Unlocking the Benefits of Cause Marketing: How Brands Can Do Good and Do Well
As every year passes, it seems that our world becomes more consumer focused. People buy more things and spend more money. They also show their loyalty to a particular cause or brand by merchandise they sport, especially on social media (i.e., posting a picture of them in a pink “breast cancer awareness” hat or with a locally sourced reusable tote bag instead of plastic grocery bags). Thus, businesses are embracing cause marketing as a way to flex their consumer influence to support the greater good. They are also seeing the positive effects of aligning with certain causes, such as helping them connect with their shoppers on a deeper level above and beyond transactions and maintaining a positive brand image. This has been shown to help increase customer loyalty and make businesses stand out from their competition.
have Since price competition is so easily researched, people can find multiple products of the same quality and about the same price point. When they know that one company over the other holds the same values or supports particular causes, they’re likely to choose the brand that is authentically supporting a cause or non-profit.
Businesses and companies are run by people, and people care about issues that affect the world. So it makes sense that companies would want to engage in cause-related marketing. However, no matter the intention, it’s critical to understand cause-related marketing so that it can be done right to preserve a positive image as well as to maintain successful business practices.
A cause marketing campaign is beneficial on multiple levels. People care about social responsibility, and brands know that their customers expect them to put good out into the world. Consumers have choices (a plethora of them) of where to put their money, and many people will let the almighty dollar do the talking when it comes to showing their values. These are just some of the benefits of cause marketing—as your business engages in its own cause marketing campaign, you might find even more positive effects.
Benefits of Cause Marketing
Your company or business might find that some or all of these benefits of cause marketing apply to your situation.
Positive Brand Image
Of course, every good marketing campaign has a foundation in putting out a positive brand image for the company or product. If you have a product that competes with many others for market share space, then you can set yourself apart by associating yourself with a cause. Consumers see your business as one that cares about doing good and that doesn’t put profits over positivity.
Cause marketing is one of the best ways to show yourself as a pillar of your community. Not only do you show that your focus isn’t just on you at the top, but you allow the people in your community to get involved when you support smaller events, invite people to participate in fundraisers, programs, and engagements that support your cause, and more.
Loyal Customer Base and Revenue Growth
When factoring for equality in other elements such as price, quality, and availability, research shows that people will choose a brand that is connected to a cause they agree with. Thus, a company can reach more people and get its name out there while ensuring that customers continue to come back to them time after time. When people feel good about what they’re purchasing, they’re likely to purchase it repeatedly and show off their goods, as well as tell others about the company—in essence, doing your marketing for you. Both a loyal customer base and increased revenue from these loyal customers keep companies profitable.
Research shows that employees are happier when they are a part of something more than just their day-to-day drudgery work. When their employer supports a cause, they can feel good about giving their time and energy to that place. They want to be connected to an organization that is doing good because then they feel that they are doing good as well.
Uniqueness in a Generalized World
Fast fashion, fast food, fast shipping… everyone wants something “yesterday” and they have plenty of places to find it at the right price. However, there are plenty of critical consumers out there who care about giving their money to businesses that stand apart from the crowd. Choosing cause marketing makes you unique. Sure, many companies do it—but there are far more who don’t. Which side do you want to be on?
Potential Risks of Cause Marketing
Although there are so many benefits of cause marketing, it’s not always perfect. It can be tricky to get right and there are sometimes downfalls. Knowing these potential problems upfront is the best way to avoid struggles later on.
If your audience only thinks that you’re engaging in cause marketing so that you can increase profits, they’ll begin to turn away from you because they see right through your shallow efforts.
Another cause for concern is if your partnering organization does something unethical, controversial, or harmful. So, be careful who you choose and make sure they’re well-vetted.
Cause marketing is almost always an investment, too. Make a financial plan for how much time and money will be invested into your marketing campaigns so that you aren’t losing money at every turn.
Tips and Tricks to Get Cause Marketing Right
As your company plans its cause marketing campaign, make sure that you’re implementing some of these tips so that it has the most impact on your customers, community, competitive edge, and profit margins.
Choose a Related Cause
You might think that any cause marketing is good cause marketing. However, choosing something that isn’t related to your market field could give off the impression that you’re simply grasping at straws to make a good impression—which, ironically, makes a negative one.
