Brands are increasingly trying to tie themselves to socially conscious movements in order to do good and do good for their brand. Socially conscious brands like Toms (a brand that donates one item for every item bought) have forged ahead and helped define a space where the success of a business isn’t solely determined on how large a profit they turn. Instead, companies are realizing that their personal values and their company values are not mutually exclusive. By aligning themselves with social movements or other socially conscious brands, they attract consumers, increase loyalty and drive demand. In fact, according to the Cone Communications Social Impact Study, 89% of consumers say they are likely to switch brands to one associated with a cause if given the opportunity. Cause marketing arises when companies align themselves with a particular cause and create a campaign that publicizes their involvement in order to do the most good.
We’ve looked at some of the best cause marketing campaigns nominated for the 2015 Halo Awards and pulled out some of the keys to a successful cause marketing campaign.
Find the right cause
The biggest mistake that companies make is choosing the wrong cause to support. We’re not saying that some causes are more worthy than others, but we are saying that some causes make more sense for your brand. Choose a cause that aligns with your values as a company. If you’re passionate about food, find an organization that tackles hunger. If you’re passionate about finances (like American Express), start a fund that works to make the American “financial system accessible for all.”
Start My Own?
Sometimes finding the right cause means partnering with an organization that’s already involved where you want to be. But sometimes it means developing your own program to raise awareness or funds to address a problem. For example, Dick’s Sporting Goods started a “Sports Matter” grant matching campaign to support youth sports programs that are at risk for losing funding.
Find the model that’s right for you
Our next cause marketing tip involves finding the best way to get people to get involved with your cause. There are a few approaches that are currently seeing a lot of success. First, consider inviting your employees into the cause and sharing with your consumers the impact your employees had. (Like how a WestJet employee covered a father’s shift for a week so he could visit his son at the Ronald McDonald House.) Or include a call to action to help people donate or get involved. (Like Cascadian Farms nationwide campaign that called their audience to plant wildflowers to support local bee populations.) Or maybe you tie a percentage of your sales directly to benefitting the cause. (Like ProductRED, which partners with brands that donate up to 50% of their proceeds to support the fight against HIV.)
WestJet teams up with Ronald McDonald House
Get people talking
Once you’ve figured out what cause you’re going to support and how you’re going to do it, it’s time to get the message out. The tried and true method to communicate a message in an emotional and engaging way is through video. Every campaign we examined that was nominated for the Halo Awards had an inspirational and moving video that communicated the importance of the cause and how the company was going to get involved. Many of the best campaigns also incorporated some type of audience interaction and engagement in terms of social media. You can see more of the campaigns from American Express, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Disney and see for yourselves what worked best here.
The most important thing that determines the success of a cause marketing campaign is authenticity. The companies that do the most good are the ones who truly believe in the cause they’re supporting and aren’t trying to play the market and grab hold of the cause marketing trend. The brands that see the most impact care less about whether they’ll profit off of their endeavor and more about whether they’ll make a difference. Even if your company isn’t a good fit for cause marketing, getting your company involved in the greater good by encouraging volunteering or finding socially conscious vendors will have an impact on your company and your greater community that is sure to make a difference.
So what’s your difference maker?
Tell us @movecomm! And as always, #MOVEahead!