Why Your Local Business Needs a Cause Marketing Strategy

team or brotherhood concept, group of people putting hands together against blue sky

Finding ways of giving back to your local community is one of the best things you and your company can do.

Here’s the real secret – it doesn’t matter why you do it, just that you do it. Maybe some fiscal-focused leaders only like taking advantage of tax credits for charitable activities and philanthropic endeavors. But regardless, the community will appreciate your efforts, as well as your employees. You might even encourage or inspire industry peers to do their part. You may also find that customers will be more willing to go out of their way to patronize your business if they recognize that your organization truly “walks the talk” and thinks beyond the bottom line.

That’s the spirit of cause marketing, a business strategy where companies regularly promote their brands by supporting charities and being recognized as good corporate citizens. It’s the ultimate win-win-win, where community groups benefit, your staff benefits, and your entire company benefits.

At Hubbard, we’ve enjoyed maintaining a focus on cause marketing at all our stations. We have also discovered that this effort can lead to more opportunities for our people to make a difference. We encourage other companies to follow our example and develop their own methods, so they also can get involved in discovering the power of giving back to your community.

If you’re looking for ways to begin or boost cause marketing in your organization, consider some of these suggestions.

Create Your Objectives

A list of specific and potential benefits can go a long way, including identifying what local and national charities can be partnered with to build goodwill.

  • If you choose better employee engagement as an ideal outcome, focus on how your staff’s satisfaction may increase and also enjoy being part of something larger, especially if you invite them to be part of the process. Consider seeking their input on what charities are especially important to them, or offer them paid time off to volunteer at the designated charity. This can build loyalty, improve morale, and be welcomed by the charity.
  • When setting a goal to gain more customers, it can include making sure current and future customers positively associate your brand with your charity work, especially if it’s connected to a cause they already value or a charity they already support. This also ties into a trend in customer behavior where shoppers will go out of their way to help a business that reflects their personal values, including paying a higher price or switching from other brands. This enthusiasm and loyalty is balanced, however, by making sure a business truly delivers more than just grand announcements and verbal commitments, including putting effort into sustainable ingredients and processes.
  • Taking bold efforts to promote social responsibility through cause marketing will be celebrated, but this effort must appear genuine to customers and those you’re serving. Companies that don’t actively take any role at all, or give mixed messages, should be ready for negative publicity and backlash.

Executing The Campaign

A big part of this effort is getting the charity or charities on board as a recognized partner, rather than just somewhere you write a check to.

This way there can be greater collaboration and sharing of resources, such as joint press releases and media opportunities. Look for ways to share branding on either group’s sites or email newsletters. This can unify supporters of both groups who may not necessarily be connected: people who like you and your business, and people who like the charity and what it stands for.

You can seek the charity’s input on everything from where your support can go toward or even the ideal time to announce your collaboration.

Generally, you’ll need to tell the public why you’re selecting to start this partnership, and the charity will share why they are accepting and acknowledging your support.

Part of establishing your cause marketing effort can also include looking at other successful efforts where businesses have reached out to charities or  populations in need. Though every company is different, there are still common ways to give back to your local community.

Hubbard Chicago is involved in several cause marketing campaigns around the area such as Cards for Kids, Operation Santa Paws, and MIX Kids. Cards for Kids is an initiative through SHE 100.3 that works with sponsors to provide cards to children in local Chicago hospitals. Since they are unable to exchange Valentine’s Day card with their friends and classmates, SHE 100.3 partners with a local sponsor to bring the love right to them through handmade cards.

We also have Operation Santa Paws with 97.1 FM The Drive that works with local sponsors to collect donations for our furry friends for the holidays. After two weeks of promotion, our morning show hosts Sherman and Tingle put on an all-day broadcast in the city where patrons drop of their donations to benefit a local animal shelter.

Lastly, our MIX Kids campaign runs year round hosting several big events throughout the year. These events have been a huge success and helped to raise money for Lurie Children’s Hospital.

At Hubbard, we’ve seen first-hand the value of collaboration between businesses and charities. These kinds of partnerships go a long way in helping a charity extend its efforts. As well as, help a company reach out to the community as more than just a business. It’s a way to show that your brand cares and is eager to keep giving back.

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