Social value, sustainability, and social impact: These are three of the most important words for B2G (business-to-government) buyers, suppliers, and marketers to know. They are becoming increasingly important as countries around the world realise that they need the backing of businesses if they want to achieve their climate change goals.
We’re going to look at each one separately to get a better understanding of what they mean to local communities and how social impact marketing can promote your brand to get the attention of public-sector procurement buyers.
Unlike previous versions in which social value was kind-of-but-not-really all that important, the new Procurement Act has made social value mandatory in public sector contracts. It has a 10% weighting in contract assessment and evaluation and it covers environmental, social, and economic initiatives.
Social value initiatives must have a tangible positive impact on the surrounding community. This could be addressing social challenges like increasing employment by hiring locals. The aim is to benefit the collective community and not a select few.
The government has also prioritised lower-value contracts to encourage SMEs to participate in public sector tendering. They are usually well-placed to understand the community’s needs and can create positive change more quickly than some larger enterprises.
Furthermore, with more SMEs competing in the B2G market, the number of social value projects will likely increase. It benefits the central government by bringing it closer to its climate change goals, and a healthier planet.
Social Value Benefits
Social value has benefits that don’t automatically spring to mind. We’re going to peek at a range of benefits for suppliers.
(Note: The first two benefits are bound together in an ongoing cycle, which could be positive and/or negative. Most other benefits branch out from the first two.)
1) Brand Reputation
Public sector buyers like socially responsible organisations because they make them look good. So, the more effort you put into developing social value that makes a positive difference, the more likely you are to attract contracting authorities’ attention and increase your chances of winning tenders.
2) Brand awareness
News travels fast. If you have a growing reputation for impactful social value projects, people will talk about you in meetings, on social media, and to colleagues and friends. They’ll talk to more people, who’ll talk to more people. The more often your brand is mentioned in public for its positive social projects, the more buyers pay attention. This increases your chances of winning tenders.
3) Employee retention
Employees who contribute to projects that generate authentic social change tend to stick around out of pride and loyalty. Employees who couldn’t physically contribute but cheered behind the lines also tend to stick around out of pride and loyalty. When employees feel like they’re part of a family they look forward to coming to work, which improves the work environment and also encourages employees to stick around.
Innovation can improve efficiency at work, which increases productivity and saves money. It can streamline the supply chain, shorten the procurement lifecycle, and save time. It can boost the performance of social value initiatives, make them more successful, increase public attention, and, you guessed it, grow brand awareness and reputation. All of which improve your chances of winning public procurement contracts.
5) More exposure
All of the above can lead to another important benefit, access to the international market. Global procurement challenging. After all, there are a lot of new regulations to learn, including international trade regulations and regulations in the countries in which you operate. However, global procurement has so many benefits, including exposure to a much bigger client base, that the effort is worth it.
Sustainability is embedded in the supply chain. It’s part of the business and has an impact on everything the business does.
Sustainability is based on the same three factors as social value: environmental, social, and economic. But instead of being an either/or decision, businesses must try to balance them all for a holistic approach to sustainable business practices.
It’s also forward-thinking; for example, sustainability regarding environmental protection, human rights, fair labour, diversity, and education and development must be developed to have an immediate positive impact in the community, as well as meet the needs of future generations.
Social impact can be felt on a local, national, or global level. The more extensive the reach, the better. It’s a good idea for NPOs, global industry companies, and governments to develop flexible sustainable strategies because the regulations and requirements are likely to change alongside changes to the environment.
Sustainable Procurement Strategy
To create a sustainable procurement strategy you must keep eight factors in mind at all times.
1) Understand the wider (global) market
Know how different sectors work so you can leverage existing experience and expertise in new and innovative ways.
2) Company support
Sustainable procurement is not a one-team job. It needs collaboration and support from all stakeholders, including the C-suite, marketing and sales teams, employees, investors, etc.
3) CSR leads from the front
Sustainable procurement falls under your business’s corporate social responsibility policies. It must align with those objectives, values, and ethical business practices.
4) Strategic decision-making
A sustainable strategy isn’t based on intuition and educated guesses. Leverage data from analytics and a diverse range of reports generated by AI software to make informed decisions.
5) Performance measurement
It’s important to have a benchmark so you know how well you’re performing. You can use the benchmark to identify opportunities with the potential to make a significant difference in people’s lives. Then you need to create metrics to measure performance, like KPIs.
6) Risk management
Risk management is an essential part of sustainability and social impact to keep your business from all types of risks, including stock shortage and a financial dip due to prevailing market conditions.
