually, it really depends on the needs of the client and the requirement of the engagement. In some cases, I work alone on a particular project or as a retainer-based outsourced consultant. Other times, the project may require subject matter expertise or additional bandwidth to be completed. In that situation, I call on BLUE SAGE Associates with whom I’ve worked over the years. They work for the client as part of my team. In addition, I often work with internal teams in the client organization to get the job done.

What are some of the pitfalls of the business?

I’ve spent thousands of hours on 100s of projects helping my clients to navigate through change, build their strategy and run their businesses. I can typically get a sense of how the working relationship with the client will be, based on how discussions go as we figure out how to work together. I can also get a sense of how challenging an engagement will be based on early interactions with potential clients.

Sometimes, the early interactions are an indication that the working relationship is not a good fit. Take, for example, the company in New York that was looking for help to get their marketing activities and infrastructure in shape as they were preparing to seek another round of funding from an investor. I was introduced to the company through one of the key stakeholders and had several conversations and meetings with their leadership. After that first meeting, it became very clear that the President of the company didn’t understand how a “solid” company might run – as they themselves had very little business experience. That’s not unusual, and it allows a consultant to be a “teacher” as well as a consultant. It also became clear during that first meeting that the President was more comfortable doing the work that he had always done instead of taking on more of a leadership role. He spent his days writing copy for the website and code for the product instead of building a team to take that product to market and sell it.

I’m a firm believer in studying best practices and learning by them. I believe in having a sense of urgency and driving toward a goal in an organized fashion. In this case, indecision and “business as usual” were the way that this company runs, and they were not prepared to take action to change. So for them, the timing wasn’t right and it was clear to me that the client was not a good fit for BLUE SAGE as I could not serve them well. In this case, I respectfully pulled out of discussions and I continue to stay in touch with the stakeholder if I can help them in the future.

What is the best way to determine if working with a consultant is the right thing for a business leader?

I rarely come across a leader who thinks that they “need a consultant” in their business. Typically, there is a business need – a pain, a challenge, an opportunity – that needs some attention. Sometimes an objective perspective from an outside third party is what’s required. In any of these scenarios, a qualified consultant should be able to get a sense of the business need and outline areas that might be explored. There are different methodologies that we use depending on the nature of the business problem and the level of complexity. In some cases, it may be as simple as defining a plan and then moving to implement and manage the plan. Either way, the best way to understand whether or not a consultant is a good solution for a business leader is to start a conversation.


Common Mistakes in the Marketing-to-Sales Lead Process and How to Avoid Them

Common Mistakes in the Marketing-to-Sales Lead Process and How to Avoid Them

The marketing-to-sales lead process should be simple.

Marketing generates quality leads, sales happily accept them, deals close, the MQL to SQL (Sales Qualified Leads) conversion rate is almost 100%, and everything is terrific, right? WRONG!

If marketing holds onto every lead until they are sure it’s a lock-down SQL, bad things happen, like:

  • Losing your selling window. Remember, buyers are in control. They buy on their timeframe, not yours. Wait too long, and the buyer will be locked into another vendor or on to another project.
  • Losing out on promising leads. Qualifying leads isn’t an exact science.   Marketing can err on the conservative side – knowing that some good leads might not get to sales (what we in the marketing demand gen world call a “False Negative”), or marketing can be more aggressive knowing sales will get some “False Positives”.

For those not familiar with the term, a False Positive would be a lead that appears to be sales-ready by displaying buying behavior, such as watching demos, looking at pricing, or downloading RFP templates, but in fact, they are still just researching.

Most companies will accept “False Positives” to rapidly get sales leads, provided it doesn’t get out of hand.  I recently talked to one CEO who saw a 90% MQL rejection rate, meaning that only 1 out of 10 leads was sales-ready. Now, that’s out-of-hand, although it’s not uncommon.

So, what’s the right MQL to SQL conversion rate? Today’s best practices hover around 60%. Get close to this, and you should likely be feeling pretty good. But to get the full story, you need to be looking at a bunch of other metrics (metrics that a sound closed-loop marketing automation/CRM system should be able to cough up quickly), such as:

  • % of MQLs resolved – meaning the rep could reach the prospect and conduct a discovery call. Somehow, the best reps always seem to have the highest percentage, but there can be other reasons for varying rates. For example, my tele-qualifiers passed MQLs over at one point without setting appointments, as the reps wanted to own their calendars. With this process, we only got a 30% resolved rate and a 15% MQL conversion rate. Once the tele-qualifiers started to schedule meetings, the resolution and MQL conversion rates tripled.
  • % of MQLs disqualified with lousy info (bad contact info, the wrong role, not being employed at a company, the company not in the right region, size, etc.). This number should be low, but it is important to watch to ensure the demand generation process is aligned correctly. For example, perhaps a marketing list was created with companies that are too small or a tele-qualifier misunderstanding the qualification criteria.
  • % of MQLs returned to marketing for nurturing (right company type and role but doesn’t fully meet MQL definition). In other words, these are your “False Positives” and at some point, down the road, through nurturing efforts, they hopefully will be ready to buy.

These metrics can differ by marketing campaign, region, and sales rep, so understanding them helps both marketing and sales adjust behavior and improve conversion rates. What trends are you seeing in your company?

About the Author

Jeff Whitney is a B2B software marketing executive with extensive experience  –  from early-stage start-ups to achieving marketing equity.   Jeff has a passion for building a world-class marketing function, starting with the organization, demand generation programs, sales enablement tools, and aligning sales and marketing.

Spotlight on Sales and Marketing Alignment

Spotlight on Sales and Marketing Alignment

Successful sales and marketing alignment seldom happens by accident or because everyone wishes it. It requires true conscious competence and a commitment by all key parties.

Over several posts, I’ll share a demand generation alignment checklist that I’ve created and continually refined over the years. I’ll also highlight some common alignment obstacles I’ve faced far too many times.

By way of background, before finding my passion in marketing, I was a bag-carrying (and yes, above quota) sales rep. As a result, I started my marketing career confident I could avoid the seemly ubiquitous sales and marketing chasm.

Wow – how wrong I was.

Maybe I did better than other marketers without sales experience, but I fell into way too many chasms and each one hurt.
I realized that no matter how hard I worked, alignment wasn’t just on my shoulders. Just as a solid marriage requires the commitment of both parties and agreement on key aspects of the relationship, I realized I needed the commitment of all key parties involved in the revenue generation process, along with the list of crucial alignment items for us to work on.

The checklist below combines the key alignment issues with items that marketing or sales must do to prepare for the alignment.

  1. Get marketing ready by understanding the buyer persona, the buying cycle, and the competitive landscape.
  2. Create a Marketing Qualified LEAD (MQL) definition.
  3. Understand the MQL to sales opportunity metrics.
  4. Set MQL and Marketing-Generated Sales Opportunity goals and then communicate to the team.
  5. Create a closed-loop system for tracking leads from creation to win/loss. Create Sales SLAs (service level agreements) for handling MQLs.
  6. Establish consistent processes for creating a Sales Opportunity.
  7. Require quick, insightful feedback from sales on disqualified leads.
  8. Communicate and listen to sales.
  9. Help reps create their own MQLs.
  10. Find out why opportunities stalled or were lost.

In additional posts, I’ll expand on this checklist and share my sales enablement checklist too. What are your experiences with sales and marketing alignment? Do you have any items to add to this list?

About the author: Jeff Whitney is a B2B software marketing executive with extensive experience—from early-stage start-ups to achieving marketing equity. He has a passion for building a world-class marketing function, starting with the organization, demand generation programs, sales enablement tools, and, of course, aligning sales and marketing.