Cause marketing and business

One of the questions that many businesses ask is how they approach corporate social responsibility.

This doesn’t just mean donations to local (or national/international) charities; it also starts at home too, and that means with the people around you.

However, another way that companies can become more socially responsible is via cause marketing, which is becoming a lot more mainstream and visible.

Some figures from IAB show why cause marketing is becoming something business can’t ignore any longer:

  • 71% of consumers are giving as much (or more) as they were before the economy dipped.
  • 87% of consumers would switch brands to deal with companies associated with good causes.
  • 50% of consumers would pay more from brands associated with good causes.

As you can see, cause marketing isn’t just good business ethics, it’s good business sense too. But you need to make sure that it’s for the right reason.

The Because of Cause Marketing

Consumers are smart. Everything needs to be “just so” if you want to win their business, and that increasingly means having more than just the cheapest prices or nicest-looking product.

If you’re looking to increase your awareness to consumers via cause marketing, there needs to be a genuine “because” behind the cause.

  • Is the cause relevant to you and your brand? No-one likes bandwagon jumpers, especially when it comes to charities and good causes. Picking a charity that doesn’t align with your company ethic could be seen as a sign you’re just using cause marketing for profit dollars.
  • Are you a hopper or a stayer? Any worthy cause will tell you that while short-term fixes help, long-term change is where the real needs lie. Invest in your cause marketing for the long-term; grow a relationship with the cause – build and support.
  • Are you engaging your employees? A solid social responsibility plan should be including your employees to start with. Make sure they’re fully engaged with your cause marketing efforts; involve at every step and look for feedback on how to improve constantly.
  • Why this particular cause? Yes, it’s relevant to your business, but why your chosen one over many others like it? Be clear why you’re supporting; be clear where the dollars are going; be clear what change can be made; and be clear why the need to help now.

Local or (Inter)National

The main question many businesses ask themselves is whether they should be supporting local or national/international causes. Ideally, you’d be able to support both initiatives, which would benefit everyone. But we know ideally doesn’t always cut it.

A lot can come down to your bandwidth.

  • Do you have the resources to properly support a national/international campaign?
  • Is your customer/client base local or national/international?
  • Are there local projects that you can make a big difference to with your support?
  • Is your local community one that can work with a cause marketing mindset?

The answers to these questions, and more like them, can help you decide whether you invest locally or further afield. But again, make sure it’s for the right reasons and not simply to make you look good for a while.

Marketing is one of the most important aspects of any business. Cause marketing is joining the fray as an equally important part of your ongoing plans, especially in the eyes of your customers.

How’s your business stacking up?

image: Portrait Artist – Enzie Shahmiri

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    • says

       @annelizhannan Thanks, Anneliz – the funny thing is, it doesn’t take much to do things right, just a little foresight. Have a great weekend!

  1. says

    Very interesting post Danny. I think it depends on how wide is your market where you send the money, if it’s local then in your neighbourhood, if it’s worldwide then I would say local plus international. Local comes always first, imho. My choice would be Greenpeace, they stand their words in first person and not sending someone else to do the job and they are not so money driven. I guess Greenpeace CEO doesn’t earn millions of dollars per year nor travels only in luxury hotels. Plus I’ve always admired how their little boats stand fiercely against big whalers. If this is not an example of standing for your ideas and what you believe is right I don’t know what else it is.
    One point to consider though is how a business treats its employees, if they aren’t happy then it’s just a PR move, imho. :)

    • says

       @Andrea T. H. W. I recall seeing the little Greenpeace boat going up against the Japanese whaler, mate – true David and Goliath images!
      But that’s sobering reminder about employees – I’ve known businesses to have a great external social change policy, but treat their employees like crap. You have to have the consistency across the board.

  2. geoffliving says

    Very timely post, Danny. I’m working on a major cause marketing initiative right now, and used these stats.

    • says

       @geoffliving Hey there mate,
      Knowing the info came in useful for someone of your stature in the space is validation enough for me – cheers, sir!

    • says

       @wmwebdes Haha, I’ll take Ziggy anytime, mate – this one’s a keeper, I’ve been looking for a full site/blog mix for a while and this one, I like. :)
      Cheers, mate!

      • says

        Choosing the right WordPress themes is a little like clues in murder mysteries… you don’t know what you’re looking for, but you know when you’ve found it.
        I think you’ve found it Danny.

  3. says

    I used to work for a cause marketing agency and I loved it because there was something rewarding in knowing that every day I could help give back a little bit.

  4. joewaters says

    Hey Danny,
    Nice post. I’ve written on this topic before and you and your readers might appreciate the insights.
    “How to Choose a Cause for Cause Marketing”

    The key for any business is to pick a cause they really care about. But there are other factors to consider. I’m also struck in meeting with business owners that many don’t have a cause that truly resonates with them. I have checklist for dealing with this.