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.