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How Brands Can Use Cause Marketing For Results


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Once a philanthropic tactic practiced by billion dollar mega-brands, cause marketing has grown to be a key element in the marketing mix for companies and brands of all types and sizes. Download a free copy here:

Published in: Business, News & Politics

How Brands Can Use Cause Marketing For Results

  2. 2. Modern Marketing Partners Cause Marketing 1 How Brands Can Use Cause Marketing for Results Once a philanthropic tactic practiced by billion dollar mega-brands, cause marketing has grown to be a key element in the marketing mix for companies and brands of all types and sizes. Research shows 75% of consumers believe companies should support charities and nonprofits with financial donations, while 61% say they will buy a new brand if it supports a cause they care about1 . This whitepaper will help you to understand what cause marketing is, why it’s good for your business or brand, and how you can implement it effectively. We’ll also share some case studies, and an infographic presenting the latest trends in cause marketing. WHAT IS CAUSE MARKETING? Cause marketing allows companies the opportunity to succeed financially while simultaneously doing something good for the community. Sometimes referred to as cause-related marketing, the Cause Marketing Forum defines cause marketing as “a strategic marketing partnership that pairs a company or brand with a social cause or cause-related organization for mutual benefit2 .” The benefits of these strategic partnerships are varied and include increased sales and customer engagement, as well as brand differentiation in what are often over-crowded markets. 95 percent of college students reported they were less likely to ignore an ad that promotes a brand’s partnership with a cause3 . Compared to other forms of marketing, cause marketing is a relatively cost-effective way for a company to generate positive media coverage. Because cause marketing leverages the assets of two brands (yours and the nonprofit’s), you increase your resources to create shareholder value and broaden your constituency. Cause Marketing
  3. 3. Modern Marketing Partners Cause Marketing 2 Transactional campaigns are when a portion of the consumer’s purchase goes towards a selected charity. Consumers may also be asked for an extra donation after the transaction. Events are probably the most recognizable of cause marketing campaigns. Companies partner with a nonprofit to raise money or supplies for runs, benefit concerts, clothing drives, etc. They also aim to increase awareness and participation. Code/coupon redemption requires consumers to either clip coupons from sponsoring products or go online to enter in verification codes to trigger the donation. Pledge Drives ask consumers to publicly support a specific cause or nonprofit organization. They’ll often be asked to sign a pledge and list themselves as a public supporter. Consumer Engagement gives consumers the ability to create “mini-campaigns” where they nominate and vote for causes they believe should be supported by the company. 1. Transactional Campaigns 2. Events 3. Code/coupon redemption 4. Pledge Drives 5. Consumer Bngagement TYPES OF CAUSE MARKETING
  4. 4. Modern Marketing Partners Cause Marketing 3 6 Tips for Effective Cause Marketing: 1.) Pick your nonprofit partner wisely It’s crucial to partner with a nonprofit that understands the strategic nature behind your partnership. There needs to be the understanding that a successful cause marketing campaign should ensure the mutual benefit of both sides. Your company is more than simply a source of funding and the nonprofit is more than just a way to boost your image. If you both happen to share the same target audience, that will go a long way towards forming a meaningful collaboration. 2.) Integrate the cause into your company culture The cause you’re supporting should tie in seamlessly with your company’s overall mission and values. Consumers are not naïve enough to simply buy into your cause marketing campaign without asking how the cause relates to your product or service. Authenticity and a high level of commitment from the top down are key so talk to your team and find a cause that everyone can feel truly happy about supporting. If stakeholders see that you have fully integrated the values of that cause into your company culture, you have a much higher chance of increasing returns related to your company’s goals. 3.) Give more than just money As mentioned previously, your company can and should give more than just dollars. Think about what your company can offer in addition to financial support. Donating relevant products or services will strengthen the association between your brand and the cause. Another option is to offer a corporate volunteering program. These programs allow employees to volunteer while on the company’s time and have been shown to dramatically improve both employee engagement and satisfaction. 4.) Be transparent, demonstrate impact So the consumer has purchased your product and a portion of the proceeds have gone to your nonprofit partner. Is your interaction with that consumer done? Definitely not. Savvy consumers want to know what you’ve done with their generous donation and whom 2 1 3 45 6
  5. 5. Modern Marketing Partners Cause Marketing 4 you’ve impacted. Avoid jargon that sounds like feel-good nonsense and be as transparent as possible with your results (it’s great PR). Keeping a counter on your website to track funds raised is a good option but you can also get more creative by sharing stories about the campaign’s impact on the community. 5.) Leverage free PR Make sure you’re strategic communications focus more on the cause you’re supporting than your company. If you’ve created a strong connection between the two, this should be enough to generate some fantastic PR. Because you’re associated with a nonprofit, much of the PR you generate will be organic (free) and this buzz will add authenticity and credibility to your campaign. We suggest first making good use of this free publicity but there are also wire distribution sites that will send out your press releases for a fee. PRWeb is a popular general distribution site while others such as CSRwire and 3BLMedia focus exclusively on cause marketing news. Fees range depending on the services you select. 6.) Harness the power of social media Whether you’re just starting your cause marketing campaign or celebrating its success, let the public know about it! Social media is ideal for promoting cause marketing because it gives you the opportunity to connect with those passionate about what you’re doing. Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube are just a few fantastic platforms to reach your audience rather than wait for them to come to you. Create videos that highlight your team’s quality work. Find prominent bloggers who are already talking about this cause and would be excited to hear (and possibly write) about your campaign. Also, don’t forget to connect with the nonprofit as well as their staff and volunteers.
