Years ago, companies that supported or partnered with organizations whose goals were to advance a cause or better society in some way really stood out from the competition. Today, companies that don’t participate in cause marketing invite an entirely different type of attention.
It would be nice to think the reason for such an uptick in cause marketing is strictly philanthropic. However, the truth is, many companies publicly support social issues to earn the trust and loyalty of their customers—and keep up with the competition.
When done right, cause marketing can benefit all involved. Businesses gain loyal customers who become social influencers, consumers feel good about patronizing these businesses and doing their part, and organizations earn money and exposure to further their individual causes. It’s a win-win-win.
However, when not executed properly, cause marketing can actually have a reverse effect—creating more harm than good for the reputation and bottom line of the companies trying to implement it.
87% of consumers will purchase a product because a company advocated for an issue they cared about. 76% will refuse to purchase products or services from a company that supports an issue contrary to their beliefs.
So when and how is the right time to align your company with a cause? Read on.
How to Create a Successful Cause Marketing Campaign
How, when and why companies engage can make all the difference in the minds of consumers—and go a long way in determining whether a company’s desired effect is achieved. Below are some important tips on how to ensure your cause marketing campaign is successful, memorable and impactful.
Choose a cause that’s close to your heart, your brand and your audience. Establish partnerships that echo your brand values, mission and vision. For instance, if you are straw manufacturer, it wouldn’t make much sense to implement a cause marketing campaign that supports going green.
There are so many great causes out there. Choose one and stick with it. Brands that flip flop between too many causes diminish the impact it has on their company and the cause itself. This is especially obvious during awareness weeks (and months) when a company who has never supported a specific cause suddenly jumps on the bandwagon by turning their logo pink or rainbowed, even if their company values don’t match up. Consumers, especially millennials, can spot an opportunistic stunt from a mile away and immediately call it out to their circle of social media friends. Unless that’s the type of attention you want to attract, stick to causes that resonate with your brand.
Set measurable goals
Ensure your cause marketing campaign has defined and measurable goals and determine what metrics you will use to gauge its success or impact upfront. Include a plan for how the consumer can help you achieve these goals. Which brings us to the next point…
Share the love
Consumers want to be part of change. Invite them to do so. Help us plant 200,000 trees, instead of we (big company) are going to plant 200,000 trees. The best way to win customers over is to work side-by-side with them on issues that are most important to both of you.
Get your employees involved
Everyone in your company should be singing from the same song sheet. No matter how big or small your company is, it’s important to get buy-in from all of your employees and stakeholders. It’s not enough to say you support a cause, your brand has to live it each and every day.
This may sound disingenuous, but in order to increase awareness and contributions to the cause, a co-branded marketing campaign, including social media, can help put your cause in the spotlight, share real-time milestones, and motivate your target to take action. The important thing to remember is the messaging should promote your cause, not just your brand.
Another Way to Influence Change
Another form of cause marketing companies are tapping into more and more is influencer marketing. This is where companies use trusted social media influencers who already have a strong following to promote a cause. Because the message is delivered on a more intimate level than coming from a big company, there is more relatability and trust. Just like when determining which cause aligns best with your brand, it’s important to choose the right influencer to partner with your company.
One last thing to keep in mind, people love hashtags. Using hashtags in your social media campaign is an inexpensive way to increase your reach exponentially, with no additional media spend. Ask your social influencers, your employees, and your customers to help the cause by tagging their relevant posts. Then sit back and watch your company do well as you do good.