‘Tis the Season to Do Well by Doing Good

an interview with
Lynley Sides CEO, The Glue Network

‘Tis the season that people and brands start to think about doing a little good for others.  Lynley Sides, CEO of a philanthropically-oriented start-up called The Glue Network, has a plan to help brands do well by doing good all year round. She makes a compelling case for CSR programs noting that, “People are nearly twice as likely to buy or recommend a product if it’s affiliated with a cause they care about.” Here’s my interview with Lynley.  I think she is on to something really good!

DN: What are your goals for The Glue Network?
The Glue Network is the first to elegantly combine giving with digital media to deliver bottom line results for companies (greater return on marketing spend or greater return on company giving) and to be a catalyst for good in the world. Our two primary goals are:

  • Deliver business results for companies. Today, corporate giving groups are under tremendous pressure to deliver business results beyond goodwill — we deliver that.  Marketing groups are seeking authentic (non-gimmicky) ways of engaging with their consumers and stakeholders that not only deliver more clicks but deeper relationships and a positive image — we deliver that.  Small companies are especially challenged to accomplish these things due to limited resources — the Glue automated platform delivers the same results for a company / program of any size.
  • Be a catalyst for good:  Success with #1 means companies will spend more this way — more results for them + more good for the world.  Also, as individuals are engaged in giving at younger ages, they give more over the course of their lives and influence more giving from others.  Through the individuals a company engages with their Glue program, we encourage future good (giving, volunteering, social entrepreneurship).

DN: Do you think a lot of brands are looking to do well by doing good right now given the challenging economy?
Yes, this is absolutely a hot topic for business right now because there are 2 competing factors at work.  Despite the challenging economy, companies (not just big ones) face higher expectations from consumers/stakeholders for social responsibility and the lowest levels of satisfaction in history.  But also (as supported by a recent study by The Conference Board), as these economic pressures persist, what doesn’t improve the bottom line is in the end not sustainable.  So, if companies don’t figure out how to give back and have that giving drive value beyond goodwill or a golden halo, it will cease to be justifiable — which would be a missed opportunity for business and a massive loss for the world.

Companies that aren’t feeling the pain of this challenge are either the few that are far ahead of the curve, with social responsibility deeply engrained in their businesses in ways that create value, or have not yet faced this reality because they continue to look at marketing and giving separately.

DN: There are so many ways for brands to “do good,” why should they align with The Glue Network?
Glue does more than they can do otherwise and we make it far easier for them.  People are nearly twice as likely to buy or recommend a product if it’s affiliated with a cause they care about.  However, when a company makes a charitable gift, the nonprofit may fit with their brand and help a good cause — but necessarily, it’s not the one most of that brand’s customers would have chosen.  To drive greater business value, companies need to create cause-based experiences that allow consumer choice and provide rich, social experiences.  Voting campaigns by brands like Pepsi, Chase, Gap, Target and more take a step toward this but could do more to deliver engaging experiences and tie the experience back to direct direct business results.  And they aren’t feasible for smaller companies to pull off.

Glue’s automated, closed loop platform enables cause-based social marketing programs of any size that create deep engagement, multi-point brand/cause associations, high sharing rates and a closed loop brands can use to drive new customers and rich data.  This is a unique and powerful combination.

DN: What makes you confident that the “goodwill” generated by TGN will translate into ‘good’ revenue?
Companies don’t need Glue to create goodwill.  But when individuals are given rich options and the power to choose (not just vote but choose), they become personally attached to their choice and to the company that enabled them to make it — and more inspired to share the experience with their friends and support the company in the future.  That’s not just our opinion.  Our user data blows away industry average rates for sharing and clicks — meaning we’re inspiring the users (the company’s customers), giving the company access to those customers’ friends and colleagues (highly attractive targets), and enabling them to directly drive new customers and revenue from that base PLUS develop new customer data which all companies know to have value.

The Glue platform is flexible enough to fulfill numerous business objectives spanning customers, partners, and employees.  But for any audience, a Glue program delivers significantly higher business value for the cost than comparable traditional digital media, loyalty, or giving programs.

DN: What kind of commitment are you looking for from brands?
Very little.  We’re committed to making robust Social Cause Marketing feasible and justifiable (through business results) for every company.  We’re like a Salesforce.com <http://Salesforce.com>  (sophisticated CRM for all) or Eventbrite (anyone can be an event organizer) — this December, businesses from small local startups to one of the largest tech companies are creating greater value from the same holiday gift spending through Glue.  For brands that want to create larger programs with a more integrated, branded experience, we can do that too.

This ease and flexibility is made possible by the robust platform we’ve developed with an extensive back-end that enables campaign and non-profit project management.

DN: What can companies do quickly to harness the spirit of the holidays to increase customer loyalty and attract new customers while doing good?
Companies of all sizes spend on gifts and branded merchandise (a $17 billion industry), many of which wind up in landfills and few of which the recipient finds meaningful or worthy of telling people about.  Instead of mugs or gift baskets, give a Glue gift which has meaning for the recipient, does good in the world, and generates free PR for the business in the form of social media recommendations — for the same cost and minimal effort. Contact info@thegluenetwork.com

Final note:  Lynley Sides is CEO of The Glue Network and has spent her career bringing groundbreaking new products to market. She’s passionate about digital media, social ventures, running, skiing and the fight for global human freedom. You can follow her @LynleySides.

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