We are all familiar with the warm and fuzzy feeling we get when we toss a few quarters in the collection bucket for a good cause. Your business can benefit financially from supporting a good cause as well.
Cause marketing refers to a type of marketing involving the cooperative efforts of a for-profit business and a nonprofit organization for mutual benefit. In this post, I’ll share how your business can benefit from a cause marketing strategy and four steps to establishing one.
Why Care about Cause Marketing?
Before you can understand the need for a cause marketing strategy, you need to understand what American consumers expect from businesses. America’s appetite for corporate involvement in important issues is at an all-time high. Consider these key insights about cause marketing and the American consumer:
- Consumers want to see it. According to a recent Social Impact study from Cone Communications, more than 9 out of 10 people look to companies to support social or environmental issues in some capacity, and 88% are eager to hear from companies about those efforts.
- They will switch brands/providers for it. That same Social Impact study showed that 89% of U.S. consumers would switch brands to one associated with a cause, given comparable price and quality.
- They will pay more for it. A 2014 Nielsen study showed that more than half (55%) of respondents were willing to pay extra for products and services from companies committed to positive social and environmental impact.
- Bonus! It will even help your recruiting. That same Nielsen Study also showed that 67% of people prefer to work for socially responsible companies.
Now you’re convinced, right? Keep reading to learn how to establish a cause marketing strategy for your business.
“No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care” - Theodore Roosevelt
4 Steps to Create an Effective Cause Marketing Strategy
- Pick the cause. Choose from the heart. If you aren’t authentic and committed to the cause you choose, then your marketing efforts around it will likely fall flat. Consider charities and causes that you or your employees are already familiar with or already support. Choose something that you and your team can really get behind and believe in. Choose a relavent cause, which could be something related to your industry or to your local area. For example, a dermatology practice could partner with the The Skin Cancer Foundation, a home builder could partner with Habitat for Humanity, and an accounting firm in Dallas could partner with a local charity dedicated to renovating low-income playgrounds.
- Do more than write a check. Supporting a non-profit by writing a check is definitely a good thing, but more good can be done for your brand if you support them by donating your time and services and really get involved. Not only do you get to support the charity, but you also take the opportunity to showcase what it is that your company does. Ask about events that you can participate in with the charity. This gets your brand in front of more eyes and builds good will in the community. These events also provide opportunities for you to create content for social media and help build a consistent buzz about your business.
- Structure the partnership. For cause marketing efforts to be worthwhile, you need to build a real relationship with the nonprofit that you choose. Sit down with them to discuss shared goals, needs, and opportunities. Identify the best ways to increase the visibility, awareness, and revenue for both parties, and agree to what deliverables each side will be responsible for. Consider the rough monetary value of what your business will be providing and then come up with what you think is fair to get in return—make sure there is mutual benefit. For example: If we're going partner with a nonprofit to help with marketing, we may ask to be included on their website and participate as a sponsor in some of their annual events.
- Spread the word. The final (and possibly most important) step is to spread the word and capitalize on your newfound charitable relationship by mounting a campaign. Consider the different avenues by which you will advertise this relationship. It is best to do this annually when you are creating your overall marketing strategy. The more consistent you are with including your cause-related marketing in all other aspects of your marketing, the more benefit you will see. For bigger companies and nonprofits, this may mean including them in your radio, television, or outdoor advertising. For smaller companies, this could just mean mentioning them regularly in your blog posts and on social media.
Cause marketing is a powerful strategy that will benefit your business as well as the charity you’re supporting. These steps are a good way to start reaping those benefits.