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Making a Difference with Cause Marketing

Making a Difference with Cause Marketing

It’s no secret there are an endless amount of causes that need our attention today. And while governments and non-profits are certainly doing their best to address many of them, these challenges span far too wide to tackle alone. Meanwhile, in the marketing sector, consumers today are looking to frequent businesses that stand for something. Studies have shown that millennials, in particular, are more likely to give their trust and loyalty to a brand that uses its resources to make a positive social impact. Enter cause marketing.

Those in the industry have long suggested cause marketing as a way for brands to “do well while doing good,” but how do you get started? How do you balance altruism with what’s healthy for your business? And what actually makes an impact for that matter? The following are some general guidelines for how to implement cause marketing in a way that fits your business’ size and resources:

1. Be Authentic.

Just like with all branding efforts, if your actions don’t align with your brand’s personality or offerings, your efforts may fall flat (or at least cause confusion). Look for causes that make sense to your organization or even address a problem enabled by your industry. AT&T’s “It Can Wait” campaign encourages drivers to take a pledge, vowing not to text and drive. To date, they have over 25 million participants and have become an active part of the conversation when it comes to mobile devices and driver safety.

2. Set Goals.

People want to see actions over words. And for that matter, no doubt you also want the reassurance of knowing you’re making some kind of difference. Whatever the size or reach of your organization, it’s best to clearly define your goals—both internally and externally—and make sure the consumer knows their role.

A perfect example of this is Stella Artois’ campaign through Water.org. Known for its gold-rimmed chalices, the company developed a line of hand-crafted editions inspired by Mexico, India and the Philippines. For each limited edition chalice sold, the profits are donated to these countries to supply one person with five years of clean water. Not only is the impact of this campaign immediately evident for the organization, but the participating consumer can know definitively how their money is being used.

3. Partner Up.

While unique ideas and programs can be exciting, there are many times where recreating the wheel is not the most efficient approach. Likely, most of your expertise likely lies in how to run your particular business, not philanthropic processes. So consider partnering with an organization who specializes in a cause you care about. No doubt your involvement will empower them to continue their efforts and your time or donation will have a far greater reach.

Over the past nine years, Subaru’s “Share the Love” events have generated funds for Meals On Wheels, allowing Subaru and their retailers to help deliver over 1.7 million meals to seniors! The amount of time and money it would have taken to generate a program like this on their own might never have seen such an impact.

4. Think Long-Term.

While a donation or one-time event can be beneficial in the moment, no doubt you’ll be wondering what to do the following year. By thinking long-term, and looking for sustainable programs, you’ll have the opportunity to build on your efforts from years past—creating a cumulative effect for maximum impact. Plus, your audience will begin to anticipate and expect this from you each year, further emphasizing your association with a charitable cause and overall goodwill for the brand.

For the last four years, Walgreens has participated in the Red Nose Day campaign, selling exclusive red noses, pins, pens, and buttons for the world famous day started by Comic Relief USA—a non-profit organization which uses the power of entertainment to drive positive change. With each year building off of the last, they’ve become known as your one-stop shop for Red Nose Day supplies, effectively helping raise over $100 million for children.

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