In today’s digital world, the challenge for brand awareness, customer acquisition, and maintaining profitability is at an all time high. While consumers still desire high quality products and low cost, they prefer to do business with social responsible companies.
According to the Cone Cause Evolution Survey, the number of consumers who say they would switch from one brand to another if the other brand associated with a good cause is just under 90 percent.
Also known as social responsibility, cause marketing began in the late 1970s by brands such as Nike, Marriott Corporation and American Express. In contrast to traditional forms of marketing, these companies connected their brands and products to social causes and were rewarded with an unprecedented growth and consumer loyalty.
There are many benefits to cause marketing. You don’t have to be a giant corporation to take advantage of it. Practically anyone can take advantage of this form of marketing, regardless of whether you are a brick and mortar business, online retailer, or in the service industry. Cause marketing can boost sales while improving the public’s impression of your brand. Thus, if you want to stay competitive in today's world, “cause marketing” should be an essential part of your marketing strategy.
How To Start A Cause-Marketing Campaign
Cause-marketing campaigns often start with selecting the right affiliation. The most successful campaigns demonstrate an obvious relationship between the cause and the business. For example: in 1980, I created the “Safe Ride Home” for my personal injury law firm client. The program promoted free rides home on New Year’s Eve to prevent drinking and driving. In addition to gaining thousands of dollars in free publicity, the campaigned transformed the law firm’s image from “ambulance chasers” to "caring neighbors." Another example: When Procter & Gamble's Olay brand skin-care line partnered with the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, its campaign goal was to inspire women to protect their skin from the sun. This campaign was a winner in more ways than one for P & G.
Recently, companies from General Motors and Facebook to Lowe’s and Crocs have made the news for stepping up to help frontline workers, small business owners and other Americans during the pandemic. Have you thought about what your business could do to help others on a local, regional, or national basis?
It’s important to note that social responsibility marketing probably won’t work if your company chooses an obscure cause or one that does not make sense with your brand.
How To Choose A Cause
It is best to choose a cause that you and your employees feel passionate about; nothing diminishes the good feelings of associating with a cause if the attempt to make a difference is half-hearted. The general public can see through a marketing strategy that is primarily for profit versus one that is truly philanthropic.
Promoting Cause Marketing
Now that you have chosen your cause, it is time to think about the best way to spread the word. While advertising on TV, radio, print and online may seem like the obvious answer, don’t overlook a solid public relations (PR) campaign. In the case of the above Procter & Gamble’s Olay Brand campaign, the PR yielded widespread media recognition on TV, radio, print and online, helping the program attract more than 9,000 individuals for free skin-cancer screenings.
While millennials make over half of their purchases online, only 6% of them think that online advertising is credible. Another reason why adding PR to your marketing mix just makes sense. Additionally, a well-targeted social media campaign that explains how your business is helping a cause can get a lot of positive awareness, quickly and inexpensively.
Finally, as with any marketing strategy, you need to communicate trust and transparency among your audience. Now more than ever, many consumers have less money in their pockets and as a result are more mindful about how they spend it. Thus, before you start your cause marketing campaign, may sure the cause is something your consumers truly care about. Remember, it shouldn’t be about creating a cause simply to sell products; cause marketing should really be about authentically spreading the word about the initiatives that are important to your company’s mission and its customers.
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