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How to Use Cause Related Marketing?

Cause marketing involves a collaboration between a for‑profit business and a nonprofit organization.

In an age where transparency is vital to their bottom line, businesses are realizing that consumers are concerned with their impact on society. Consumers expect brands to be socially responsible in fact:

  • 70% of consumers want to know how brands are addressing social and environmental issues.
  • 46% of consumers pay close attention to a brand’s actions.

One solution businesses are pursuing is cause marketing.

Cause marketing involves a collaboration between a for-profit business and a nonprofit organization for a common benefit. Cause marketing can also refer to social or charitable campaigns put on by for-profit brands.

Typically, a brand’s association with a nonprofit will boost their corporate social responsibility. The nonprofit, in exchange for their ethical contributions to the collaboration, creates more awareness for their organization.

As new generations bring in new values, businesses must learn to pivot their strategies in order to keep up. Businesses that care about sustainability and ethics are at the top of consumers’ lists, and cause marketing can help bring a business’s social responsibility to their customers’ attention.

Benefits of Cause Marketing

Cause-related marketing increases brand awareness and exposure for the nonprofit partner. Since nonprofits typically have a limited budget for marketing, getting a small business or corporation to partner with them can help get information about their efforts and their cause out in front of consumers they might not otherwise reach. However, there are also huge benefits to the corporate partner, including:

  • Fulfilling the demand for corporate social responsibility
  • Improving their corporate image
  • Building a relationship with the community
  • Increasing brand loyalty
  • Boosting employee morale
  • Standing out from the competition

Building a Successful Cause Marketing Campaign

A successful cause marketing campaign can bring many benefits, from generating new leads to creating loyalty and trust among your customers. Done properly, cause-related marketing will help both your business and your nonprofit partner. Cause marketing can be very beneficial when it comes to a small business marketing plan because it can help build awareness for the brand that they wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.

However, it's important to make a strategic marketing plan before launching your campaign to ensure that both parties will get the most out of the collaboration.

Identify your cause

A cause marketing campaign should reflect the values of your company and your customers. While there are examples of successful partnerships between organizations with nothing obvious in common, cause marketing will come off as more genuine if the cause is related to your brand in some way. Knowing your audience and constructing a campaign around their values will not only help the nonprofit you are involved with, but will also increase loyalty to your brand.

Additionally, your employees will be more willing to participate if it’s something they believe in. Their passion will show through their work, enhancing the outcomes for the nonprofit.

Determine your contribution

Monetary contributions aren’t the only way companies can help a cause. Often money isn’t enough to convince consumers, and monetary gifts can seem disingenuous or even lazy. Furthermore, many small businesses might not have the budget to write a large check. Luckily, businesses and marketing departments have more to offer than just money. Here are some other contributions you can make:

  • Video services for charity functions
  • Direct mail campaigns
  • Email marketing campaigns
  • Event planning
  • Photography for social media
  • Advertising campaign ideas
  • Copywriting for print and social media
  • Donations of products and services
  • Volunteer groups from your company

These services can help form a strong association between your products and your company’s nonprofit work.

However, even monetary support can be funded in a variety of ways. For example, your company could create a promotion that donates a certain amount to a nonprofit for every sale you make on a specific product or service.

Involve your audience

Your audience can be a driving force in your cause marketing campaign if you let them. By using social media or creating a custom-built landing page, you can motivate your audience to participate in many ways.

  • Donating to the cause
  • Sharing your social media posts to spread awareness
  • Interacting with your nonprofit partners
  • Participating in an event

Using customer relationship management (CRM) software can help you pursue the right audience for your cause marketing while raising awareness for your nonprofit partners. It can also help ensure you follow up and create personalized messages of gratitude and appreciation. Making your audience feel involved will give them a sense of responsibility—as 96% of people feel their own actions can make a difference. Messaging and outreach that validates these feelings can be a great way to drive engagement.

Co-promote with a nonprofit

The campaign will likely get more traction if both you and your nonprofit partner are promoting it.

  • Tag each other in social media posts.
  • Announce your affiliation in a newsletter.
  • Send a joint press release to news outlets.
  • Write blog posts about the experience.
  • Use each other’s logos in marketing campaigns.

Strategizing with your nonprofit partner can help ensure both of you will get the most out of the partnership. Some of the most successful cause marketing campaigns developed omnichannel marketing strategies to increase awareness and exposure. Marketing automation can help you strategize by freeing you of the repetitive tasks of posting to social media or sending emails.

Cause-related marketing examples

As more consumers are holding companies accountable for social responsibility, businesses have created successful campaigns through partnerships with nonprofits.

