Strategic partnerships that do good AND make $ense


I recently read about a new first of its kind public-private partnership between Land O’ Lakes and the state of Minnesota to protect and improve water quality stewardship standards across the state. I believe this is an excellent example of a strategic partnership that not only helps the planet and strengthens the company’s stakeholder value chain but also tells a compelling story that resonates with customers (like me) and will ultimately make the company more profitable.

Here is why:

Land O’ Lakes uses water and milk in its’ products (I think we are all familiar with its’ delicious butter).  Milk comes from cows.  Cows create vast amounts of “cow patty” waste that can pollute water resources.  Cows also eat grass and grains which are often grown with fertilizer and/or pesticides which pollute water resources and can find their way into your stick of butter (through the cow).  This strategic partnership with the state of Minnesota is providing much needed financial resources to implement water quality initiatives which ultimately improve the health and wellbeing of the people and animals who depend on those water resources, including Land O’ Lakes.

The reason I love this example is because it demonstrates a company’s commitment to not only do the right thing but also invest its resources in a way that adds tremendous value to its purpose and brand.  It is a strategic win-win-win solution that reduces its’ environmental impact, improves the health of the planet, improves farming systems, and reinforces a powerful narrative that makes logical sense to its stakeholders: suppliers (farmers), employees, customers, investors, and community members.  There is even an intuitive connection between “water” and the company’s name: Land O’ Lakes. The next time you slab a chunk of butter on your toast…won’t it taste even better? This is a brand promise you can taste, literally and figuratively.

While some companies give generously to their community, both financially and through volunteer hours, I have seen too many examples where the recipients of their generosity are at the whim of the CEO or employee votes. This is not bad, but I think it is worth their effort to think about how their social and environmental commitments tie strategically to their business objectives, products, operational footprint, and purpose/mission; in ways that are both intuitive to and for the benefit of their stakeholders.  A counter example to this would be if Land O’ Lakes decided to support Panda conservation efforts – an honorable cause but one that isn’t necessarily a part of their stakeholder value chain.

Click here to read about some of the other innovative (and cool!) projects that Land O’ Lakes is doing to protect the health and wellbeing of its stakeholders, including a pollination project that protects bees and pollinator habitat.

Are you looking to be more strategic and stakeholder-oriented with your social and environmental initiatives?  Would you like to invest your time, money and other resources in a way that provides the greatest impact, return on investment, and value for your stakeholders?  SEED Strategies can help – contact us today!

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