I’ve been involved with some aspect of cause marketing with clients/partners for the majority of my 27-year career. I love every aspect of this strategy – from the help provided to the cause, to the way the media rallies around the right collaboration, to the results of a program done well. It can be a smart marketing strategy for any organization, provided you connect with the right partner and are committed to the cause.
As defined by Bruce Burtch, an icon in cause marketing for over 30-years, who coined the phrase — “do well by doing good” — cause marketing is a marketing partnership between a nonprofit and a for-profit organization, whereby each party receives benefit toward their individual marketing objectives, while striving to create a greater good through their combined resources.
As consumers, we are exposed to cause marketing efforts every day whether we notice it or not. A few of the most influential and well-known programs include:
Yoplait Saves Lids to Save Lives
General Mills donates 10 cents to Susan G. Komen® for each lid received or code entered online. Consumers are motivated to send in millions of lids for a cause that has raised well over $26 million over the past 15 years.
In 2004, Nike and the Armstrong Foundation created the very recognizable and very yellow Livestrong bands, which have since provided support and awareness for people affected by cancer. This worldwide cause quickly became a fashion item for all ages, therefore, quickly becoming a success. Each yellow rubber band was sold for $1 and has raised more than $70 million to date.
This program licensed by brands like The Gap, Apple, and Armani, has helped to raise over $140 million for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.
Not all efforts need to be so large to be successful. From the nonprofit’s perspective every little bit can make a difference. And not all nonprofit organizations are lucky enough to connect with a huge brand. So keep an open mind to the effort, no matter what your budget might be.
A local success story:
Pathfinders helped to partner the local Einstein Bros. Bagels with the Girls & Boys Club of St. Joseph County. The entire event was concepted, coordinated, and launched in about five business days. Einstein Bros. Bagels agreed to donate 20% of all proceeds over a 4-day period to the Boys & Girls Club of SJC. Consumers just needed to mention Boys & Girls Club at the point of purchase for the donation to take place.
Pathfinders developed a strong press release that was sent to all area media. We got several TV stations to shoot live footage, the local newspaper to write a story, and the radio stations to talk about the cause; in addition, we utilized social media to share the event with the masses. We also created table tents, posters, and a point-of-sale container to place all qualifying receipts throughout the restaurant. But best of all, the Einstein’s was packed with patrons!
The results of this 4-day cause marketing campaign was a very nice check donated to the Boys & Girls Club of St. Joseph County.
Is cause marketing right for your organization? If you think it is, get your agency partner involved to assist with the cause research and selection process; then have them build the strategy and story that will serve as the foundation for your successful marketing campaign.