7) Transparent communication
Modern public sector procurement emphasises transparency throughout the tender process and up and down the supply chain. This keeps everything fair and above board, and it also lets members of the public see exactly how their taxes are spent.
Good communication ensures all relevant parties are on the same page and avoids the danger of misunderstandings that disrupt operations and can even lead to contract termination.
8) Sustainability and innovation
Adopting sustainable operations and implementing sustainable practices often requires change of some kind. Use the opportunity to develop tools or systems that have a positive impact on your business, like streamlined processes that save time and money.
There’s a certain amount of satisfaction that goes with implementing projects to save the world, especially when those projects are successful.
But that’s all macro-level stuff.
Take it down a few notches, and it’s possible to see many other significant benefits.
- Identify and use sustainable, low-impact suppliers with fair trade business policies and environmentally friendly business practices. This ensures community programmes are compliant and ethical.
- Improve brand reputation as a result of sustainable practices, for example, waste reduction and energy-saving processes.
- Save money as a natural result of the above processes.
- Boost the bottom line. Some buyers actively look for sustainable and ethical suppliers and might even be willing to spend more money if they know they’re getting more value from social enterprises and other businesses.
- Have happy staff who are treated fairly and respectfully, and have a healthy work environment.
Social impact is kind of a blend of social value and sustainability – and a few things of its own. First, let’s get a clearer definition of social impact.
Social impact is the positive or negative long-lasting effect businesses and organisations have on communities, cities, counties, countries, and the world. It addresses social, economic, and environmental challenges.
Social impact also consists of four pillars.
2) Environmental stewardship
3) Ethical labour practices
4) Economic responsibility
It’s important to remember that social impact is not a standalone feature. It’s woven into the fabric of your brand. It forms part of your brand’s identity.
Social value is a bigger approach to social value and sustainability and it’s particularly important that social impact is properly marketed because it’s the kind of thing that leaves a lasting impression.
Marketing Social Impact
Modern consumers like to support companies that embrace sustainable development and address social issues, but they also like to feel as though they’ve contributed to positive social change.
A simple example:
A company sells t-shirts. Their social value initiative is providing free shirts to anyone who registers for their apprentice programme.
They can engage consumers by giving 15% of their purchase price to fund the initiative.
It’s crucial for consumers to know about this opportunity to create positive change in communities.
This is why it’s important to develop a comprehensive strategy with a social impact marketing agency.
How to market social impact
Social impact is a niche section of business-to-government (B2G) marketing strategies. It needs a special approach that only some B2G marketing agencies can provide.
Let’s look at some of the most important features of social impact marketing.
Let your brand be your brand. Part of being authentic is having your brand’s goals align with its values. Your social impact programme must also align with your brand – you must be able to relate to your cause. For instance, it would be odd for a well-known hamburger franchise to support veganism.
As with social value and sustainability, social impact programmes must use the full range of marketing channels; print ads and articles, online ads and articles, blogs, infographics, social media, conferences, expos, TV, etc. The more channels you use, the greater your opportunity to sell your sustainable development programme to an eager target market.
Collaborate with NPOs that fully understand their catchment area and can inform you of the most pressing social challenge.
Let’s take the t-shirt example. Based on the knowledge provided by the NPO, you’ll direct 15% of each purchase to school feeding schemes.
Quick tips to develop a social impact strategy
Your marketing agency will know how to create an effective social impact strategy, but here are some quick tips so you know where your marketing agency is heading.
- Know your brand. Be authentic.
- Know your brand’s impact in your area, including the environmental, economic, and social impact. When you know where you stand, you know where to set the goalposts.
- Create the first draft of your plan. You will refine it as you go along.
- Use an appropriate measurement framework. In the UK, the Social Value Model is used by the central government. Local government uses TOMS (Themes, Outcomes, Measures).
- Have analytics software for data collection and reports.
- Use reports for ongoing learning and greater social impact.
- Ensure you have buy-in from all stakeholders.
Market Your Social Impact Programme With An Experienced B2G Marketing Agency
You needn’t be a large business enterprise to effect positive change in your area. Small businesses can have a dramatic positive social impact on communities with a carefully considered plan that leverages social value and sustainability. In this way, they can use a well-rounded approach to overcoming social challenges and impacting the lives of their local community.
B2G marketing specialists can develop a comprehensive social impact plan that delivers maximum benefits for small businesses, the people in their region, and (one day) the international community of suppliers.
Get a taste of B2G marketing services and what they can do for you. Book a free consultation with Cadence Marketing to discuss how we can develop a strategy that meets your current and future needs.