What is cause marketing? Connecting for-profit companies with non-profit communities through cooperative efforts in order to support the non-profit and raise awareness as well as boost the social equity of the for-profit efforts. Cause marketing is not a new idea, but the proliferation of social media has elevated cause marketing to the forefront of corporate responsibility and activity. Today, businesses of all sizes must implement a cause marketing initiative if they want to increase social equity.
It’s not enough today to make a good product or provide an effective service. If you want to get the vote of the public and extend your reach into communities who have purchasing power, you have to be philanthropic. You have to give.
The power of creating social equity will push you into relevancy with Generation Y and solidify your relationship with Generation X, the two most dominant generations supporting and championing the cause marketing trend.
When you consider the outreach within those generations and the power to do good, it should be a no brainer for your company to find and support a cause that will help you leverage your time, talent and resources to change the world.
Consumers are still consuming, but the fact is the purchaser feels better when their own consumerism is supporting something greater than themselves. So how do you ease the consumer conscience all the while selling your product or service? Create partnerships. Join forces. Go social and do good.
Maria Tabaka, in a recent Inc.com article says “If done well, your partnership will increase your brand loyalty and sales, garner positive press coverage and differentiate you from the competition. In fact, according to a Cone Cause Evolution Study, a whopping 79% of Americans say they would be likely to switch from one brand to another, when price and quality are about equal and if the other brand is associated with a good cause. But don’t discount the fact that they will drop you like a hot potato if consumers sense insincerity or greed behind your cause related marketing efforts. This approach is not for you if you don’t have a passion for your cause.”
What are the elements of a social cause media campaign?
- Video – storytelling is key in cause marketing. Remember, when you are telling a story, you are telling the non-profit’s story, not your own. You weave your business story in as narrator not as the star. A YouTube channel is a must have.
- Blogging – people connect to the cause because of the community. A community without regular conversation will die. You must have frequent, relevant posts to bring people together and to encourage the sharing of the need, idea, or project. Get a blog focused on the cause from your company perspective or at the very least, make sure you use tags and categories in every cause related post.
- Sharing – social sharing on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are critical to creating social equity with cause marketing. Make sure you are linked and are actively growing your community by sharing and commenting within the social space. No brainer: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Pintrest. Give your community something to share — stories that impact, images that connect, comments and feedback about the partnership and it’s benefits. Again, the power of video in this space is huge.
- Sweat equity – people have time and money to give. Some will give money, but many want to get their hands dirty and roll up their sleeves and help. Give the social community an opportunity to show up and serve. Create service based events to support the cause you are aligned with. Capture giving in action, it helps build community and light a fire under the on-lookers.
- Be hip – the social cause marketing programs that are effective have a hip factor. Enlist the best brand advocates you have to help you launch the cool factor of being a part of the community. It ties back to our need to be liked and fit in. The key is to integrate your corporate image with an emotion evoking message or image. If possible, get a celebrity endorsement or advocate to help you tell the story.
- PR – use media whenever possible to help you further your connections. Create a PR campaign that taps into all aspects of the project and focuses on the outcome or benefits provided by your partnership with the non-profit. Ultimately this is about THEM, so make all attempts to garner favor with the media about the project. Focus on the real life stories.
And finally, make sure that you are fully invested in the program you want to support. If you don’t have a passion for the project then your efforts will fail miserably and you will reap the backlash of the passionate supporters. The project should first and foremost tug at your heart before you even think about aligning for business purposes.