Tuesday, April 7, 2009

What is "Social Issues Marketing"?

Here at Acart, we thought long and hard about what we're really all about.

For decades, we've been doing "pure" social marketing for the Canadian Federal Government and NGOs, corporate social responsibility for various private and association clients, cause marketing for charities, and supporting a mixed bag of sports, consumer and technology clients. That's quite a big tent for a corporate brand to live in.

At the same time, we were facing increasing dilution of the "social marketing" category by agencies who broadened the definition to include anything with a cause attached to it, whether it was selling an attitude, a brand, or even a product.

So we did what any good marketer would do — we invented our own category:

"Acart is a social issues marketing specialist. We inspire people to think more deeply about issues that affect their lives and society. We deliver useful information to decision makers, influencers and the general public with passion, creativity and honesty. We build trust and belief in our clients as agents of change who help people make informed choices to improve quality of life."
Basically, what almost every one of our clients has in common is an issue. They may be trying to increase awareness or action on a social issue close to their hearts, to align their brand or offering with an issue important to their target market, or simply embrace the issue that has been driving them all along.

We defined our“issues” of expertise as follows:

• Energy
• Environment
• Health
• Safety & Security
• Education
• Transportation
• Community
• Econonomic Development

These issues fit neatly into the areas of most concern to our clients’ target markets. At the same time, they allowed us to find unity in our work with clients as diverse as Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (clean-air energy), the Canadian Urban Transit Association (sustainable transportation) and the Ottawa Senators Hockey Club (building a community of fans).

This “issues” approach also allowed us to focus its business development efforts by identifying areas of expertise that could be transferred easily from the public to the private sectors. For example, Acart’s work with Transport Canada on distracted driving informed our later work with the Canadian Automobile Association on the same issue, which led to work with the Traffic Injury Research Foundation, and will hopefully have value to corporate clients (such as cell phone and car manufacturers) interested in taking a stand on the issue.

Once you begin thinking this way, almost any client can be approached based on the issue that’s most relevant to their relationship with their target markets. A food company can benefit from our extensive government work on food safety; an appliance manufacturer can identify and promote energy conservation, etc.

Plus, we get to be the world's leading expert in Social Issues Marketing :)

What do you think of this positioning?

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