Tue, February 05 2013

Why cause marketing is booming - and 3 ways to keep it effective

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

Filed under:   Cause-related marketing •

Cause marketing grew again in 2012.  Why are more and more companies embracing good causes?  Because it works to drive sales - and do good in the process.

According to Edelman and emarketer, customers are consistently more inclined to buy products from companies aligned with causes.

worldwide trend

That said, there is still plenty of research showing consumers are increasingly shrewd about discerning just how caring a company truly is.  And they punish those that are not.

If you are doing any cause-related marketing - or working with companies who are - remember these three golden rules.

1. Suitability

Does the partnership pass the sniff test for suitability? For example, even if the company donated all of its profits, Hummer would never be a good partner for Greenpeace.  Sounds obvious, right?  But I’ve seen some partners that seemed poorly suited.  You want a fit that makes sense to the consumer. You also want a fit that makes sense to the corporation and the cause, who should look for a deeper win-win.  An ideal partnership is one where the cause and company’s objectives reinforce each other.

2. Authenticity

A close cousin of suitability, authenticity is about the company walking the talk of the cause. Does the company advance the principles of the cause in its own work and products?  Or is it a way of countering problems?  The latter won’t work.  That’s writewashing, greenwashing, or pinkwashing, depending on the cause.

3. Transparency

It’s not enough to say, we’re partners and a portion of proceeds benefits xyz charity.  Both the company and the charity need to say what amount of money is going where to do what.  Very, very clearly - on everything.  Put it on price tags, marketing materials, everywhere.  Err on the side of openness.  The backlash is bitter - especially on social media - if you are not.

If you’re a company, by all means partner with a cause.  It will be good for your brand - and your sales.  But only if you do it right.  And if you’re a nonprofit, make sure your partners are genuine.  When they are, you get a healthy bottom line - and a better world in the process.


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