Cause marketing is what happens when a for-profit business works together with a nonprofit in a way they both can benefit. In fact, it’s more common for companies to work toward a social cause than not.
Cause marketing is the main marketing money-maker for some well-known businesses like TOMS, whose one-for-one policy offers a free pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair bought by a consumer; or Tieks, whose high-end ballet shoe promotes a foundation that empowers female entrepreneurs around the world in an effort to combat poverty. But what does it mean for you?
Customers are wising up to these efforts, and many find themselves asking how a company is going to give back before making a purchase. If your business doesn’t have a good answer to this question, you may be missing out on a great marketing opportunity, a loyal client base, and, of course, an opportunity to help an organization that matters to you (and, ideally, will match with your customers).
Consider some of the reasons that cause marketing is different than your traditional marketing below:
1. It Benefits Both the Business (Products) and the Cause
This is essentially the “meat” behind cause marketing. It should be a mutually beneficial relationship for the company and the cause or organization. For example, Starbucks joined together with Conservation International (CI) in order to help farmers run more sustainable farming operations. This obviously helped CI because they were able to come up with a way to make coffee that is “sustainable, transparent, and good for people and the planet”. In addition, the effort helped Starbucks as well because they can now boast that they’re the largest coffee retailer to use coffee that is 99% ethically sourced—a fact that has helped them grow their business popularity tremendously. The causes are related, and it works for them (more on this later).
2. It Allows the Business and Nonprofit Organization to Reach a Wider Audience
According to Entrepreneur.com, the number of consumers who say they would switch from one brand to another if the other brand were associated with a good cause has climbed to 87-percent, a dramatic increase in recent years. This shows that customers tend to view businesses more favorably if they support a specific cause. Therefore, by doing this you may reach an audience of people who otherwise may not have been attracted to your company based solely on brand name and product. It gives your business the extra boost that some people are looking for, and it will also give you an edge over companies who have yet to embrace CRM.
3. It Enhances Customer Loyalty
Once you’ve reached a large target audience, it’s important to do something to keep them hooked, and marketing for a cause is a great way to do this. Customers tend to believe that when a company donates some of its hard-earned money to a worthy cause, that company is more deserving of their business as opposed to a company that just continues to keep all their profits for themselves. Not to mention, consumers get to feel like they’re also making a difference by supporting a company that aids a nonprofit organization and/or a good cause. That, all on its own, is enough motivation to get them to keep coming back for more.
4. It Builds a Connection Between the Corporation and the Cause
A successful cause marketing campaign should build a connection between the business and the cause it sponsors. All this means is that the cause the business is marketing toward should be somehow related to the business and/or products itself. For example, the Avon cosmetics company started funding the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. These two things are closely tied because women make up the majority of Avon’s consumers, and women are the audience most closely affected by breast cancer. It makes sense for Avon to support this cause because women are more likely to buy makeup from Avon if they know they feel like the company cares about their health. They can also feel good about giving money to a company that is invested in their own health and the health of their female family members and friends.
5. It Boosts a Company’s Public Image
A business’s brand perception is one of the most important things that effects their profits; it’s extremely important to have a positive public image. TOMS is now a status symbol with a following that probably wouldn’t exist without their cause marketing. General Mills cereal became popular when they launched their “Boxtops for Education” marketing campaign. This showed that their company cared about the education of children, who also happened to be their target audience.
Also keep in mind that if your product doesn’t necessarily stand out from the competition, embracing cause marketing could be your solution. This might be an excellent way to boost your brand perception and also show how your company differs (in a positive way) from the others in your line of work.
6. It Builds Employee Morale and Improves Employee Productivity and Teamwork
Who doesn’t want to work for a company that shows it cares about the outside world? Businesses like Salesforce—which gives its employees paid time off to volunteer and grants to use towards nonprofit organizations—are gaining more and more popularity among millennials searching for employment. Employees are more likely to work harder and put in more effort if they are working towards a greater good. Salesforce also encourages teamwork by giving employee teams the incentive of a large grant that they can put towards any nonprofit of their choosing. If you have the budget to put something like this into effect for your business, it will more than likely pay off in an increase in employee loyalty and morale in the end.
So How Do You Getting Started with Cause Marketing?
Now that you know why cause marketing is different, your next step is actually putting a cause marketing plan into action. Stay tuned for Part II titled, “5 Steps to Creating a Successful Cause Marketing Plan”.
In the meantime, does your company have any type of cause marketing in effect? Have you found that all of the benefits above are true, or do you have more to add to the list? Let us know in the comment section below.
Subscribe to SEJ
Get our weekly newsletter from SEJ's Founder Loren Baker about the latest news in the industry!