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We’re all familiar with companies like Warby Parker and TOMS, and their buy one/donate one to charity model. But how does having a social mission really benefit your for-profit business? Is it something you should consider before starting up? Is it really that important? As , New York Times best-selling author and TED speaker would tell you, “Yes!”
Of course, he wants to tell you a lot more than that. So we sat down to get the inside scoop on some of the advice in his upcoming course, . He’s all about working with entrepreneurs that want to make an impact with their social mission, and helping them make that impact by giving them insights about their customers’ behavior.
So we asked him:
What are some not-so-obvious ways that having a social mission can help your business?
“Motivation – across the organization,” was his first answer. Your business has a mission, but your employees may not think about it. If you have a social mission, your employees are more likely to care and to be motivated to do well.
His second answer was that people are typically happy to help you. Not just your employees, but people who are interested in your cause are going to want to help – be it volunteering to spend time, money, or resources – you reach your goal.
Lemonade, one of the companies that he’s involved with, is an example of this. “From the moment we said we wanted to create an insurance company with no conflicts of interest, and as a for-good company, I can’t tell you the amount of emails I got from people who wanted to help, participate, join – it was amazing.”
Finally, he said, is the long-term orientation. “If you have a business that is tied to the bottom line, it is very hard to do things that take a long time to pay off.” With Lemonade, they were suddenly able to think long-term and try out bold strategies.
How much do you think this social factor impacts the success of a company like TOMS?
“There are two things they are selling with their business: the buy one/donate one to charity is the first piece, and the image is the other piece.” They found an excellent combination of customers signaling to others that they are “of the donation type” with the product, as well as feeling good about themselves for donating. That is what TOMS is selling, and that’s why they are so successful – and of course, having the distinctive shoe that everyone recognizes is a major part of that.
Do you think focusing on social impact is necessary, even doing things that don’t necessarily relate to their mission?
His answer, surprisingly, was “No!”
Well, sort of.
Companies like Facebook and Google that are doing things to give back that aren’t related to their mission are nice, but ineffective and not getting much in return, he explained. Having a social mission is important, but having a non-relevant social mission is not a good way to go about it.
If you want to focus on social responsibility, do something that your employees will care about, your customers will care about, and is core to your mission. That’s how you can make an impact on your community in an effective way.
Finally, what inspired you to do an online course? And what is it about?
“Online courses are a great way to expand reach and try something new; so why not,” he said.
Ariely also is passionate about teaching and loves to share his knowledge in new ways. Plus, he has a soft spot for social entrepreneurs: “These are people who want to change all kinds of things in the world, so the idea that we could give them some tools to make their jobs a little easier is incredibly exciting.”
The aims to do just that, by helping social entrepreneurs combine their awesome ideas with knowledge about behavioral economics and the psychology of their customers. By taking the course, you’ll learn crucial and relevant information, like:
Why information is not the only thing your customers need to change
Strategies to influence your customers to change
Where to begin in analyzing your customers’ behavior
And so, so much more!
Interested in learning more from Dan? Want to revitalize your business, and make a social impact by learning about behavior change? Check out his course here:
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