Why the Cause Needs to Match Your Cause Marketing Efforts

One of the questions that many businesses ask is how they approach corporate social responsibility.

This doesn’t just mean donations to local (or national/international) charities; it also starts at home too, and that means with the people around you.

However, another way that companies can become more socially responsible is via cause marketing, which is becoming a lot more mainstream and visible.

You only need to look at the numbers to see why cause marketing is becoming something business can’t ignore any longer:

  • Cause sponsorship is predicted to reach $1.92 billion in 2015, an increase of 3.7% over the previous 12 months.
  • 89% of U.S. consumers would switch brands to deal with companies associated with good causes.
  • 42% of North American consumers would pay more for brands committed to positive social and environmental impact.

As you can see, cause marketing isn’t just good business ethics, it’s good business sense too. But you need to make sure that it’s for the right reason.

The Because of Cause Marketing

Consumers are smart. Everything needs to be “just so” if you want to win their business, and that increasingly means having more than just the cheapest prices or nicest-looking product.

If you’re looking to increase your awareness to consumers via cause marketing, there needs to be a genuine “because” behind the cause.

  • Is the cause relevant to you and your brand? No-one likes bandwagon jumpers, especially when it comes to charities and good causes. Picking a charity that doesn’t align with your company ethic could be seen as a sign you’re just using cause marketing for profit dollars.
  • Are you a hopper or a stayer? Any worthy cause will tell you that while short-term fixes help, long-term change is where the real needs lie. Invest in your cause marketing for the long-term; grow a relationship with the cause – build and support.
  • Are you engaging your employees? A solid social responsibility plan should be including your employees to start with. Make sure they’re fully engaged with your cause marketing efforts; involve at every step and look for feedback on how to improve constantly.
  • Why this particular cause? Yes, it’s relevant to your business, but why your chosen one over many others like it? Be clear why you’re supporting; be clear where the dollars are going; be clear what change can be made; and be clear why the need to help now.

Local or (Inter)National

The main question many businesses ask themselves is whether they should be supporting local or national/international causes. Ideally, you’d be able to support both initiatives, which would benefit everyone. But we know ideally doesn’t always cut it.

A lot can come down to your bandwidth.

  • Do you have the resources to properly support a national/international campaign?
  • Is your customer/client base local or national/international?
  • Are there local projects that you can make a big difference to with your support?
  • Is your local community one that can work with a cause marketing mindset?

The answers to these questions, and more like them, can help you decide whether you invest locally or further afield. But again, make sure it’s for the right reasons and not simply to make you look good for a while.

Marketing is one of the most important aspects of any business. Cause marketing is joining the fray as an equally important part of your ongoing plans, especially in the eyes of your customers.

How’s your business stacking up?

Danny Brown is the co-founder of The Friendship Bench. Read more blog posts from Danny at dannybrown.me, or follow him on Twitter @DannyBrown.
John Haydon