Goodwill is Good BusinessBy Brian Bennett

Goodwill toward men.

It’s a classic and touching thought of how we all believe we should behave. Sadly, we often celebrate goodwill once a year during the holiday season.

Truthfully, we’d all be better off if we were able to live this concept daily.

It’s not just because “it’s the right thing to do.” Goodwill is an important part of integrated marketing and brand development.

Goodwill as a Corporate Value

In accounting, goodwill happens when one company acquires another, but pays more than the fair market value of the net assets (total assets – total liabilities). It is defined as an intangible asset on the balance sheet.

More than just an accounting concept, goodwill sits at the heart of brand development. At my company, we define brand equity thusly: “The accumulation of goodwill and preference by a marketed entity as expressed by consumer awareness, intent to purchase, market share, perceived value and quality that are attributable to the financial value to the brand owner.”

All this equals an accumulation of good works and a (brand) promise. We could argue it is the business term for trust. There is more than just semantics connecting the accounting concept of goodwill with human-to-human concern.

The connection is good intent.

Emotional connections are essential to this process. Branding is arguably more related to how people feel about the brand versus the rational logic of what they know to be true.

Demonstrating goodwill consistently in the brand experience has proven to be very effective for many companies in the development of consumer loyalty and engagement.

It makes people feel good about your brand, and that is great for business. There are many ways that marketers can and should employ goodwill in their integrated marketing plans.

Take Up a Cause

An agreement between a business and a nonprofit to raise money for a specific cause or charity, cause-related marketing is a way to connect the concept of goodwill with some promotional incentive.

Each holiday season, businesses try to use cause-related marketing to boost their sales.

You’ll hear things such as, “Bring a can of food to feed the homeless, and we’ll take 10 percent off your purchase,” or “Take a test drive today – for each car sold, we’ll donate $1,000 to a local charity.”

Companies don’t have to limit those efforts to the season when everyone is jumping on the bandwagon.

Efforts outside of the holiday season are less likely to be lost in the clutter AND less likely to appear as an “also ran.”

If Coca-Cola, one of the best-known brands in the world, thinks it’s a good idea, it’s definitely worth considering for your own business.

Be Transparent

Transparency reveals a company’s commitment to goodwill by removing all barriers to —- and the facilitation of -— free and easy public access to corporate information, and the laws, rules, and processes that facilitate and protect those individuals and corporations that freely join, develop, and improve the process.

It’s about letting people see how business is done. It instills trust and confidence in even the largest corporations, and it can be applied in public relations and social media marketing.

Need an example of companies using corporate transparency to give themselves a leg-up on the competition? Here is a list of 10 as reported by Forbes.

Be a Good Corporate Citizen

Good corporate citizenship is about corporations helping solve problems. These efforts should be celebrated with partners and consumers.

A good example is Starbucks. Under the leadership of CEO Howard Schultz, the company supports local causes.

Demonstrating goodwill in your work and business just feels good. As a result, it is tremendously effective for increasing morale and employee retention.

In the process of giving, we actually receive.

Brian Bennett

Brian Bennett is president and owner of STIR Advertising & Integrated Messaging, a Milwaukee-based integrated advertising and marketing communications firm serving clients locally, nationally and globally. Prior to founding STIR in 2001, Brian¹s career included key positions at some of the top advertising agencies in the country, as well as marketing management positions at two Fortune 100 companies.

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