Check for Aligned Values
Every company and cause has values that they stand for. Maybe you’re a sporting goods company that has chosen to align itself with an organization that puts sports into low-income neighborhoods. But if this organization focuses on one gender over the other, and your business is about gender equality, then that probably won’t come off the way you want it to.
Get Employees on Board
We already discussed how cause marketing helps to increase employee morale. Your employees will have even more incentive to engage in your related marketing campaigns when they believe in the cause themselves, too! If you haven’t yet chosen a marketing partner, poll your employees first. What are the things that they would like to give a voice to?
Think Outside the Checkbook
Of course, the easiest way to donate to a cause is by giving money. However, you can show that you have even more of a focus on your related marketing partnership by donating products, time, and talents toward your chosen organization, too. If you’re a clothing company, maybe you could host a fashion show for under-resourced kids and then give out bags of your tops, shoes, or outfits. If you’re a bakery, hold a cooking class and teach nutrition in the kitchen.
Ask Your Cause Partner What They Need
Perhaps you have a couple of ideas about how you’d like to move forward with your marketing campaign and how you’d like your business to come across. It’s critical that you get the same information from the nonprofit, too, because they have related marketing needs and you each want to benefit the other.
Solid Examples of Successful Cause Marketing
Businesses of all types have shown success through cause marketing. Their marketing campaigns all looked a bit different, but they gained new customers, encouraged consumer loyalty, increased brand awareness and positivity, and gave back to their communities at the same time.
- Soles4Soles – This company collects extra shoes from warehouses and customer closets and donates them to over 127 countries worldwide. They’ve partnered with high-profile companies such as BOBS and Nine West for positive marketing.
- Macy’s – Macy’s chose to turn donations into profits by marketing $5 “coupon donations” through multiple organizations. Each coupon was worth a 25% discount on purchases. The nonprofits kept each $5 donation and Macy’s saw millions of dollars in increased sales.
- PetSmart – PetSmart started its own charity to raise money for homeless pets. Their marketing effort is easy—each customer gets asked if they want to donate at checkout.
Tools of the Trade
Don’t recreate the wheel on your marketing campaigns! There are plenty of ways that technology and social media can help you create effective marketing without hundreds of hours of effort on the part of your team.
Daily Karma is an app-based program that lets you identify your cause and search through a database of over 1.6 million charities. You can choose the type of marketing campaign you’re going for, such as a portion of sales, donation tiers, or donation matching. The best part about Daily Karma is that 100% of the donations given by your customers are sent directly to your chosen nonprofit. It’s authentic, connecting customers with your mission the entire way. Plus, you can even track your success during the entire cause-related mission.
Alter Your Posts to Your Platforms
Use social media to your advantage! Think about the platforms that your audience uses the most. Are they millennials who are moving over to TikTok and away from Instagram? Or are they older customers who still strictly use Facebook? Whatever it is, get to know your platform and the way that it engages with users. Your marketing efforts will be the most beneficial when you apply each social media platform’s particular algorithms to your marketing campaign.
Assess and Track Your Efforts
Any marketing effort should be a dynamic program. You don’t want to implement something and just let it run without assessing how it’s working. Establish your goals from the beginning, and then watch closely to see how your marketing efforts are paying off. Is the cause helping bring in customers? How do they see your brand? Are you garnering more of a presence on social media? Are your sales and profits increasing? Use a tracking system (like the one included with Daily Karma or one used by your marketing team) to ensure that everything stays on track. Don’t be afraid to adjust things in the middle of a campaign, either! Every cause-related marketing choice you make should be intentional and geared toward forward movement.
Choosing a marketing campaign that partners you with a nonprofit is one of the best ways to show that you care about your community. It brings in customers, keeps them loyal, and gives your brand a positive leg up compared to the competition. Just make sure that your marketing values are aligned with your chosen organization and that you’re taking steps to make your cause marketing as effective as it can be.
Resources: https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/features/industry-insights/cause-related-marketing-building-good-will-and-business-growth https://info.zimmermarketing.com/blog/the-many-brand-benefits-of-cause-marketing https://www.sitepoint.com/cause-marketing/