Cause-related marketing: Why you need it and how to do it right

Alistair Roque Published on March 3, 2015

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Although a relatively young concept, cause related marketing has successfully become a popular marketing approach for some of today s biggest brands. Over the years, consumers have witnessed an increasing number of companies choosing to stand for a charitable cause.

From brands that place pink ribbons on their products to those that partner with famous celebrity ambassadors, there seems to be no sign of cause marketing leaving the world of advertising anytime soon. But more than just promoting the welfare of others, what do cause marketers really gain from being socially responsible? How can jumping on the cause marketing bandwagon affect your brand?

What cause marketing can do

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Cause marketing happens when a for-profit business partners with a non-profit organization to raise funds for a specific cause. Cause marketing campaigns are not just simple calls for donation. Companies that engage in this type of marketing aggressively announce to the public that they are doing something for the same causes that their customers are interested in.

Both the for-profit and non-profit organizations are expected to benefit from the stronger public profiles and higher profits that they gain from their combined resources. People essentially buy from brands that do good. When customers purchase something that is labeled as charitable or sold for a cause, they feel good about being able to help others through ordinary means. This is what experts call shopping with a conscience.

When a brand strives to become socially responsible, its values and willingness to help promote good causes influences of its customer loyalty. In fact, by choosing not to stand for something charitable, you may even lose customers to your competitors. This is supported by the 2013 Cone Communications Social Impact Study which revealed that a whopping 89% of American customers, given comparable pricing and quality, are willing to switch brands and choose companies that are associated with a cause.

Making cause marketing work for your brand

When choosing to adopt a cause marketing strategy, you need to become aware of the risk of looking hypocritical. Modern customers are wise enough to know if you are just using the partnership for commercial ends. To avoid looking insincere or self-serving, choose a cause that is highly relevant to your brand. You can t just partner with a random nonprofit organization without ensuring that you share the same audiences. In other words, choose a cause that is essential for your customers without departing from your core brand message.

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The extent of your involvement in the advocacy also matters. Don t just write a check and expect your non-profit partner to do all the dirty work. If you truly value a particular cause, get involved in many ways. Research about your prospective partner and the cause you’re advocating. Issue press releases, monitor the campaign from start to finish, and make sure the projected results are achieved.

Cause marketing should never be a desperate attempt to achieve social relevance. If you are just partnering with a non-profit organization to achieve credibility, you might want to go back to the actual reasons why you are lacking credibility. Invest in cause marketing because your entire team believes in the cause and your customers are affected by it. When you fight for something that your employees and clients truly believe in, the end goals of your cause marketing plans will be met.

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