While traveling through Argentina on vacation, Blake Mycoskie, the famous entrepreneur and Amazing Race contestant, was inspired to start a new kind of business. He spent several days traveling around poor villages on the outskirts of Buenos Aires where he saw that people were in such poverty that they could not even afford shoes. More than that, he saw the blisters, sores and infections that were caused by the lack of proper footwear.
Having already started five businesses, Blake saw an opportunity to found a for-profit business that could provide shoes to impoverished people around the world. His plan was to donate a pair of shoes for every pair of shoes that was purchased. By 2013, Mycoskie’s business, called Shoes for a Better Tomorrow or TOMS for short, had given away over 10 million pairs of shoes. TOMS has also expanded to provide eye care and safe birth services. This would be a new kind of business enterprise: one that was focused as much on social impact as on profits.
Until recently, there was a sharp distinction between the goals of a business and those of a non-profit organization. Businesses were designed to realize profits for their owners and investors. Non-profits were meant to promote causes for the good of society. This distinction is rapidly disappearing as social businesses, like TOMS, seek to apply business principles to solving social problems.
Maybe you have an idea for a business that would have a social impact around the world or in your local community. If so, then you’ll want to imitate some of the tactics that contribute to TOMS’ success. One thing that TOMS does really well is content marketing. Here are some content marketing tips that you can use to get the word out about your business:
Build a Brand
You may see a problem that you want to solve, but the success of your social business depends on communicating your mission to other people. That means that you have to create a unique identity and story for your business. TOMS’ success is in part based on the clear story that they can tell about their mission. Every time someone buys a pair of shoes, one pair is donated to a person in need somewhere in the world. When people buy a pair of TOMS, they are doing more than making a shoe purchase – they are making a positive impact on the world.
You can do the same with your mission. Create a unique identity with an interesting visual look. But above all, make sure you tell a good story about the impact that you are going to make in the world. Then you can develop content that tells your story in a variety of ways.
Make Sure that Your Business Proposition Is Directly Related to Social Impact
There is a reason that TOMS can give away so much: it is written right into the way they do business. The famous “one for one” business model is designed to give away shoes and services to those in need. This giving is driven by the business success. Whenever someone makes a purchase, something is given away. It is sustainable because the social impact is at the heart of the business. This clarity of business mission makes for great opportunities in content marketing.
Your social business needs to be as clear about how its economic and mission aspects are connected. This will help you successfully drive business and social impact through great content marketing.
Utilize Multiple Platforms
Content marketing is about much more than your blog and website. It is about telling a compelling story across a variety of different mediums. Today there are multiple online platforms that you can use to spread your message, so don’t confine yourself to just one. Facebook and Twitter are great, but there are other ways to communicate your message. You want to experiment with visual mediums like videos and other multimedia tools in order to tell your story.
For example, TOMS has vibrant Instagram and Pinterest pages that not only showcase their shoes but also tell powerful visual stories about the adventures that people can have while wearing TOMS shoes and the people around the world that are helped by receiving shoes. TOMS effectively uses these platforms to communicate their brand identity and mission. TOMS also lauched a successful social media campaign with the hashtag #WithoutShoes. This viral movement of barefoot photos resulted in over 200,000 shoes given away in a few week period.
TOMS is a model for the kind of effective content marketing that can drive your social business.
For a social business to succeed, it really has to forge an emotion connection with its customers. These customers want to feel good about the impact they are having in the world. Good content marketing helps to create this emotional bond. By telling moving stories about the way the business is helping people and the problems that it solves, customers connect more deeply on an emotional level. This creates a loyal community around the social business.
It is hard not to be moved when reading the blog on the TOMS website. Whether it is about how people are receiving much-needed footwear, employees who love their job or the inspirations for the chic footwear, you can’t help but feel something in heart about this company.
By telling a clear mission-oriented story across multiple platforms that connects emotionally with your audience, you can use content marketing to help your social business succeed.