Going Beyond Marketing a Cause

How to Build a Charitable Partnership That Brings About True Social Change

By Kim Saam

More companies than ever before are introducing cause-marketing partnerships with charities addressing all manner of issues. And it’s no wonder; when a company genuinely commits to a cause, the benefits extend back to the company through increased brand recognition, customer loyalty and trust, and employee satisfaction.

In fact, American continue to expect more out of businesses. The 2017 Cone Communications CSR Study found that four-out-of-five (79%) consumers expect business to continue improving their CSR efforts and more than three-out-of-five (63%) are hopeful businesses will take the lead to drive social and environmental change moving forward.[i] When looking at millennial consumers specifically, 70% of youth (13-25) believe corporations have more power to change the world than governments.[ii]

Further, according to Forbes, “Cause marketing is no longer seen as the ‘nice’ thing to do, but an essential business practice.”[iii] More and more consumers believe companies have a responsibility to not only make a positive impact, but also to give employees and consumers a chance to participate in a movement for social change.

Cause-marketing collaborations give brands the chance to partner with effective non-profits and, together, meet the authentic desire to make a difference.

 

First, Find the Right Partner

1.    Choose a good, logical fit. The most critical step in establishing a successful cause-marketing partnership is aligning your business or product with a cause that complements your brand mission and values—and by extension, with those of your customers. Today, more than ever, consumers want to know that the companies they support share their values.[iv]

 

Then, Build the Platform

Once you have established a relationship with the charity of your choosing, work together to build your campaign.

2.    Set a goal. Clearly outlining what you hope your company and the charity will achieve through the partnership is a critical first step. Consider your financial contribution level, how you might include employee and consumer participation, and target media exposure.

3.    Identify your campaign approach. Look at what works. Understand the charity’s unique value proposition and talk to them about what has yielded success in the past. Consider which elements of promotions you’ve run could apply, and study other cause-marketing campaigns that have created a buzz in the marketplace.[v]

4.    Package your campaign. A Harvard Business Review article suggests choosing a title that is simple, informative, and gripping (and perhaps pairing it with a hashtag). Look at all the elements of your partnership and condense your story down into something that your customers can quickly and easily understand. While urgency will provoke the action you desire, make sure to deliberately define the tone, so it stays true your brand and that of your charity partner.

5.    Tell a story. You know this is essential for selling your products, the same goes for inspiring support for a charitable campaign. The charity you’ve chosen is addressing an issue; to be successful, customers need to care. Use creative, visual storytelling, to provide interesting information in an accessible format. Ask your charity partner what marketing content they have to offer or collaborate with them to produce something new.

 

Next, Inspire Action

Enthusiasm is contagious, so show your employees and customers that your company is committed to the partnership. Give them simple, clear ways to join you.

6.    Empower your customers. Now that your customers are inspired to support the campaign, make it easy for them to participate. Your mission might be global, but you must establish clear, personal actions that your audience can easily complete. Better still, define both what you want them to do, and what the result of their actions will be. The most successful campaigns pair direct actions with specific outcomes whether it’s $1 for every selfie using your hashtag or a percentage donation for every item sold.

7.    Encourage sharing. If your customer is moved to action by your campaign, odds are he or she may be compelled to share about the campaign and the experience through word of mouth or on social networks. Clearly displaying website urls, social handles, or campaign hashtags can increase visibility and success quickly without added cost.

 

Finally, Share Results!

Not only has your company invested time, energy, and money into the partnership, but if the campaign has been successful, you’ve engaged people in the outcome so don’t forget to tell people what their support has achieved.

8.    Provide Results. More than 8-in-10 (82%) of consumers say that if a company makes CSR commitments, they will hold it responsible for sharing results.[vi] After your campaign concludes, or as you hit key benchmarks, make sure to tell your customers what their support has made possible. Knowing their actions directly helped fund the cause with which your brand has partnered will inspire a positive association with your company and continued customer loyalty.

9. Reflect & Repeat! Maximize your investment of time and energy by continuing build upon the foundation you've created. Leverage learnings and keep the momentum going by renewing your commitment to your charity partner!

 

Ready to get started? Reach out to a Vitamin Angels Account Manager to discuss a cause-marketing partnership today.



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