Imagine that you live in a town that is home to a large number of low-income families and you want to help. While there are probably many in need, it’s difficult to pinpoint individuals who have higher levels of distress, how to connect with them and how to ascertain exactly what will contribute to solving their specific problems. So how do you make a difference and ensure you’re helping as many locals as possible, while maintaining corporate objectives and social responsibility directives? Cause marketing. Through these efforts, you can take on the duty of providing assistance and growing your business all while getting others involved.
Consumers love to support the brands they feel are contributing to the community and initiatives they value. This sense of generosity helps connect customers with businesses on a deeper level. For example, 70% of consumers want to know what the brands they support are doing to assist the causes they care about. Eighty-six percent of consumers will prioritize those companies they feel are more responsible for meeting the needs of the community. That alone shows that people value the charitable aspects of businesses more than you may even realize.
Through cause marketing, you can align with consumers' interests by supporting the charitable organizations that they value. Many marketers find that being involved with cause marketing leads to a substantial return on investment over time. So what exactly is cause marketing and how do you get involved? Let’s discuss.
What is Cause Marketing?
Cause marketing uses business's assets, including personnel, time, funds, and resources, to make a difference in their communities, while simultaneously growing their profits or market share. This strategy not only allows organizations to give back locally, but it also provides them with a much-needed opportunity to improve local awareness of their brand. Cause marketing often creates a positive impression of a brand among consumers, which can help improve their overall position in the market.
For example, your grocery store company might choose to partner with a local community food bank to address low income families access to fresh fruits and vegetables in areas designated as food deserts. Through food distribution events, setting up and volunteering your time with small community gardens, and marketing initiatives dedicated to fund raising, you will be able to make a direct impact within the organization, while ingratiating yourself to your existing customer base. In addition to the difference you make firsthand, your contributions will help showcase and bring awareness of the local food bank to those in the area. Thanks to your presence there, you can introduce the organization to those who could benefit from their services or others who would like to be involved in making a difference.
Ideas for Getting Involved
With tough times comes challenges for citizens, and where there is need, there are organizations dedicated to helping better the lives of those in the community. Your business can get involved in local community outreach. Start by choosing the type of initiative or program that you want to support. Ideally, it would be something that aligns with your business goals, area of concern for your employees, or an ideal that your company has found to be of significance. Ensuring a synergistic connection to the cause you choose will help establish a meaningful relationship and set both you and the organization you support up for long term success.
Next, decide on the style of cause marketing that works for your business, and how you can contribute. There are a variety of different opportunities such as a financial donation, product/service donation, volunteer hours, event hosting, and more. Weigh what you can realistically do to help in terms of assets and man power. Is there a surplus of products that you can donate without affecting your company’s ability to operate effectively? Can you make financial contributions without negatively affecting your daily operations? Are your employees willing to volunteer their time without infringing upon their work duties? These are all aspects that should be considered when determining what you can offer and to which organization to partner.
Here are some idea starters that can help you make the most impact through your cause marketing efforts.
Giving is the easiest and arguably the most recognizable method of helping. So when your business supports a local charity, instead of doing a "buy one, get one" offer, try using a "buy one, give one" strategy. When the consumer purchases a product or service during this initiative, your business donates the equivalent or a percentage to a cause or organization.
Sponsoring Local Community Events and Initiatives
Local events are a great opportunity to spread more brand awareness. When you appear at these events, you put a face to your brand. Your logo on event and initiative materials alone will help establish your commitment to the community. At the event, you can expand on the connection by developing a one-on-one relationship with patrons.
Begin by selecting an event that embodies the specific values of your organization. For example, an educational brand might focus on a book drive for a local library. This will increase your brand awareness with your target audience while simultaneously making a difference with those around you.
Offer Bundles In Your Store
One popular way to get your customers involved with the initiative is by offering up a chance to participate in the store. Put together bundles that they can purchase, ideally at a discounted rate. These could include food bags, backpacks, teacher gifts, gift baskets, or anything else that you feel might have value to the local community. Once the bundles have been bought, your business can then go out into the area and donate these bundles.
This method of cause marketing provides you with an opportunity to get your customers involved with your efforts. Not only are you paying it forward by supplying products or services that are needed, but you are also encouraging others to do so as well.
Host Your Own Event
After researching local, charitable organizations with whom you can partner, you may come to the conclusion that none of them are a good fit and you need to go it alone. Hosting an event for a specific cause that has meaning to your business or that does not get enough community representation is a viable option. You could try:
- A 5K or fun run
- Food drives
- Backpack drives
- Silent auctions
While getting together in person looks different right now due to COVID-19, there are ways to do events virtually or within social distancing guidelines. For example, if you usually host a race on Thanksgiving, you can have participants register online ahead of time and then run the distance of the race on their own Each participant can record their time virtually to see how they stack up against other runners. Executing in this way allows for group participation and still ensures that you are making efforts to meet the needs of the community.
Give Consumers the Option to Round Up
An easy way to get started with cause marketing is to invite customers to round their total up to the next dollar. The contributions accrued will then be donated to a cause that reflects your business's priorities. You can even consider matching donations to help show your commitment to giving back to the community.
Get Involved with a Media Company’s Initiatives
Hosting your own event or partnering with established organizations are two very viable options for getting in the cause marketing arena. When making the choice, you should consider the amount of time and resources you have to commit to making your efforts successful. A third option is to partner with a respected media company already engaged in giving back to the community they serve.
Their outreach programs will likely already have a significant following and presence, and can help you quickly and effectively spread community awareness without burdening your company’s resources. Their staff and employees are the key driving force in getting the work done making this a turnkey option for your company Allowing you to connect and support Georgia residents, bring awareness to your business, while avoiding the heavy lifting.
The Benefits of Incorporating Cause Marketing
While cause marketing efforts lead to making a positive impact in the surrounding community, it also does much more than that. Cause marketing offers a number of critical benefits for your business. It can:
- Give your brand more credibility within the surrounding areas.
- Allow you to give back directly to the residents, which in turn helps support your business.
- Create the sense that your business is trustworthy.
- Let consumers know they can count on you for their needs in your industry.
- Encourage people to shop with you over competitors that might not have those same charitable ties.
- Provide your business with a platform, which can help create a deeper connection with consumers.
For many businesses, cause marketing is the ideal way to build a strong relationship between your brand and the community. Consumers now, more than ever, are focused on the companies that genuinely care about doing good for the sake of others. To help you advance your efforts, choose a media partner, like Gray Atlanta, that values cause marketing just as much as you do. They often have initiatives of their own, such as Surprise Squad and Books To Kids, and can also help connect you with others based on your company’s charitable identity, business goals, what you can offer and the needs of the community.