Today’s consumers are wielding their buying power to benefit society and the Earth. This sense of “consumer responsibility” outperforms other purchasing motivations such as coupons, discounts, and sales. That’s why cause marketing works.
56 percent of customers report actively searching out and spending extra money on products from companies committed to social value. They’ll also pay more for organic products and those that prove environmentally friendly.
But what is cause marketing, and how can you make it work for your business? Read on for the insider’s guide to cause-related marketing that works.
The Age of Social Responsibility
Whether you’re a marketer or a small business owner, you probably spend a lot of time trying to show potential customers the value of your products and services. It’s at the heart of how you appeal to likely buyers.
But what if I told you that the majority of today’s consumers care more about personal values than personal gain? Customers now buy with their hearts and their consciences first, even if it means spending extra money.
The age of social responsibility is here. If you ignore it, you do so at the peril of your company. People remain more committed than ever before to leaving the world a better place, and they expect brands to feel and act the same way.
The Bigger Picture
In one survey, 86 percent of Americans reported that they expect companies to confront environmental and social issues. Addressing internal problems within a business alone won’t cut it these days. You’ve got to contribute externally.
In fact, cause marketing often represents the number one differentiator between you and your competition. Instead of shrinking away from current events, it’s time to see the bigger picture. Your brand needs to find a cause and promote it.
It will help your company distinguish itself from the competition. And it’ll help you tell your brand’s story. Today’s consumers seek out companies who see and care about the bigger picture.
Cause marketing lets you see the bigger picture. And it lets you share what your company’s doing to make that bigger picture a whole lot more pleasant and socially just.
Two Kinds of Cause Marketing
You may not know this, but when I talk about cause marketing, I’m referring to two different types. Perhaps the most well-known refers to a collaborative effort between a for-profit and non-profit organization.
But cause marketing can also mean a for-profit company whose marketing is based around a charitable or social cause. These two forms should be differentiated from phenomena such as corporate giving and corporate social responsibility.
Corporate giving involves donations that are tax deductible. And corporate social responsibility refers to little more than ensuring compliance in actions that will have a larger positive benefit.
As you can see, cause marketing involves a lot more than just donating money to a great charity or recycling office paper. So, how do you guarantee your cause marketing efforts work?
Successful Cause Marketing
Cause marketing in today’s consumer climate can prove tricky. Your customers are discerning individuals with the internet at their fingertips. They can research the heck out of a claim, so yours better prove authentic and well-thought out.
As I’ve taken a look at campaigns that work and those that don’t over the years, a couple of patterns have jumped out at me. Successful cause marketing efforts involve:
- Finding a cause related to your brand
- Choosing a cause you feel passionate about
- Doing more than throwing money at an issue
- Placing a heavy emphasis on earned and social media
- Collaborating on multiple levels with the non-profit of your choice
What’s so great about the tactics listed above? Let’s unpack them a bit further to see how they help consumers “buy” into a cause marketing campaign.
Cause Marketing that Works
Customers will feel more comfortable getting behind your cause if it’s related in some way to what your brand stands for. For example, would TOMS be as successful if the proceeds from shoe sales went towards donating space heaters?
Companies that support causes they feel strongly about do better, too. So, make sure that you choose a charity that you and your employees can truly get behind. If your staff are all-in, this energy will shine through to your customers.
Throwing money at a cause won’t impress today’s consumers. Instead, they want a company to collaborate with a non-profit, from money to manpower.
Finally, make sure your cause marketing includes multiple channels and a focus on earned and social media.
Americans understand the importance of consumer buying power to effect change. In fact, they use their dollars to reward companies whose values align with their own as well as punish companies whose values don’t.
Every day, American consumers make important buying decisions, and price has little to do with them. Instead, they seek out and purchase from companies who share their commitment to making the world a cleaner, healthier, more just place.
What’s more, consumers share their beliefs about specific brands with others, magnifying their buying power. More than three-quarters of buyers promote socially responsible companies to their friends, family, and peers on a regular basis.
In other words, consumerism has transformed into a means of activism. People put their money and their actions where their heart is. So should your company.
The Cause Marketing Bottom Line
The most exciting aspect of cause marketing remains that it allows your company and your employees to make a significant difference in the world. Cause marketing lets your enterprise work as a driving force for change, and that’s a powerful thing.
To make your cause-related marketing efforts truly successful, aim for creating a purpose-driven program with staying power. Always strive for authenticity, transparency, and sustainable, long-term goals.
This all starts with selecting the right cause. A strategically selected charity will grow over time and evolve into something much bigger than you may now be able to imagine. For example, just think about General Mills’ “Box Tops for Education.”
Marketing Success Stories
Interested in learning more about how to optimize your marketing efforts? From cause marketing to branding, we’ve got you covered.