  6. 6. Modern Marketing Partners Cause Marketing 5 Case Studies Below are some case studies of both successful, and unsuccessful cause marketing campaigns. JoinFITE - Kiva and Dermalogica In 2011, a California skin-care producer called Dermalogica partnered with Kiva, a nonprofit connecting donors with microfinance institutions in developing countries to help alleviate poverty. Dermalogica’s founder, Jane Wurwand, created the joinFITE (Financial Independence Through Entrepreneurship) campaign to provide micro loans to women entrepreneurs in low-income areas all over the world. The cause was close to her heart as she dedicated much of her life to creating products to better the lives of her clients - almost exclusively women. Dermalogica worked with Kiva to develop the joinFITE website prompting consumers to enter a code printed on some of Dermalogica’s top-selling products with Dermalogica pledging to donate $1 for every code entered. Dermalogica strengthened the association by branding the products with the joinFITE campaign colors and logo. To date, the campaign has provided microfinance loans to nearly 30,000 female entrepreneurs all around the globe. For more information about joinFITE, visit Lowe’s Toolbox for Education - Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation Lowe’s Toolbox for Education is an initiative that provides grants for K-12 public educational projects in the communities where their stores are located. Funded projects include library renovations, safety improvements, playgrounds, and other outdoor facilities. Lowe’s chose not to partner with a single nonprofit but instead formed the Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation to partner with several nonprofits including Habitat for Humanity, Rebuilding Together and the American Red Cross.
  7. 7. Modern Marketing Partners Cause Marketing 6 Forming a foundation is an option for larger companies who have the time and resources to manage the funds in addition to raising them. Toolbox for Education has been successful in donating more than $34 million in grants since its inception in 2006. The campaign fits well with Lowe’s overall corporate mission of “being a good neighbor” and bettering the communities it serves. For more information about Lowe’s Toolbox for Education, visit Buckets for the Cure - KFC and Susan G. Komen for the Cure In 2010, Kentucky Fried Chicken partnered with the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a nonprofit organization focused on funding community initiatives and research for breast cancer. “Buckets for the Cure” pledged to donate 50 cents for every pink bucket of chicken sold in the US with the ultimate goal of reaching $8 million. Within days of launching, the campaign received criticism for creating an association between breast cancer research and something as unhealthy as fried chicken. Many argued that maintaining a healthy diet was crucial for those battling cancer and the campaign was sending a mixed message to consumers. Termed “pinkwashing”, KFC was accused of trying to slap a pink ribbon on something unhealthy to increase sales. In the end, KFC donated millions to Susan G. Komen for the Cure but both brands had damage done to their reputations. Rather than focusing on the purpose of the campaign, KFC spent more time defending their menu of high-calorie fried foods while Komen was viewed as failing to partner with an organization that complemented their overall mission.
  8. 8. Modern Marketing Partners Cause Marketing 7 Cause Marketing 101 Transactional Events Code/Coupon Redemption Cause sponsorship is predicted to reach Corporate Social Responsiblity the importance of of corporations recognize 95% of Americans say they would consumers think companies should address be willing to try a new brand or one unfamiliar to them when it supports a cause61% would try a generic private-label brand46% would be willing to purchase a more expensive brand20% >80% A projected increase of Consumer EngagementPledge Drives Types of Cause Marketing By The Numbers 05 $1.78 billion in 2013 4.8% over 2012 278 MillionAmericans want to know what a company is doing to benefit a cause. Who is using? Influencing Purchasing Behavior The Leading Issues MMP’s 6 Tips For Effective Cause Marketing on their websites. address cause marketing of Fortune 500 companies 41%of Americans say they have purchased a product in the past year because it was associated with a social or environmental cause. 85%have a more positive image of a product or company when it supports a cause they care about. 80%are likely to switch brands, similar in price and quality, to one that supports a cause. 88%say it is acceptable for companies to involve a cause or issue in their marketing. Equal rights/Diversity Access to Clean Water Education Diversity Pick your nonprofit partner wisely Integrate the cause into your company culture Give more than just money Be transparent, demonstrate impact Leverage free publicity Harness the power of social media Sources: Copyright 2013 <> Hunger Economic Development/ Health & Disease Crime/Violence Homelessness/Housing Environment/Disaster Relief 1 2 3 4 5 6 (Zoom - In to enlarge) The Infographic to the right presents the latest trends in cause marketing including what issues consumers think companies should address, and the percentage of companies that are partaking in cause marketing.
  9. 9. Modern Marketing Partners Cause Marketing 8 Modern Marketing Partners is a full service marketing and communications agency based in the Chicago region. MMP supports several nonprofits and associations and implements cause marketing campaigns for clients. To request a complimentary Cause Marketing Analysis, contact Neil Brown at 630-868-5061, or visit our website A Bright Future Cause marketing is arguably a growth market of great potential, with even small and midsize businesses embracing it. Now that you have been supplied with information on what cause marketing is, how to manage it effectively, and what it can do for your business, it’s important to note that cause marketing is not an option for every company. It should certainly never be used as a “last resort” for a company struggling with poor brand image. If stakeholders don’t believe your company is truly committed to the cause you’re supporting, it can actually harm your reputation more than help it. Authenticity is the key here and without it, a cause marketing campaign is ineffective. Additional Resources: 1 Do Well Do Good 2 Cause Marketing Forum 3 Alloy Media + Marketing