Cause Marketing

Cause Marketing: Increasing Sales and Profits by Doing Good

Cause Marketing and SalesBusinesses love cause marketing. And what’s not to love? By supporting a good cause, your business gets to help an organization in the community and, in the process, experience stronger sales.

 

Cause marketing is defined as a special relationship between a business and a charity that benefits both. When done right, companies make their customers feel good, get the sale, and promote a worthy cause all at the same time.

 

Developing and executing an effective cause marketing program can be a challenge, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are six tips to make sure your cause marketing program is a success.

 

1. Choose the right cause for you and your customers.

Think of partnerships that are closely connected with your business and aligned to what your consumers and employees care about. What is a hot button issue for you? Does the cause strike a chord with your customers? If young people and their education is a passion for you and your clients feel strongly about it too, giving a corporate gift to support a non-profit’s youth mentoring program shows a commitment to that mission.

2. Do your homework.

The non-profit you support is a reflection of your brand’s reputation. Take a look at several non-profits and causes. Make sure the non-profit you choose has the infrastructure to partner with your business and can handle any increase in donations, inquiries, volunteers and Web traffic without crashing or losing track of funds.

Research their overhead percentages — how much of the money raised actually goes to the people they serve — and the credibility of executive and board members.

It’s also important to make sure their track record is above-board. Nothing can damage your brand more than launching a campaign that turns out to be a scam.

3. Start small and set reasonable, measurable goals.

Keep it simple. If you are a small business, stay away from the huge non-profits. Instead, find a local organization you can get excited about. Choose one or two measurable objectives in the first year. At year’s end, evaluate your progress.

4. Promote your partnership and campaign.

One of the most common mistakes is not spending enough time, money, and energy on promotion. Successful partnerships require a commitment to getting the word out. Cross-promote your campaign with reciprocal website links, blog posts and articles in each other’s newsletters. Your website and blog are great places to promote the partnership. But don’t indiscriminately ask for donations. Cause marketing campaigns are like every other kind of marketing: provide value and you’ll build credibility.

5. Involve your employees.

Your entire team needs to be on board with any cause marketing campaign. Find out the issues that are important to them. Then get them engaged and motivated once you’ve picked a cause. Consider giving employees paid “volunteer” time. For example, allow them an hour each week to volunteer at local charities or with your company’s non-profit partner. Remember, once you’ve made a partnership, the cause is part of your business strategy.

6. If it goes wrong.

Sometimes partnerships don’t work out. If a partnership falls apart, take responsibility and be honest and transparent with customers about what went wrong. If you find out your non-profit partner isn’t performing like they promised, tell your clients. Then vow to find a way to keep supporting the cause. Honesty and transparency is the best and only policy to follow.

 

Cause marketing can be susceptible to an ingrained preconceived notion that brands will use non-profits to get more cash and profits. But when done properly, your partnership can make a real difference.

Marketing Matters to Your Customers. It Should Matter to You.

Cause marketing is now the norm for businesses. What is cause marketing?  Simply put, it’s a mutually beneficial partnership between a nonprofit and a for-profit (your business) for mutual profit.  It’s also known as cause-related marketing (CRM).

 

American Express first used the phrase in 1983 to describe its campaign to raise money for the restoration of the Statue of Liberty. American Express donated one cent to the restoration fund every time someone used its charge card. As a result of the campaign, the number of new American Express cardholders grew by 45%, and card usage increased by 28%. And the Statue of Liberty restoration fund?  In just four months, more than $2 million was raised for the project.

 

Your customers want to know that you share their desire to make the world a better place by supporting an important cause. Consumers now routinely turn to brands that stand for a cause. In a recent poll, 87% of consumers say they would switch from one brand to another if the other brand were associated with a good cause.

 

And businesses are taking notice. In 2010, companies spent $1.62 billion on cause marketing — up from 1990, when the number was just $120 million.

 

Where do you begin? For most companies, it’s best to start small by partnering with a local charity and working on a small campaign. If you’re ready to take on a larger cause, begin by contacting the development department at the charity you’re want to partner with. Remember, they are looking a solid ROI (just as you are), so be prepared to give them information on your platform, target audience and level of visibility. Make sure that the organization can provide you with similar solid stats on your ROI, too. After all, this is a partnership that you want to grow over time and not a one-time marketing boost. Like any good partnership, it must be nurtured and cultivated. 

 

Avoid Greenwashing

Avoid the Greenwash Tag

Embrace authenticity in your green practices

Avoid Greenwashing

More and more businesses are claiming to be using green, sustainable, or eco-friendly practices as part of their cause marketing strategy and/or overall corporate social responsibility (CSR) policy. They’re recycling, planning buildings that are energy-efficient, using only all-natural products in their ingredients or food they serve, or using only energy-efficient appliances.

As claims of environmentally sound practices multiply, a problem has arisen. How can anyone be sure that a particular business is actually practicing what they say they are?  The problem has become known as “greenwashing” and unfortunately, it’s becoming more commonplace.

Greenwashing is misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of their products or services.  In order to avoid being branded a “greenwasher” here are some important marketing principles your business can apply:

Recycling and Sustainability• Avoid using broad environmental claims such as “safe for the environment”, “environmentally friendly”, or “environmentally friendly”.  Any claims you make must be specific and clear to customers.
• Claims must be relevant to the product.  For example, claiming a product contains no chlorofluorocarbons even though chlorofluorocarbons were banned over 20 years ago.  Customers need to know the claim is technically accurate.
• Avoid the “Lesser of Two Evils” found in contradictory product combinations such as, “Clean Coal”.
• Avoid claims like “we use only green products” unless you can document that fact.
• Avoid terms like “only,” “always,” “all”, and “never,” unless you can back it up with no exceptions.

Remember, it doesn’t matter if the problem was intentional or inadvertent.  You need to get it right from the beginning and maintain consistency.  As customers become more knowledgeable about green, being branded a “greenwasher” will affect your credibility and could potentially lead to legal action. So it’s important to embrace transparency and authenticity in your actions whatever your claims may be.