Cause branding
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  • 1. “Cause Branding” Because It Counts By Chelse Benham “The one who adapts his policy to the times prospers, and likewise that the one whose policy clashes with the demands of the times does not.” - Niccolo Machiavelli, statesman and political philosopher, 1469 – 1527 In today’s market similar products have the smallest nuances differentiating them from each other. In a world full of widgets and gadgets consumer purchasing and decision making is becoming inextricably linked to social issues and cause associations. “So many products are similar and corporations need to advertise to improve their image as a company. Cause Related Marketing (CRM) is a way to improve corporate visibility. It has a trickle down effect by building preference for a company in the future,” said Dr. Michael Minor, professor and director of the Ph.D. program at The University of Texas-Pan American’s College of Business Administration. “Visibility and image affects a company’s long term projections, creating an image of the company as a ‘good member in the community.’ We’re in an age where experience and emotions affect how we decide what to purchase or what to watch or where to shop. It comes down to emotional elements that drive us to act in the way we do as consumers. CRM changes consumer impressions of companies and creates customer loyalty,” Minor said. Carol Cone, CEO of Cone, Inc., a strategic marketing communications firm and co-author of the Cone/Roper Report used by the marketing profession and media to evaluate the importance of brand marketing, clearly defines the shift in business. “As we enter the 21st century, it is clear that the integration of social issues and business practices was not a passing fad for the 1990’s,” Cone writes. “but rather the beginning of a fundamental shift in how the world’s leading companies will use cause associations to position their organizations and brands for the future.” Provided that price and quality were equal, 81 percent of Americans would switch brands to support a worthwhile cause, according to the 2001 survey by Cone/Roper. Among those surveyed, 92 percent have a positive opinion of companies that support charitable organizations. The highly respected CONE/ROPER benchmark survey of 2,000 adults found that: 90 percent of workers feel proud of their companies' values when they support a good cause. 87 percent of workers feel a strong sense of loyalty.
  • 2. 83 percent of adults have a more positive image of companies who support a cause. 65 percent would be likely to switch brands or retailers to one associated with a good cause. 61 percent agree that cause marketing should be a standard business practice. Cause related marketing began with American Express in 1983. American Express raised $1.7 million for the renovation of the Statue of Liberty and the company’s account activity rose 28 percent and new card applications rose by 45 percent. The advertisement campaign was the first to use a cause to bring about increase in business activity and spin the company image. Darrell Zahorsky is the founder & CEO of Insightica Research, a company specializing in providing business planning and marketing/sales plans for new companies and small business. Zahorsky writes that cause-related marketing can become the cornerstone of a company’s marketing plan. Activities should highlight the company's reputation within its target market to differentiate the company from its competitors and provide other tangible benefits, including: • increased sales • improved visibility • enhanced company image • positive media coverage • attracts and retains customer loyalty – several studies over the past few years have shown that consumers are drawn to companies that are associated with a social cause or issue. • market differentiation –in a crowded marketplace, Cause Related Marketing (CRM) can help companies distinguish themselves from their peers by offering the consumer the opportunity to contribute to something more than the company’s bottom line. • outreach to niche markets – partnering with nonprofit organizations can help a company to connect with specific demographic or geographic markets. For example, by partnering with Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation in support of the Foundation’s Race for the Cure events, Ford Motor Company successfully positioned itself among a formerly disengaged target market - women. • motivated employees Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) offers some key points to consider when implementing a CRM campaign. Just a few are listed here. Identifying the Right Issue or Cause: While any issue or cause may be suitable for establishing a cause-related marketing relationship, many companies seek to find an issue that aligns with the company’s product or services, its market (or potential market) or its geographic community.
  • 3. Selecting the Right Partner: It is important that both the company and the nonprofit fully understand each other’s goals and objectives, as well as their mutual commitment to the relationship. In addition, it is important to consider: o The organization’s reputation and public perception in the company’s target market/audience. o The organization’s potential to become involved with controversial political or social issues that may reflect negatively on its corporate partner. o The organization’s leadership and financial management. o The organization’s standing with local and national regulators, taxing authorities, Better Business Bureau and other government and non-governmental “watchdog” groups. Establishing the Relationship: The company and the nonprofit organization should have a clear understanding of the nature of the relationship and the specifics of the marketing campaign. • Checking the Legalities: Some key items are worth checking with a lawyer. For example: o Does the company have a formal agreement with the charity that gives it permission to use its name? o Does the promotion meet all local and national laws and regulations? o Is the company shielded from liability resulting from wrongdoing by the nonprofit organization? Communicating the Partnership Message: Critical to the CRM campaign is communicating the message. The most effective cause-related marketing campaigns are those that are simple, clear and compelling to their target audiences. If companies are having difficulty finding an organization to support they can visit JustGive.org where more than 850,000 U.S. nonprofits are registered with the Internal Revenue Service. Another excellent cause closer to home is The University of Texas-Pan American’s University Scholars Program. The University Scholars Program began in 1998 to promote academic excellence in high schools and provides full four-year tuition and fee scholarships to qualified incoming freshmen. “Our main focus is to get funds for The University Scholars Program,” said Candi Roxas, executive director for the Development Office at The University of Texas- Pan American. “The program encourages higher education among Valley youth by making it easier to attend college. Ultimately, by producing more graduates
  • 4. from UTPA that remain in the Valley, we’re having an enormous impact on the community.” Caring and compassion for one’s community is the objective of “cause branding.” It’s a win-win situation. More businesses believe in giving back, whether it’s supporting higher education through scholarships or supporting a nonprofit organization with a nice check. Cause related interactions between businesses and nonprofit organizations help to provide greater social awareness and support. It’s proving to be the next major shift in business practices. “You can buy a person's hands but you can't buy his heart. His heart is where his enthusiasm and his loyalty are.” -- Stephen Covey, author of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” a national best-seller by the New York Times, having sold more than 12 million copies in 32 languages and 75 countries throughout the world.