Now more than ever before, cause marketing initiatives hold importance in the workplace. Companies who exhibit social responsibility have a competitive advantage as their values illustrate that they care about more than just increasing their bottom line. For consumers, this plays a critical role during the decision-making process and can be the difference between brand loyalty or disengagement.
Contrary to popular belief, cause marketing is neither corporate philanthropy nor social marketing. It’s a mutually beneficial partnership between a for-profit and a non-profit, involving a variety of activities that align the brand with a cause. As a result, this alliance generates business and societal benefits for both parties. The causes can range from large global initiatives to smaller, local efforts and the benefits can include increased connection with the public, communication of shared values, creation of social value, identifying new talent pools, and of course, increased profits.
Choosing the right cause marketing initiative is vital to success. But choosing the wrong cause or partner can have negative results — or worse, cause major damage to both parties.
Here are four steps to start your company’s cause marketing initiative:
1. Identify the “why”:
First, determine why you’re seeking to engage in a cause campaign. Do you need to change a perception about your brand? Do you want to align yourself with a specific audience? Are you looking to penetrate a new, niche market?
2. Evaluate your staff:
Without adequate bandwidth, skill sets and motivation to execute a potentially high-profile cause campaign, you’re likely to experience poor results. To avoid disappointment, analyze key criteria that will place the non-profit, community and your business in a position to thrive, and manage expectations from that point forward.
3. Pick a partner:
Choosing the right cause marketing partner is vital to success. Research partners that fully align with your goals and beliefs and have a clear understanding of what objectives are achievable. Remember, the biggest mistake you could make is to force inauthentic alliances. Consumers are savvy, and they can see through any blatant attempt to forcibly change perception.
4. Discuss your ideas:
Once you’ve selected an organization to support, analyze their current strengths and weaknesses, and determine which specific skills and resources you and your staff can bring to the table. Then, develop a proposal for the organization that outlines your specific ideas. At Sparks, we specialize in producing high impact experiential events, and therefore will be assisting Dress for Success with their marquee events throughout 2016. Since many of our female employees hold aspirational leadership positions within the company, they will also serve as mentors to women who are looking to enter the job market.
Positive outcomes for well-executed cause marketing initiatives can include increased media coverage or new, strategic partnerships, relationships or clients. Overall, a great cause marketing initiative should help increase a company’s brand exposure, captivate an audience of high-level potential clients, and provide its entire employee base with an opportunity to participate in a cause that matters to them. The time is now to think and act outside of our silos and leverage our skill sets and passions to positively impact the communities we serve.