Webinar 6: Marketing your social enterprise

This is the sixth webinar in a series supporting the Social Procurement Capability Program. In the sixth webinar we:  

  • Discuss important considerations for social enterprises when marketing to potential buyers.  
  • Provide tips for marketing a social enterprise to potential buyers.  
  • Discuss common challenges of marketing and strategies to overcome.

In this webinar we are joined by two guest panellists:  

Tom Allen, Found and CEO of Impact Boom. Impact Boom works with purpose-driven organisations and individuals and helps them to build critical skills to grow their business impact. They run programs to build the capacity of social enterprises including the Elevate plus and iActivate programs, both of which specifically focus on developing scalable and sustainable enterprises.  

Lara Stephenson, Co-Founder of Social Good Outpost. Lara is an entrepreneur and ‘impact designer’. Her work involves design and communication, impact measurement and digital support. Lara helps social impact organisations to develop frameworks around their mission and impact. She also helps social enterprises, non-profits, and government organisations to measure their impact and communicate it effectively.  

Key advice

Is there an emerging opportunity in social procurement for social enterprises to be able to differentiate themselves on the basis of their social or environmental impact?

Local, state, and federal governments, as well as corporate organisations, are increasingly adopting social procurement policies and this activity is driving a trend where buyers are interested in the social impact of organisations. Social enterprises can differentiate themselves by demonstrating their social impact and providing evidence of their work. Having a logic model or a theory of change can help communicate impact effectively and boost credibility. For example, providing statistics on activities, such as number or workshops held or products donated, can also boost their credibility.

What are the most important things to consider about marketing social enterprises to pitch for or win contracts?

The most important things to consider about marketing social enterprises to pitch for or win contracts are:

  1. Understanding your purpose and defining your vision, mission, and theory of change.
  1. Measuring your impact by looking at both outputs and outcomes.
  1. Building relationships and trust with clients.
  1. Providing value for the specific problem of the people you are helping, using processes like design thinking or human-centered design to create products and services that are at least equal, but ideally provide better value than anything else in the market.
  1. Remembering that social enterprises are primarily businesses, and therefore need to focus on revenue to sustain and create the impact they desire.
  1. Understanding the specific needs and outcomes of potential clients in order to provide services that meet those needs and create a return customer base.

What are some of the common challenges that Social enterprises have when it comes to marketing themselves to prospective buyers?

Some of the most common challenges that social enterprises face when marketing themselves to buyers include:  

  1. Building trust and establishing authentic relationships.  
  2. Being consistent in their approach.  
  3. Having limited time and budgets.  

Other factors that can impact a social enterprise’s success in marketing include their reputation, perceived value, and their ability to deliver on their promises. Social enterprises may also struggle to balance their desire to create impact with their need to generate financial returns.

What examples of effective marketing have you seen / used to help win government or private contracts?

Some examples of effective marketing being used to win contracts include:

  1. Acknowledging the small size of the enterprise but emphasizing successful deliveries.
  1. Forming partnerships with other enterprises to bring complementary skills and credibility, matching the language and values of the buyer.  
  1. Building relationships with the person procuring and providing extra value beyond the contract deliverables.
  1. Quantifying the social change or value provided.  
  1. Focusing on the tenders that are appropriate for the enterprises’ capabilities.