Before you can come up with ways to implement cause marketing (or even decide whether it’s right for your business) you need to get a basic understanding of what cause marketing is and what it isn’t.
That’s why I invited cause marketing expert Joe Waters to Cause Capitalism and asked him to explain what cause marketing means now and how your company or non-profit could benefit from a cause marketing program. Joe is the director of Cause and Event Marketing for Boston Medical Center and blogs regularly at Selfish Giving.
This interview is the first in a series that will cover: assessing whether cause marketing is right for you; implementation tactics; the non-profit/for-profit partnership; utilizing social media; cause marketing faux-pas and measuring your campaign’s success.
I highlighted some key points from our interview below, but I’d suggest you listen to our full conversation (30 minutes).
- Joe defines cause marketing as a partnership between a nonprofit and a for-profit for mutual profit.
- For a non-profit, a cause marketing program earns them money, branding and visibility.
- For a profit, a cause marketing program generates sales and builds respect and favorability with consumers.
- This definition is focused on cause-related marketing (referred to succinctly as cause marketing by Joe and myself), not the marketing of a cause. The key distinction is that cause marketing is transactional, which means that money is raised–in addition to awareness. Joe goes more deeply into this point and the next in his post “What is Cause Marketing?”
- A marketing campaign qualifies as cause marketing if it uses at least one of three tactics:
- Point-of-sale or pinups. These programs often happen at the register (“Would you like to donate $1 for X today?”) through paper cut-outs, stickers and scannables. Chili’s “Create A Pepper” campaign raised more than $5 million for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital by pinning up chili peppers that were colored by kids and purchased for $1. 100% of money raised goes directly to the non-profit.
- Percentage-of-sale. A percentage of the purchase price is donated to a cause. Starbucks donates 5¢ every time you pay with your (STARBUCKS) Red card; Baking for Good donates 15% of every purchase.
- Licensing. This is an expensive approach, primarily taken by large companies and charities. Joe sites the Arthritis Foundation’s Ease of Use Commendation for the Advil Caplets Easy Open Arthritis Cap.
- As a representative of a mid-sized non-profit, Joe focuses on what businesses are looking to get from their relationship with a non-profit. By anticipating these expectations, Joe and his team can deliver, or over-deliver, on them, securing repeat campaigns and larger donations.
- You don’t have to be Goliaths like General Mills or Nike to leverage cause marketing. It’s a matter of scale. Small and mid-sized businesses (SMEs) should work with non-profit partners that match their scale to develop programs that fit their existing budget and resources.
- Tying cause marketing to events is a great strategy for broader visibility and event participation.
- Pinups/point-of-sale programs are highly effective for SMEs. More from Joe on pinups here.
- Pinups/point-of-sale programs are terrific branding and publicity tools. One-fifth of attendees to BMC’s annual Halloween Town [we’ll talk about this in Part 2 of this series] event heard about it through store pinups.
- Cause marketing is not charity, it’s marketing. If your company’s or corporate partners’ program doesn’t raise money, the program will be axed.
- You (as a for-profit or non-profit) will never get rich off of cause marketing.
- Cause marketing programs should be turn-key; if you ask too much from your (typically for-profit) partner, you will loose them.
- I emailed Joe to ask whether he had favorite stats on convincing companies of the merits of cause marketing. His reply: “I have to say, I really don’t. Cause marketing has become so widely accepted and known I feel like if I have to justify it to someone with stats they’re just not a good prospect. Kind of like trying to sell advertising to someone who has never bought advertising before. You’ll never get any where!”