Yes, you can grow a business without damaging the planet or the people who live on it. From a start-up in 2006 to a presence in 30,000 stores worldwide, Yes To is a success story by any measure. And its values, as explained on its Facebook page, could come straight from “Social Enterprise 101,” if there were such a handbook:
- a portion of all proceeds has been dedicated to a non-profit, 501(c)3 organization
- sustainability in products, partners, and the lives of the company and the people who work for the company
- a team committed to taking steps to lead greener and more ‘aware’ lifestyles (organic fruit deliveries! recycling! team yoga!)
- a healthy, happy team makes everything a little bit better
Social good is part of the DNA of many new companies, according to Yes To co- founder Ido Leffler, an observation confirmed by research. “We grew up that way,” he says. “You no longer need to be a billion dollar company to make a difference.” (Amen to that!)
As with many entrepreneurs, he and his partners were looking for something they wanted – healthful personal care products – and they found a gap in the market so they filled it, with products made from carrots, cucumbers, blueberries, and tomatoes, among other wholesome ingredients.
The foundation of Yes To is positivity, Leffler says. Other companies and people focus on what you shouldn’t do; his company is about what you should do, including use other products if Yes To’s don’t work for you.
Another part of Yes To’s foundation: social media on which almost all marketing is based. Yes To has one person who is the “voice” of the company on social media. But she has access to everyone in the company: chemists, sales staff … everyone. Giving her the answers she needs is “as important as anything they do in the day,” Leffler says.
In other words, customer service and customer interaction are every one’s job. That’s how the business grows. Facebook generates ideas for new product lines as well as loyalty among customers who know they are respected and valued.
“Most companies are pushing product onto people. We are pulling products from them and giving them back,” Leffler says. “We are customer centric.”
So, customer service is job one and people count. What other lessons has Leffler learned?
- If the person doing posts goes on holiday, make sure there’s back up. You have to get back to people within 24 hours.
- Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know. Research the answer and get back to the questioner.
- Don’t be afraid to admit mistakes.
- You may be typing on a computer but you are still dealing with people who don’t just want attention, they want respect.
- Not everyone will love everything you do. Try to sway a person to feel positive. Give serious consideration to complaints and try to make an adjustment. Seeing your effort will have a positive effect on the non-complainers as well.
- Loyalty is more important than quantity. It’s more important to 500 loyal and excited fans than 200,000 disengaged ones.
- Dedicate staff to social media. Give clear and straight-forward guidelines about the voice you want heard on the web.
- If your social media staff can’t answer a question, make sure they have immediate access to those who can answer the question.
- Be honest with retailers as well as customers. Don’t pretend to be anything you’re not. Tell them what you can and cannot do.
- Keep learning. New things come out every day. Learn something everyday, from other companies and from one another.
And his final advice: Focus on what you are good at. You can get dragged in different directions but be true to your original mission and vision. It takes patience, but focus!
He should write that Social Enterprise 101 handbook.
What are your rules for using social media successfully? Have you incorporated social good into your business plan?