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Want to give back to your community as a company? Rally your network around an issue? Connect with others through a common charitable goal? If you answered “yes” to any of these, you may want explore cause marketing as an effective way to get your message out, attract quality leads, boost engagement – and do good in the process.
With cause marketing, you can align your brand with a cause or issue to achieve both profitable and social benefits. This approach can speak to like-minded supporters – potentially converting them into lifelong brand loyalists – improve employee morale and set you apart from the competition.
After all, according to the Blackbaud Foundation, 85% of consumers expect companies to do more than make a profit, but to also address social and environmental issues. Further, 87% of consumers would purchase a product because that company stood up for, or advocated for, an issue they care about.
Some successful cause marketing examples include:
- IBM – In an effort to combat the gender gap in the tech industry, IBM’s COD3RS initiative has an ambitious goal to teach one million girls how to code by 2020. The acclaimed campaign is present in more than 80 schools, and a promotional video has millions of views on Facebook and YouTube.
- Microsoft – Microsoft’s Airband Initiative seeks to bring broadband internet to rural communities across the United States. It also educates the public on how internet access is vital for modern education and prosperity. Microsoft partners and supports numerous smaller businesses laying the groundwork for widespread internet access.
- Gillette –When Gillette first started, its tagline was The Best A Man Can Get. In 2018, the company launched its The Best Men Can Be campaign, focusing on how men can lift other men up in their lives and communities. Gillette is donating $1 million per year for three years to programs helping men achieve their personal best.
Cause marketing isn’t as simple as randomly choosing a charity, donating some money and writing a press release. An effective campaign requires more coordinated thought, time and strategy to send a powerful message – and have it stick. Consider the following before launching your own campaign:
Connect Your Company’s Offerings Back to the Issue(s)
Why does your organization care? What makes you qualified to speak out publicly on this issue? Your connection to a cause should be apparent, whether it’s a personal or professional connection. Perhaps you’re a business owner who has overcome cancer. In that case, supporting the American Cancer Society would be a good fit. It’s also why Microsoft’s Airband Initiative works; Microsoft is long recognized as a pioneer in internet access.
Find a Cause That Resonates With Key Customers or Clients
If your customer base isn’t interested in the issue at hand, your campaign can fall flat or even make your organization seem out-of-touch. Demographic research, vital to any marketing, informs campaigns that speak to target audiences in ways that make them feel something. When they feel something – whether it’s uplifted, angered or fascinated – they’re more likely to take action and, hopefully, come back for more. Plus, it enriches your brand in a way that makes sense for the audience you already have.
Structure the Campaign Around Clear, Measurable Goals
Your cause marketing campaign needs a clear roadmap with measurable goals to assess success. Depending on how it is structured, cause marketing can improve brand awareness, stimulate customer or employee engagement or increase profits. Determine which achievements align best with your business’s short- and long-term goals. Monitoring these goals (and complementary key performance indicators) can help hone future campaigns as well.
Time It Right
Executing a cause marketing campaign from beginning to end is a commitment – so you’ll want to ensure your organization has the time and resources to see it through. If it’s a particularly busy season and everyone is juggling a million things to do, it might be smart to keep the campaign in your back pocket until it settles down. Moreover, ensure the timing is right for your audience. Identify any engagement trends to help you decide a campaign period that will get the most attention.
It’s not enough to throw some vague copy up on your website and call it a day. Consumers are more cognizant of inauthenticity now than ever. If your business decides to promote a cause, make sure to clearly communicate the why and the how. Explicitly explain the terms of the partnership, money allocated toward the cause and campaign goals. To communicate genuine care, put the issue – not your brand – at the front-and-center of your campaign messaging.
Get Employees Involved, Too
Further, your employees are your greatest brand ambassadors. Before launching your campaign, employees should feel excited and informed about the cause as well, so they can share their knowledge and passion with clients, partners and customers.
If you’re interested in exploring cause marketing for your business, connect with a skilled marketing and PR team to help you build a multi-channel strategy. With the right resources and approach, your campaign can result in a positive business and community impact.