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Market With a Cause: The Underlying Value Behind Cause Marketing

By Ava Kelly – Manager at Reelio Cares & CEO of Love Notes Records.

cause-marketingWith the rise of ad block, banner blindness, and ad-free sites, modern marketers are constantly searching for new and innovative ways to sway consumer opinion and win business. One method growing in popularity is “cause marketing,” in which brands associate charitable causes or issues with their strategies.

Cause marketing builds consumer trust by showing that a brand is responsible, trustworthy, and community-driven. Depending on the product or service being offered, it can take on a variety of forms.

For example, you can highlight how your company behaves in a socially responsible manner, à la TOMS and its “One for One” commitment. You could partner with a nonprofit organization and tie its cause into your company’s marketing content, similar to Unilever and its partnership with the World Wildlife Foundation. Or, you could follow Bank of America’s lead in how it created a donation matching campaign called (RED).

From small startups to the largest consumer packaged goods brands, some of the world’s savviest companies are now implementing cause marketing strategies. Which means if you’re not thinking about it, your competitors probably are.

Don’t Be the Odd Brand Out

Eighty-nine percent of consumers say they prefer to side with companies that back charitable causes. If you associate your brand with something your target audience already feels good about, chances are they’re going to feel good about you as well.

Traditional marketing campaigns are one-way conversations in which brands talk at consumers. Cause marketing, on the other hand, sparks a two-way conversation in which brands interact with consumers over important topics. Because of this, it’s likely that you will see your engagement rates double when pairing a cause with your campaign.

As a for-profit organization, you are the multiplier. Nonprofits don’t have the resources to spend on marketing, but by partnering with them, you highlight their mission and multiply their impact while simultaneously upping your appeal. You’re already spending marketing dollars, so why not put them toward a cause that’s making a meaningful impact?

How to Market With a Cause

Here are a few tips and tricks of the trade to help formulate a cause marketing campaign that’s right for your brand:

  • Maintain authenticity. First, ensure you’re forming an authentic partnership. Consumers know immediately when a brand is doing something just to look good — and they don’t buy it. Think about cause marketing as representing who you are, as opposed to traditional campaigns that represent what you do. Partner with organizations that are similar or related to your brand, and ensure your content highlights those shared core values.
  • Does this actually make sense? While it’s important that you and your brand genuinely care for your associated cause, it is also just as important that your target audience cares as well. If you’re not speaking to the same audience with your cause and your brand, it will be difficult to maximize the campaign’s effectiveness. Integration and mutual interest is key.
  • Go beyond money. There will never be a shortage of monetary needs, but your consumers want to feel like they’re doing something that makes a difference. It can be difficult to connect the dots between a financial donation and real-life change, so consider running campaigns that encourage action and produce immediate, tangible results. People shouldn’t have to donate in order to engage with your brand. Instead, promote volunteering, awareness-building, and making non-financial donations (such as toys, clothes, blood, or time).
  • The partnership should be clear. Remember the NFL and all that pink during the month of October? Sure, we all knew it was for breast cancer awareness, but what specific charity were they partnered with? Exactly. Make sure your consumers fully understand who you’re working with and what impact you’re working to make. You want them as invested in change as your brand is.

When done right, cause marketing has the power to create waves of positivity directly from your brand. If you make an authentic attempt to aid those in need, consumers will tend to gravitate toward your company when deciding where to give their business.

So what about you? Have you experimented with cause marketing campaigns? Drop a note in the comments below to share your successes and lessons learned!

By Ava Kelly – Manager at Reelio Cares & CEO of Love Notes Records
Ava is an artist, change agent, educator, digital strategist, manager of Reelio Cares, and founder and CEO of Love Notes Records. While working on a project at the YouTube Space LA, Ava met Pete Borum, CEO of Reelio, and knew this was the platform that had the potential to change the way nonprofits and brands marketed their causes in the digital space.
Twitter: @AvaKellyMusic