Yoplait Save Lids to Save Lives

Yoplait created the Save Lids to Save Lives campaign to raise money for the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s fight against breast cancer. They made some of their yogurt lids pink and encouraged people to send them in to raise 10 cents each. Yoplait leveraged the national popularity of the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure and supported the initiative with paid and earned media. It even extended to other General Mills brands, including Cheerios, Nature Valley, and Betty Crocker. All in all, the campaign raised $26 million.

Red Nose Day & Walgreens

A collaboration between Red Nose Day and Walgreens raises money for children in poverty. The iconic red noses are available for purchase at Walgreens during the annual 6-week campaign, and customers are encouraged to take pictures and wear them to other Red Nose Day fundraising events. The campaign uses the power of social media marketing to generate awareness from celebrities and other influencers, and the proceeds are donated directly to the foundation.

Buy a Pair, Give a Pair by Warby Parker

Warby Parker continues to partner with various health care and medical organizations to donate glasses to those in need. They also teach their nonprofit partners how to administer basic eye exams and give vision-impaired children free glasses so they can continue their education more easily. They have paired with businesses like VisionSpring and created programs like Pupils Project to provide free vision screenings and eye exams to schoolchildren. Through these partnerships, Warby Parker has reached people in more than 50 countries.

PurposeFULL Cause Marketing Campaign

This campaign is a collaboration between Arby’s and Share Our Strength, a nonprofit that helps feed children in America. PurposeFULL is a point-of-sale campaign, which means customers are asked to donate when they buy a product from Arby’s. By donating $1, customers can provide food for 10 meals. The low donation amount allows customers to focus on the support. So far, Arby’s has raised over $15 million for the campaign.

Businesses are held accountable by their customers, and many choose to participate in corporate social responsibility campaigns. Consumers are more aware of business practices today than ever before and care about where their money goes. By choosing corporate social responsibility, businesses can align their goals with helping make the world a better place.

What Is Cause Marketing?: FAQ

What is a cause marketing strategy?

A cause marketing strategy is a collaboration between two organizations who both stand to benefit from the collaboration. This is typically a collaboration between a for-profit business and a non-profit organization. Another cause marketing definition is when a company engages in a charitable or social campaign. As part of a cause marketing strategy, the company may also use a marketing plan template as a starting point for their plan.

The idea behind using a cause marketing strategy is that by collaborating with a charitable cause, it will help a for-profit business appear more socially conscious and responsible. When executed correctly, this helps improve a company's image, and can be used to make amends for previous mistakes made by the company. However, a cause marketing strategy can be criticized if it comes off like the business only cares about repairing its image, so it’s crucial that you present it sincerely.

What are popular examples of cause marketing?

There are a variety of cause marketing examples, but one of the most significant examples is the Nike/Colin Kaepernick marketing collaboration. This followed Colin Kaepernick, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, who received backlash for taking a knee during an NFL game as the National Anthem played. The point of Kaepernick taking a knee was to protest the treatment of black people by the US government.

Kaepernick, after receiving backlash following the incident, left the NFL and signed up with Nike as part of an ad campaign to raise awareness of the black struggle in America. The ad campaign itself created even more backlash, with a large number of conservatives burning their Nikes in protest for aligning with Kaepernick. This may have seemed like a bad decision by Nike, but in truth, they benefited two-fold from people burning their Nikes.

For one, people who destroy their products tend to rebuy them eventually. This is not universal, but it happens often enough that the protests don't make much of a difference. Furthermore, the good image of supporting a cause was a net gain for the company's image. Additionally, to Nike, one of the best things about the protest is that it got people talking about their campaign. And if the protesters hoped to hurt Nike's profits, they were likely disappointed to discover that Nike made $6 billion following those protests.

Another company that had a very similar situation was Keurig, although it was less intentional than Nike's. Keurig responded to a controversy surrounding media personality Sean Hannity, which led to Keurig pulling ads from his Fox News show.

Much like with Nike, this situation caused people to destroy their Keurig coffee pots in protest. However, this had the opposite effect they hoped would happen: people were talking positively about Keurig more than negatively, and rather than decrease, the sales of Keurig products only increased. This served as an early case study of how companies could garner success through controversy, so long as there are more supporters than opponents. It even caused some companies to begin changing their priorities about how they handle controversy.

What is the difference between cause marketing and cause-related marketing?

While the terms cause marketing and cause-related marketing are often used interchangeably, there are a few differences. Namely, the term "cause-related marketing" is preferred in the United Kingdom and India, while the United States and Canada tend to use "cause marketing". The term cause-related marketing first originated in 1983, used by American Express in their own cause marketing strategy. While there are differences in where the terms originated, the definition of cause marketing is the same as cause-related marketing.

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