Brand image is everything in today’s highly competitive business environment and 24/7 information cycle. Regardless of your industry, you need a brand strategy to stand out among the noise and capture customers’ attention.
In 2020, beauty company The Body Shop made a decision to start a campaign to thank healthcare workers for their commitment during the Covid-19 pandemic. The initiative called ”Time To Care” included partnering with shelters and assisted living communities to donate cleansing supplies, like body and hand soap to those critical workers. This is a great example of cause-related marketing.
SO WHAT IS CAUSE MARKETING?
Defined by Wikipedia, “cause marketing is marketing done by a for-profit business that seeks to both increase profits and to better society in accordance with corporate social responsibility, such as by including activist messages in advertising.”
Cause marketing is a great way for any company to enhance the perception of the brand. Back in the 80’s, when I was working for a personal injury law firm, it was one of my biggest challenges and successes to elevate the company’s image from “ambulance chasers” to “lawyers who care.” This involved a two part strategy including running testimonial ads and introducing the law firm’s “Safe Ride Home” campaign offering free cab rides between Christmas and New Year’s Eve to prevent drinking and driving.
Additionally to improving a brand’s image and customer loyalty, cause-related marketing is an excellent opportunity for free publicity. Remember the old adage: “Pay for advertising and pray for publicity.” Depending on your market size, free publicity can translate into thousands and even hundreds of thousands of free mentions by the media and the internet.
The history of cause marketing, like most things that we do not personally see can be debated. What we do know, is that historians say it began in the 1970’s when Bruce Burtch organized fundraisers between the Marriott Corporation and the March of Dimes. However, I believe it dates back to the 60’s with the first Jerry Lewis Telethon for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. During the telethon corporate executives stood on stage with gigantic checks pledging large sums of money to “Jerry’s Kids.”
Regardless of who, when, or where it began, cause marketing is here to stay. Some of the more recent examples include:
The Ad Council’s transmedia campaign asking internet users to use the hashtag #LoveHasNoLabels to tag their photos. The video went viral and accumulated over 40 million views. Thousands of social network users also add a graphic overlay to their personal photos to show support for equality.
One that also quickly comes to mind is “Small Business Saturday” launched by American Express back in 2010 to support small, local businesses. IN 2012, approximately 73 million people went out to shop at small businesses, and over 1,0000 neighborhoods signed up to support the day in 2013.
Another highly visible cause-marketing campaign was launched in 2012 by the New York’s 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation to promote over 30,000 nonprofit organizations around the world. Held annually after Cyber Monday and Black Friday, #GivingTuesday continues to raise funds for charitable organizations around the world.
What do these three campaigns have in common? Longevity. If you are going to create a cause-related marketing campaign, it is important to pick a cause that you are passionate about and one that makes sense for your brand. If there is no connection between your cause and brand, consumers may be confused and worse, they may see it as your company exploiting a cause of free publicity. Thus doing just the opposite of a successful cause marketing campaign.
If you have questions or what to brainstorm about developing a cause marketing campaign for your brand, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow me on Instagram and facebook.
Starting a business is not something you should do on a whim. It takes more than just a great idea. It requires careful planning, a financial investment, and a significant amount of time. Not to mention critical thinking, attention to detail, tremendous focus, and the ability to stay motivated.
Most small business owners start a business based on their personal interests. For example: a person who loves gardening is not guaranteed to succeed owning a flower shop. The same is true for someone who collects baseball cards and wants to open a sports memorabilia store.
So before you jump in with both feet, do yourself a favor, and ask yourself the following questions, first.
Questions To Ask Before Becoming A Business Owner
What type of business do you want to own?
Will you need retail space or do you plan to sell your products or services online?
Who are your prospective customers and how will you let them know about your business?
Having a clear niche and knowing your customer demographics will make it easier to market your business. Generally speaking, a company that sells perfumes or candles would market their brand to females, while a hardware store’s most likely customers would be males.
Who is your competition?
Sometimes competition is good; but if you're competing for the same fish in a small pond, you may be fighting a losing battle. Sure, you could lower your price to out-sell your competitor(s) but smaller margins requires more sales volume. Just look at the ads for car sales. Almost all of the dealer ads promote special sale prices.
Do you need commercial space or can you do your business from home or online?
What makes your business unique and better than your competition?
This usually comes down to the 4 P’s of business: product, price, place, and promotion. Note: The most successful businesses are those that solve a problem for their customers. Amazon is a great example — from its free shipping, to its vast array of products, and competitive prices.
How many people do you need to run your business?
At first, you may start as a solopreneur and think that you can do it all. This may be true but if you truly want to grow your business, you will need to either clone yourself or hire help.
How much time are you willing to devote to your business?
If you think a 9 - 5 job is hard. Think again. Entrepreneurs work long hours and sometimes 7 days a week, especially in the start-up phase.
