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Madison Polkowitz / Gavel Media

Marketing Strategies for Social Impact

At "Doing Well By Doing Good, A Diverse Approach to Social Impact", the Marketing Academy at Boston College featured a diverse set of panelists that spoke about how business organizations can create significant social impact. The event, which took place in the Fulton Honors Library on Wednesday evening, aimed to bring students from various disciplines together to explore the connection between marketing strategies and creating positive social change.

“You'd think that these two subject areas are different, yet we believe they are very interconnected,” explained the president of MABC, Jackson Rettig, CSOM ‘17. “We hope that students from across BC will attend and leave our event with new perspectives based upon their specific interests.”

Anna Trieschmann, a CSOM graduate who currently works at Social Innovation Forum, facilitated the discussion. She was accompanied by panelists Alex Horton, who works in social change communications, Thaly Germain, who served as the Executive Director at the Lynch Leadership Academy, and MaryLou Bozza, who is the current Director of Development at Haley House.

The talk began with some advice that most college students hear—take a wide variety of classes and be open to new people with different opinions. Although this is probably nothing novel, it is an important reminder when students often sacrifice taking interesting classes because they may not relate to their intended majors. But one’s major does not necessarily have to translate to a specific job.

Furthermore, social impact can be made at any level of any job because according to Bozza, “It’s not what you do that is important, it is how you do it (yes, even in investment banking).”

Creating social impact neither has to be restricted to nonprofit work, nor does there have to be a choice between making money and contributing to social change.

Networking and projecting one’s own personal brand are key components to achieving significant social impact. Specifically, Germain discussed the importance of self-reflection and marketing oneself. In an increasingly image-driven world, re-branding—whether of a company or of an individual—can make or break the sale. Humanity and business intersect when people communicate their messages to the world and set themselves apart. This is done through presentation, conversation, and collaboration (as well as a snappy suit).

Bozza, who works in nonprofit development, stated that one of the most effective ways to pursue social change is to adapt to what is needed and to stick to the core mission. Years of experience of working at Haley House, a nonprofit organization based in Boston, has led her to believe that trying to accommodate the needs of others involves risk; however, it is risk and strong community investment that contribute to progress.

The panelists then discussed ways to approach sensitive topics such as racism, cultural appropriation, and oppression. Many people are too afraid to say something wrong because they fear it might be taken offensively. Though this consideration is well-intended, it stifles necessary conversation. Possibly one of the best ways to “do good” is to do it with other people. There must be some brave inclination to initiate open dialogue.

When trying to understand how to communicate with people about sensitive issues, it is necessary to practice compassion. “Love is not the absence of conflict,” said Germain. “It is the presence of conflict and the willingness to work through it.”

Effective change can be achieved by building relationships with others and inviting them to apply their skills.

“We [BC students] want to do good and we need to know how we can do that with our skills and abilities.” said Emily Paulson, CSOM ‘19. An individual skill that may not seem particularly special can actually be very useful to a large organization seeking to create an impact.

It doesn’t matter whether one starts at home, at school, or at a corporation—social impact can be made anywhere. It takes tenacity, grit, and even a bit of time, as do all worthwhile ambitions. 

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