According to the classic economic theory, the social responsibility of business is to create profits. But if making profit is your only reason to be in business and guides all your decisions then – ironically – you are not likely to create a very profitable business.
Profits are one Key Performance Indicator, which, in association with other parts of a decent balanced scorecard of measurements, show you that the approach you are taking is working. Profits are the natural by-product of a successful strategy.
But if you focus on the profit itself, then you are going to think short-term. You are going to make decisions that harm your customer relationships because they are inherently selfish. You will never build anything resembling loyalty; the goodwill that makes your business more valuable than its basic assets (ask an accountant for proof) will never grow.
Instead business is about value creation. The ultimate questions are: how can we create more value for the customer, and how much is that worth to them?
Social Media can be a useful tool in building value and relationships. But it can also just become a cost of doing business, an additional marketing channel, which doesn’t really provide any additional value to your customers.
Similarly retail environments can be just a place to close the deal, a final funnel to fulfil all that built-up demand. Or they can be places that focus on building value and relationships, where people flock to not only buy at the lowest price, but to feel informed and involved and *valued*.
So keep an eye on your profits, but make decisions based on how you can increase the tangible and intangible value you provide your customers. Your brand will thrive, your share price and profits will grow, and your customers will thank you.