March 31, 2014
/ by Erin Feldman
Joe Waters says that cause is the future. Businesses will no longer be defined as “social” or “antisocial”; they will all be social because customers expect it of them. Businesses will have to be involved, in some form or fashion, in the constructing of a better world through social good.
That construction most often occurs through cause marketing, which Joe defines as a partnership between a nonprofit and a for-profit for mutual profit. The relationship is one of both win-win and work-work. The cause and the business both have to have skin in the game in order to reap the rewards.
The reward for the cause or nonprofit is raised money and awareness. The benefit for the business is a competitive edge beyond product and price. The edge is one of “likability”; according to Cone Communications, 64 percent of consumers would pay more for a brand that supports a cause.
Businesses see that statistic and hear their customers’ desires for involvement with a cause, but many of them lose their way when trying to identify and choose a cause. It’s an understandable confusion. At last count, the United States was home to 1.5 million charities.
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In order to choose a cause, Joe recommends the following four tips:
Businesses have to have a “passion cause.” For example, Wendy’s supports the Dave Thomas Foundation. The fast-food restaurant could have supported any social issue, but it chose to raise awareness about adoption because of its personal ties to it
Joe says it doesn’t do to focus too much on generally supported causes when it comes to this point. The issue or cause has to have genuine ties to the for-profit. It’s only by choosing a meaningful cause that the business can hope to make an impact for it and gain a competitive edge in the marketplace.
Joe says businesses have to “care strategically”; that is, businesses have to choose an organization or cause that can drive people back to them.
A brewery in Worcester discovered its army almost accidentally. The business decided to craft and sell a special beer to raise funds for a fallen firefighter. The beer was lauded so much within the firefighter community that the brewery continues to make it and to send a portion of the profits to other families of fallen firefighters in the local area.
A cause has to resonate emotionally because it is emotions that sell and are memorable. People buy Hallmark cards not because the cards are inexpensive but because the cards are tied to commercials with endearing stories. The same goes for a business promoting a cause. The cause has to have a story that the business can tell.
For instance, K-Mart partnered with St. Jude’s and raised $22 million for the cause. Was some of that money due to the pinup program used to raise funds? No doubt, but it’s equally true that the cause, with its images of kids from St. Jude’s, struck an emotional chord with K-Mart buyers.
Sometimes, a business and its cause align exactly. An example is the partnership between The Vitamin Shoppe and Vitamin Angels. It’s a great match, but, more than that, it’s a cause that’s cared about; has a built-in army; and has strong emotional appeal.
Joe advises that businesses not place too much attention on this point. While it’s great to find a cause that aligns with the business, it’s better to partner with one that has personal meaning or an existing army. The personal connection or the army will generate the emotion needed to raise dollars.
Want more about cause marketing? Get your free Vocus Cause Marketing guide now!
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