Marketing strategy is the key element in building a sustainable business venture. It starts with clarifying the vision, mission and values of the social enterprise, analyzing the potential users and competitors and elaborating the market determinants such as product, price, placement and promotion. Managing effective distribution systems, promotion and communication are important factors in achieving the desired social impact.
Marketing for social entrepreneurship is a social and managerial process in which individuals and groups receive what they want and need through the exchange of products and values. The task of marketing is to identify and define specific markets for specific products.
The first step in successfully positioning the new business venture, is to conduct a thorough marketing research, analysing who the existing and potential users of the products and services will be, what is the market size and who are the competitors.
The market should be analysed in terms of demographics, social-economical and geographical distribution and size. Useful question that should be asked on this stage are:
Understanding the competition help us determine your competitive advantage and maybe some faults and gaps that need to be addressed. It also leads to better understanding the customer, so that you could position our enterprise for success. Finding out what the competitors are offering, how much they are charging, what are they main competitive advantages and strong selling points, will give an idea of what should be done to create a better targeted service or product. Even if your product is really unique and offer something that has never been offered before, you’re still competing with something else for the time, money and attention of the targeted audience. Getting to know people’s consumption patterns, style of life and decision-making processes will give you a strong foundation in creating a product or service that best addresses their needs and wants.
The Four P’s is a common tool to analyze the marketing mix of the business venture, introduced by McCarthey (1960) and popularized by Philip Kotler in his numerous researches. The four P’s represent the product, price, placement and promotion and aims at comprising all aspects of the production and deliverance processes in a simple and convenient manner.
The product or service that is created through a user-driven design is the core of the marketing strategy. When creating the product, you should think of its key attributes that make it unique and valuable for the customers (the core offering). The product has some physical attributes, including packaging, while the service is more intangible and abstract. The service, unlike the material product is produced, sold and consumed at the same time. It cannot be stored for future use. The perception about the quality of the service is highly subjective and depends on both: the service provider and the service recipient (the end user). Example: In the case of the educational service, it is not only the qualification and expertise of the teacher/ trainer that matter, but also the attitude and the efforts that the trainee put in the whole learning process.
The price is a key element that determines not only the competitiveness of the product/service but also its accessibility to the audience, thus reflecting the social outcome of the venture. The goal of the social enterprise is to make the product or service as acces¬sible as possible, and that means offering the value needed to produce the desired social outcome in the most affordable manner. In the same time the quality should not be compromised in order to secure lower price. Optimizing the costs of production is the key to success in both: maximizing cus¬tomer benefits and ensuring financial sustainability of the enterprise. But affordability does not depend only on managing manufacturing costs. It can also be attained through external financing, creative payment or distribution schemes. These multiple aspects should all be reflected in the marketing and the business plan.
The cost refers to what you’re paying to produce, promote, and distribute your product or service, while the pricing refers to what you’re charging your customers or clients.
In certain cases, the price for the product or service could be placed below the cost of production, if other activities or sources of revenue could subsidize it and ensure the financial viability of the enterprise. These may include donations from fundraising, corporate sponsors, or the addition of multiple revenue-generating activities that can cover the costs of one another. An example of the latter is when an organization offers multiple products or services to multiple customer segments some with higher profit margins than others. This is called differential pricing, and it allows the organization to cross-subsidize the lower-priced items using the profits from the higher-priced items. Example of differential pricing is charging a different fees depending on the income level or the social status of the users or using discounts for attracting marginalized groups of people. It is always good to remember that the end goal of the social enterprise is not maximizing the financial profit, but maximizing the social benefits for the targeted audience. It is not about getting more money out of the venture, but reaching more people by finding better solutions for their problems and challenges.
Placement refers to the distribution channel that are employed in delivering the product and the service to the end users. Accessing more people or larger target audience is a key factor for the success of the social enterprise.
Promotion focus on building relationship with the potential customers. Effective promotion heavily relies on understanding customers’ behaviors and preferences and on resources that the company has for advertising. It’s also important to understand the sociocultural components of building ties with your customers. What is acceptable and desirable in your specific setting? Do people prefer electronic, paper, or human/in-person advertisements? Will you be working through existing channels (e.g., placing an advertisements in supermarkets, newspapers or websites) or advertising independently (e.g., sending SMS advertisements, mailing, going door to door, etc.)? Mapping out the promotional strategy involves centering it around the customer’s behavioral patterns and life styles, your available resources (i.e., team and funding), and the social preferences and customs within which you are operating (Chahine, 2016).
Many companies offer their product or service for free to first-time cus-tomers, to hook them into coming back. Another common practice is to offer packages, like discounted prices for multiple purchases. Other ventures offer promotions for repeat customers when they bring in or recommend new clients, providing discounts to both as an incentive.
Branding plays an important role in the promotion and advertising process. It is about how the social venture is presented and how the desired projected image it conveyed. Picking the name of your social venture is a huge part of this! The name of the enterprise, the logo, the colors on the image, the style in which the information is presented, the web-site design, even the way that your team interacts with the customers – these are all elements of the branding process and the process of positioning the enterprise on the market in a successful way. They form the “identity” of your venture. The brand is the first opportunity to convey the values and the vision of the venture.
A social network is a group of people held together by something they have in common (family, friends, co-workers etc.). When you’re communicating with someone in one of your social networks, you’re doing a kind of social networking.
Social networks are powerful tools in social entrepreneurship. The web-based social networking platform are also called social media such as (Durieux et Stebbins, 2010):
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