“I want to save the world and still be able to buy a Tesla.”
“How about saving part of the world and buying a Toyota?”
If you can build brand recognition, loyalty, and trust and, at the same time, make a difference in your community, you’d probably take that path. As it turns out, 2020 informed us all that efforts that link an emotional connection to a product or service during a year with a pandemic and social unrest can affect a customer’s buying decisions.
Sitting on the fence might still be safe, but it might not be as profitable. Today we are seeing CEOs of large companies publicly identifying their positions on social issues. They are taking a stand, even when their position is potentially controversial. In the recent past, corporations were likely to go out of their way to avoid showing support for social issues. Today, a cause might be at the center of a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign.
What Is Cause Marketing?
It is a strategic business effort executed by a company that is mutually beneficial for it and the charity it seeks to serve. Today’s customers—a lot of them on the younger side—are holding companies and brands to a higher standard than ever before and evaluating an organization’s actions and involvement in their community.
Benefits of Cause Marketing
By partnering for the common good, businesses establish and maintain relationships with customers, who in return, will be more loyal to their brand. Studies have shown that a company’s “social purpose” is the most critical factor that influences a buyer’s decision.
Such causes are newsworthy and attract positive attention from the media.
A warm feeling toward a business can have a significant impact on a buyer’s behavior. Paul Newman’s company, Newman’s Own, famously donates all the proceeds of its sauces and salsas to charitable causes and that fact is printed on the label. When choosing between comparable items, almost all customers will choose to purchase a product that benefits a cause. This $4.99 red sauce versus that $4.99 red sauce that supports camps for kids.
More than half of employees in a recent survey revealed that it was important to them to work for a company where they can make a difference. This fact can make a big difference in recruiting and retaining good employees. And then there’s the improvement in morale and the enhanced ability to create a real team.
Types of Cause Marketing
The donation box at your grocery store for the local children’s hospital is a simple but effective form of cause marketing. Those micro-donations add up and make a real difference and they also attach a warm and fuzzy feeling to the business that’s encouraging local philanthropy.
Other common tactics are:
- A percentage of sales donated to a charity, either for a certain time period or forever.
- A volunteerism partnership, where employees donate their time to a cause or charity.
- The corporate gift-matching of donations from employees and customers.
- Co-branded events where the business and charity work together to promote both their causes.
Imagine a booth set up to distribute water at a local foot race; the bottled water company puts their favorite water charity in the booth with them and funds are raised to build wells in third-world countries. Or a business like PetSmart letting the local animal shelter introduce their animals within the store itself.
Some companies have historically treated cause marketing as a “one-off” activity at Christmas, but many companies are now recognizing cause marketing as a critical component of their long-term business strategy.
First, getting started shouldn’t be painful as the costs can be quite low. Costs vary, especially if you decide to tack on advertising to your cause marketing, but in general they can be done for little or nothing. The key is to find a cause that you and your staff are passionate about. Tie that cause or charity to your operations, to your advertising channels. Make it a part of your daily life in a meaningful way.
If you can find a seamless match, that would be the best-case scenario because it’s easier for your customers to connect your bottled water company to wells for people who need water or your pet store and a charity for pets that need homes.
And, odds are, if your business is all about dental work, then your employees will have an interest or affinity for dental work and therefore, connecting to a mobile free dental truck will probably please everyone.
The relationship and messaging need to be genuine or the campaign can backfire and the effort can damage your brand and even the cause itself.
Integrating your cause marketing efforts into all aspects of your organization can be really meaningful to your customers. A recent survey revealed that 64% of customers say that while donations are great, they’d love to see efforts integrated into a company’s business model.
Get the Word Out
Take photos and videos of what you are doing in the community. Get the word out in as many ways as possible.
Send photos, videos, and news releases to local news stations and newspapers that love this sort of content.
Post on all your social media platforms and ask your employees to share.
Create blog posts on your website sharing about what you are doing, who you are helping, and how your customers can get involved. You’re creating a community here.
The strategy is simple: when you are authentic in your efforts to help your community, you’ll be able to make a difference and your customers will reward you through increased purchases and long-term brand loyalty. And, you can change part of the world and get that Toyota you’ve had your eye on. And if you do your job exceptionally well, you can get the Land Cruiser instead of the Corolla.
With offices in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles, CA, New Target provides digital strategy, web design, web development, data integration, application hosting, and online marketing for prominent national associations, companies, government agencies.
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