The business of business is not simply to make a profit, and this is becoming more true year by year in the era of social responsibility. Consumers want to align themselves with companies that are trying to make a positive difference in the world, and who actively pursue worthwhile causes. In fact, individuals are more likely to purchase from a socially and environmentally responsible company, and they are more likely to switch to another brand if they feel that it’s associated with a good cause. With all this being said, it should be no surprise that more and more companies are using cause marketing as a part of their overall strategy.
Understanding Cause Marketing
What is cause marketing?
Cause marketing, or cause-related marketing, is closely related to the idea of social responsibility, where businesses take part in furthering some social good and play a role in addressing societal issues. Most cause marketing initiatives involve partnering with a non-profit, where the business will tie its marketing strategy to charitable giving and active participation with that non-profit to the mutual advantage of both parties.
It’s worth noting that this mindset of business as a force for good is becoming the norm, not the exception. It’s not just that the presence of cause marketing can be a benefit; the absence of championing a good cause can be a detraction to some people, and it may be enough to make your customers want to turn to your competitors.
Genuineness is key
To set yourself up for success with cause marketing, try to follow these steps:
· Pick a cause you believe in
· Find something related to your brand
· Give more than just money
· Collaborate with like-minded non-profits
When you give from the heart and not just because it’s expected of you, it will come across as genuine and as an authentic attempt to make the world a better place. But what are the benefits of this approach to marketing? Is there something tangible that makes this an appealing and valuable strategy?
What are the benefits?
The ostensible goal of cause marketing is to raise awareness for and give exposure to both the non-profit organization and the for-profit business. While it might not be immediately apparent what companies can get out of this arrangement, the benefits can be tangible and valuable:
· Increased brand loyalty
· Positive image building
· Increased employee engagement and morale
· Increased sales
· Positive engagement on social media
· Favorable reputation
It’s difficult to exactly measure the impact of a partnership with a non-profit. But even outside of these tangible benefits, it’s hard to overstate the impact it can have on customer loyalty and employee happiness. Cause marketing is an amazing way to reach your key audience and attract consumers whose values align with yours.
And don’t forget that it’s not just about the benefits to the business. The non-profit stands to gain much from a corporate partnership, not the least of which are increased donations, exposure, and resources to continue their work.
We would be remiss if we didn’t mention the potential drawbacks associated with cause-related marketing. It’s easy for this kind of marketing strategy to feel like a ploy. If it’s not done out of a genuine desire to see change in the world and do good for good’s sake, people will be able to tell. Also, if the relationship between the two organizations sours, or if the non-profit you’re supporting has unethical practices or controversial political views, it can really hurt your public perception.
When a business pursues an ideal that they truly believe in and embeds the notions of social responsibility into their culture and identity, they can be irresistible to consumers who share those same values and ideals. Customers want to know that the things you value are the things they value, and a great way to make known what you stand for is cause marketing.
Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce, said that “the business of business is not business. The business of business is improving the state of the world.” This sentiment lies at the very heart of social responsibility, and cause marketing is a way for businesses to champion their ideals and attract like-minded individuals.