Who Needs a Cause Marketing Strategy?
A common question to come across is how applicable cause marketing is to small and medium-sized businesses in Chicago. The truth is, every company that sells a product or service can benefit from a cause marketing strategy. People want to see more good in the world and expect companies to participate in it. Every company, small or large, has an obligation to its community to participate and support a cause. According to consumer preference, 73% of consumers believe that a company can take actions that both increase profits and improve conditions in communities where it operates. With that belief comes obligation. In the coming years, buyers are more likely to consider social responsibility when shopping for products/services.
What is cause marketing strategy?
Cause marketing entails for-profit businesses engage in social causes to increase sales, raise awareness, or just contribute to an important cause. A cause marketing strategy is how you create a plan that guides your cause marketing efforts. For instance, you should consider the following when developing your cause marketing strategy:
Choose a cause that ‘makes sense’
First, know your brand and its core values. Then, choose a cause aligned with your brand so you don’t risk your campaign’s failure before it can get started. When choosing a non-profit to work with, you need to understand their cause fully. What do they do, and what do they stand for? Now, how does that pertain to your business?
Example: A restaurant teaming with a local food bank or a business that values eco-friendly solutions teaming with an environmentally-friendly cause.
Consider your options for promotion
There are the typical paid promotion options to consider, like social media ads, influencers, banner ads, and more. Cause marketing is also great for promotions like word-to-mouth and press coverage. It can also be beneficial to encourage employees to participate in the cause and get the word out.
Marketing-Schools suggests relying more on press coverage and word-of-mouth with close attention to:
- Authenticity – partnering with a relevant cause
- Familiarity – when the same group of consumers trusts both brands
- Branding – same messaging throughout all platforms
- Press coverage – invite the media to any associated events as a free method for increasing exposure of your partnership
Set and manage goals
Like with every marketing effort, you need to set goals specific to the purpose of your campaign. Otherwise, you will be unable to measure the success of your partnership.
Consider following the S.M.A.R.T goal framework for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely goals.
What are the benefits of cause marketing?
There are many benefits of cause marketing. Aside from the lives directly impacted by the cause you choose to support, it benefits your business by increasing sales, boosting employee morale, and reaching new audiences.
Increase Your Sales
Consumers are more likely to purchase a product that they know a portion of the sales will go to a good cause. A study by Cone and Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business revealed that cause-related marketing could increase sales as much as 74% in certain consumer-goods categories, and consumers spend twice as long looking at cause-related ads than generic corporate ones.
Boost Employee Morale
Employees are more likely to be engaged and committed to a company that regularly gives and volunteers. In fact, turnover dropped by 57% in employee groups most deeply connected to their companies’ giving and volunteering efforts. When your staff feels like they’re making a difference, there is a boost in employee morale and self-importance. In turn, there is a sense of company pride.
Reach New Audiences
Partnering with a non-profit for a good cause brings a wider range of brand awareness and reach to your business. Consumers become loyal to companies they feel are making a difference to a good cause, especially if it means something to them. In truth, 87% of consumers will buy a product because the company they’re supporting cares about a cause that’s relevant to them.
What are some examples of cause marketing?
There are many reasons why your local business needs a cause marketing strategy. One of which is that it has been proven to successfully achieve the goals it was set out to attain. Just a few of countless examples include companies like Mariano’s, Fresh Thyme Market, Little Rituals, and Quarantine Coffee.
Grand Giving at Mariano’s
Since 2013, Curtis Granderson and the Grand Kids Foundation launch an annual national food insecurity campaign and fundraiser called GRAND GIVING. Their efforts have led to more than 37 million meals being donated to children and families in need. Their partnerships are with The Greater Chicago Food Depository and the Northern Illinois Foodbank.
Grab n’ Give at Fresh Thyme Market
Every November, Fresh Thyme Market gives shoppers the options to round up at the register to support the Greater Chicago Food Depository. That’s not all, though. They also have a Grab n’ Give promotion that provides an additional option to purchase a $9.99 or $19.99 bag of non-perishable items to be filled up and donated to families in need.
Little Rituals is a health and wellness company focused on kids, parents, and communities. They’ve partnered with the Chicago Food Depository so that every Little Rituals order feeds 3 meals to people in need.
Quarantine Coffee with Connect Roasters
Ian Happ, a baseball outfielder for the Chicago Cubs, has partnered with Connect Roasters to promote Quarantine Coffee. For every bag of coffee sold, $3 goes directly to COVID-19 relief charities. This comes as no surprise as Ian Happ, as well as Chicago Cubs’ first baseman and outfielder José Martínez, are considered coffee aficionados.
How do you build a cause marketing strategy?
It is much more difficult to build a successful cause marketing strategy than to create a disastrous one. For the most effective results, build your strategy with the 4 C’s of cause marketing close in mind:
1C. Relate to Core Missions
To come across as authentic to consumers, your cause marketing should always be tied to your business’s core mission. Look at Fresh Thyme Market’s Grab n’ Give promotion, for example. They say their mission is “to improve the way our communities eat by offering fresh and healthy food at amazing values.” They stay tied to that core mission when choosing to partner with the Greater Chicago Food Depository.
2C. Contribute Value
A successful cause marketing strategy includes adding value to the promotion you’re launching, not just coming out and saying you support the cause. Consider how you can add value to the cause by partnering with a non-profit. In the case of Little Rituals, every single order supplies 3 meals in need. Consumers are not just under the impression ‘some’ money will go to charity, but that three meals will go to a family in need when they make that purchase.
3C. Continuous Effort
Cause marketing is not a ‘one-time’ business strategy to boost sales and look good. It is a commitment over time, so consumers identify your product with the cause. Mariano’s Grand Giving promotion started in 2013, but it didn’t stop that year. It is an annual campaign and fundraiser.
4C. Clear Communication
When building your cause marketing strategy, less is more in the sense of advertisement. Be clear, concise, and open to consumers about what your brand and partnering non-profit intend to achieve. It can be easy to miscommunicate your message and look racist, sexist, disingenuine, and more if your promotions are clever and open to interpretation. Tell consumers exactly what to expect.
Who needs a cause marketing strategy?
Any business owner with the resources to implement a cause marketing strategy needs one.
Cause marketing is the key to building brand recognition while making significant differences in the cause(s) you choose to partner with. As long as the cause is relevant to your brand and purposeful, Chicago consumers will be impressed with your efforts, more likely to purchase your brand, and you’ll reach a wider audience of consumers who will be grateful you supported a cause that means something to them. Your company will benefit in many ways, but most importantly, so will the lives affected by the cause.