Can you afford to hire staff?
Are you comfortable carrying debt? Can you afford to start a business and still pay your monthly bills?
Remember, most businesses take at least three years before they turn a profit. Be sure you set realistic expectations for your business. Otherwise, you will be in for disappointment, frustration, and potentially greater debt.
How much money will you need to start your business? Where will you get your start-up capital?
How many clients or sales will you need in order to break even?
If you are thinking about starting a consulting business, you can get away with a minimal investment by working from home. Once you have a few clients under your belt, you might consider renting office space.
If you are planning a brick and mortar business, your budget should include rent, insurance, inventory, display cases, office equipment, and employees along with marketing expenses (business cards, signage, a website, advertising, etc.).
Putting the financial aspects of business ownership aside, you should also consider your entrepreneurial type. Are you a Creator, Builder or Operator?
As a self-described serial entrepreneur, I am definitely a Creator type. I love the process of establishing a business and have started and sold three before my 45th birthday. I also created a business plan for a national magazine, only to realize after reviewing my in-depth 3-year business plan that I was not the Operator type. I simply could not commit the time or energy necessary to build this million dollar business.
If you are thinking about starting your own business and have questions or would like an opinion on your idea, feel free to email me at email@example.com.
You can also follow me at Schoner Communications on Facebook and Instagram.
Should you decide to start a business, please let me know. I’d love to hear about it.
If you haven’t followed the whole Clubhouse mania, this article is a good introduction to it. In short, here’s what you need to know: Clubhouse is a new social medium, invite-only, and exclusive to iOS device-users, which fosters audio-only discussion on pretty much any topic.
You can join rooms (think audio panels) as a listener, and if you have a question or want to speak, you “raise your hand.” This kind of mirrors the good old radio experience, where you’d call in to tell your funny anecdote or ask a question.
You can also schedule and host your own session (a “room”), follow other users, or even create a “club” if you plan on regularly hosting sessions.
I myself joined around a month ago, and have joined several rooms around publishing and book marketing, where I’ve often been invited to speak. like the audio-only experience, which also allows you to be productive and do things on the side (cooking, cleaning, walking, etc).
But the thing that makes Clubhouse particularly enjoyable right now is that it’s still very much a new social medium. The early adopter sweet spot If you experienced the early days of Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, you probably remember those fondly. When a new social medium gains traction, it gets to a sweet spot where there are enough people on it to make discussions and interaction interesting — but not so much that you get swamped or lost in a sea of noise.
That’s the sweet spot where Clubhouse currently is. You may start a room as a completely unknown person and still get dozens or even hundreds of listeners in — just because there aren’t that many rooms yet competing for attention.
If you write non-fiction on a specific, niche topic, you could create (or join) the first Clubhouse club on that topic, regularly organize or participate in rooms, and quickly establish yourself as a “Clubhouse influencer” on that topic. Such is the advantage that early adopters of any new social media enjoy.
Is this going to last? Probably not. As it grows, it’ll become more and more difficult to get any attention there, as most topics will already have several established clubs (did you see how many clubs I’m already mentioning above for indie authors?)
So should you join Clubhouse while it’s time? Well, that depends…
Is Clubhouse for you? First, if your goal is to leverage Clubhouse as a way to reach readers, you may want to rethink that.
So far from what I’ve seen, Clubhouse has been great for exchanging information, more so than art. I don’t doubt that numerous book clubs will emerge on Clubhouse (if they haven’t already), but those will be created and moderated by readers directly — there’s not much you can do there as an author (unless they invite you to come speak, of course).
That said, Clubhouse is currently an unparalleled opportunity to network with fellow authors (indie or traditional), or even reach agents and publishers (who often host rooms about querying and submitting).
But the question is not whether authors should be on Clubhouse right now — it’s about whether you should be. And the answer is simple: it depends on whether you enjoy it.
And that’s the main point I want to make today: you should not force yourself to be active on any social medium if you don’t genuinely enjoy it. It will be a waste of both time and creative energy.
Remember, you can’t build a following on a social medium if you don't interact with other users and share the kind of genuine content that works on that specific platform. Believe me, this isn’t something you can fake. People will see right through it — more importantly, you'll get bored after a few days, because you won't feel comfortable on the platform.
So my advice for Clubhouse — and for any new social medium that will emerge in the future — is to:
If you figure out that it’s not for you, forget about it (and ignore the people who try to force you on it).
If you are interested in connecting with me, here is my clubhouse profile: https://clubber.one/@ricardofayet. I'll be looking forward to meeting you on Clubhouse one day.
This article was written by Richardo Fayet, Reedsy Co-Founder by day. By night: book marketing consultant specializing in promoting commercial fiction series through Facebook. Amazon, and Clubhouse.