Cause Marketing Thoughts | East Shores Agency

It is one of the latest revolutions and ever-present strategies in marketing is cause-marketing. Besides being an excellent strategy to connect with “millennials” and “Gen X’ers”, cause-marketing serves as an excellent platform to promote your business’ good will within your community (Adweek). Not to mention, a little positivity also goes a long way, especially now with so much negativity and “alternative/fake news” clogging up everyone’s social and email feeds. It is nice to see someone doing good for a change.

Besides spreading a little positivity in the world, there are substantial economic reasons that your brand should implement a cause-marketing strategy. In a recent Entrepreneur article, Kim Gordon notes that, “The number of consumers who say they would switch from one brand to another if the brand were associated with a good cause has climbed to 87 percent, a dramatic increase in recent years…”. Brands can receive substantial word of mouth and earned media through a successful implementation of a cause marketing campaign. Businesses more than ever, especially brick and mortar, need to regain the trust and cement the loyalty of the masses as we shift into the growing digital world.

However, when implementing a cause-marketing strategy, there are a few things to consider:

1.      For maximum impact, keep the cause in-line with your business’ objectives and industry. Authenticity is key. Partnering with a cause that doesn’t align with your business’ goals has the potential to backfire, despite, the “good-intentions”. I like to think to in-terms of six-degrees of separation, I would try to keep your business and the partnership organization within 2 or 3 degrees maximum. For example, say you own a hotel in Milwaukee, WI, I would expand off the keywords “Milwaukee” and “Hotel”, so perhaps partnering with a local homeless shelter and offering X% of room rates go towards that organization. On the other side, if you are KFC (which sells high-fat foods, of which can lead to cancer), it may not be the best idea to promote an initiative to raise awareness for breast cancer (Forbes) .

2.      If you are a local business, I would suggest sticking to a local non-profit. People like to see results, especially when it is positivity in their own community. The same goes for a national brand, consider a national non-profit so that your partnership can resonate with the largest audience possible. Some of your audience may feel excluded or unmoved to contribute if your partnership aims at helping a regional or local cause.

There are always exceptions and should not immediately write off any perspective organizations that do not appear to be correlated. Consider local Milwaukee bands (as well as Bandcamp) teaming up to donate 100% of their proceeds on the day following the executive order attempting to block immigration (Milwaukee Record). These are local musicians supporting a national cause that do not appear to have any direct correlation, but it was successful nonetheless.

3.      If you are going to take this path, make sure the partnership and the respective marketing push appear genuine. If the amount donated or effort appears lackluster, then your market will likely perceive your brand as lackluster. Consider offering more than a paycheck, perhaps your team commits to volunteering a predetermined number of hours a month.

4.      Thoroughly investigate your perspective organization. Consider how much and where your fundraised money and efforts will be put to use. As we have seen with the Pink NFL Merchandise sales that, “after everyone has taken their cut, only 8.01% of money the ACS spent on pink NFL merchandise is actually going towards cancer research” (Sports Illustrated). Please note, that this is not to take away from the importance of breast cancer awareness, it just serves as a mere suggestion that there may be more impactful organizations that fights for the same cause.

5.      Don’t forget to reach out to the organization first. Ideally this partnership will be a mutually beneficially cooperation. The financial goal is that you can extend your business’ goodwill into each other’s networks as well as offer marketing support. An important note, make sure that keep control of your brand and your logo for all press releases and uses.

6.      As for the marketing strategy portion, your best bet is to make the campaign: simple, inspiring, encourage social sharing and earned media and make sure to request a small personal action that impacts a big issue – the following Harvard Business Review’s article, The Elements of an Effective Cause Marketing Campaign, explains wonderfully.

7.      Lastly but most importantly, commit to the long-term. If the partnership is a one-off event, your business may receive short-term benefits however your business’ long-term credibility may be subjected to becoming tarnished, if your business’ fails to continue its support.

If you have any questions or comments, we would love to hear from you!

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