My border collie knows how to push my buttons. Whenever I reach for my runners, she waits by the door in the hope that I need a companion for my travels. But she really comes into her own at dinner time. She knows she’s not supposed to scrounge at the dinner table. So she waits until we’re all seated, creeps underneath and puts her nose between my knees. When I look down from my plate, I can see a wet nose and big brown pleading eyes. ‘Give me food human, I’m starving; I haven’t eaten for at least 6 minutes. In return you will have my undying love and loyalty.’
Approaching a corporate partner doesn’t require you to sit up and beg, but you will need to approach their hotspots with empathy, understanding and a willingness to help. Understanding their pain points, priority issues and ambitions is a great place to start a conversation about partnerships. You’ll get an easier yes if you can hit their hotspots, but first you need to unpack what they are.
We see some common themes with our corporate clients, so here are a few to get you on the right track.
The burden of expectation
In the latest Edelman trust research business is seen as more competent than any other institution. Respondents across the world rate business a whopping 38 points more competent than government. Not only are stakeholders expecting a business to turn a reliable profit, they’re also expected to take the lead on some of society’s thorniest issues, like climate change, gender equity, homelessness and poverty. Stakeholders are holding businesses accountable for their social impact and punishing them for their failures; and with social media those failures are instantly visible. Melbourne University lost the support of a valuable donor after it gave honorary doctorates to only white male recipients for three years in a row. McDonald’s and Coca-Cola came under intense pressure to suspend operations in Russia after being slow to take action on the Ukraine invasion.
Socially conscious consumers
How many of you have made a purchasing decision based on your values and what the company is doing? I’ve been buying toilet paper from Who Gives a Crap for years, due to their support for hygiene and sanitation projects. Consumers are pushing for ethical products, clean supply chains and environmentally friendly products. They’re looking for genuine commitment, not brand washing. 90% of Millennials will buy from a brand if they believe their social and environmental claims. 1 in 3 consumers will punish a brand if they view them as doing the wrong thing. That’s why Country Road have partnered with Landcare to improve biodiversity and a more sustainable approach to growing cotton. How can you help a corporate partner engage authentically with consumers to have a meaningful social impact?
Social purpose and procurement
There is a shift beyond CSR towards social purpose. That means embedding social good into the fabric of the business, rather than tacking on some philanthropy and buying PR. Airbnb stepped up to use its network to help house 100,000 refugees fleeing Ukraine. It make good use of its business strengths and core competencies to create meaningful impact. Government legislation is accelerating this trend. VIC and NSW are leading on rules that compel anyone who wants government contracts to met social procurement and other hurdles. That includes gender equity, diversity and inclusion and sustainability. Corporates need your help to meet these social purpose criteria, or risk losing lucrative contracts.
The war for talent
Research tells us that 40% of people worldwide are planning to leave their jobs in the next 6 months. Economic shifts, COVID and border closures have created a perfect storm for employers with a shortage of talent and an increasingly demanding workforce. By 2025 almost 75% of the workforce will be Millennials; the same cohort that are socially conscious and want to work for a corporate that aligns with their personal values. The cost of attrition can be up to 200% of a person’s salary, so it’s a major pain point for all businesses right now. What solutions can you offer to help improve employee engagement and retention? Volunteering opportunities are great, but you’ll need to bring all of your expertise to the party if you’re going to give staff a meaningful experience.
There are plenty of things keeping corporate CEOs awake at night. It’s like being a teacher at the front of the class, with an audience that watches their every move and expects them to know everything. It’s an uncomfortable place to be. That’s why the time is ripe for partnerships, and all of the goodwill, expertise and social impact your organisation can offer. Hit the key hotspots and you’ll have the foundations for a really valuable partnership.
Click here to view the recording of our webinar on hitting a corporate partner’s hotspots