Recently our 12 year old West Terrier became ill and the veterinarian prescribed Hills science diet food. It was more expensive, but a significantly more effective diet solution for her. I noticed that the packaging contained information about nutrition for our beloved pet. It also had something else that caught my eye: Food-Shelter-Love, a program that has helped 11 million shelter pets find a forever home. This evoked emotion in me as I imagined the pets that found a loving home like our Westy, Story.

The package of Hills Science Diet is an example of cause marketing. Let’s talk about cause marketing and the do’s and don’ts.

First, what is Cause Marketing?

Cause-related marketing is a joint publicity campaign between a business brand and a common cause or nonprofit. It is typically designed as a mutually beneficial way to raise awareness, funds and loyal customers.

Corporations use cause marketing to remain competitive in a marketplace that demands more corporate social responsibility. Nonprofit organizations are able to raise funds and followers faster by aligning their cause with a commercial brand that has market awareness and recognition.

Why should a business consider cause-related marketing?

According to a 2019 report from @MarksteinCo + Certus Insights, 70% of consumers want to know how brands are addressing social and environmental issues and 46% of consumers pay close attention to a brand’s actions.

This means that your customers are more conscious of a product’s social and environmental impacts, from your ingredients and supply chains to your hiring and equitable practices. And in a world where we compete globally, even being a local small business may not be enough anymore. Your proximity for public relations may need a boost.

Finally, as the millennials gain more purchasing power, spending patterns will skew significantly towards brands that demonstrate and even verify their commitment to sustainability and ethics. The good news is that these millennials are willing to pay more for products that are certified ethically or by a third-party verification.

Types of cause marketing campaigns include:
  • Point of Sale: Making an in-direct appeal to contribute to a cause at the point of sale at the cash register or checkout cart. Example: buying carbon offsets when you purchase your airline tickets. This campaign makes it easy for consumers to give a small amount of money to a cause that makes them feel good at time of purchase.
  • Buy One Give One: Where the business donates a product or service to a designated nonprofit organization serving a certain population in need. Example: Tom’s Shoes. Consumers get the experience of giving while purchasing.
  • Portion of Purchase: When a business pledges to donate a portion of their sales to a nonprofit or cause, typically during a specific time period or on a specific product/package.
  • Awareness: Typically a social media campaign where the business shares a cause they are supporting and asks people to like and share with others on social media. This is a softer call to action that builds cause awareness, community and brand awareness. Another version of this sharing another non-financial call to action like “join newsletter” the business will donate to the nonprofit or cause.
  • Volunteer: When a business invites their customers to join them in volunteering with a local nonprofit or for a cause.
Which medium works best for direct action campaigns?

Much depends on your industry and the market that you are serving. Some of the most successful and time tested mediums are direct mail campaigns.

Copywriting is typically long-form and envelopes stuffed with lots of paper, including a postage paid return envelope to make it convenient for you to send back a check to support the cause. They also will include incentives to act quickly as well as websites that allow you to customize your selection or learn more about the charity or cause.

An example that you may have seen in your mailbox each year is Easter Seals or the March of Dimes. If you’ve ever donated to a national charity or non-profit organization you are likely to have received one of these.

However, most cause marketing these days include a combination of social media campaigns with URL landing pages. This allows more of a social experience as people can share what cause they are supporting with their friends and gain social credibility for the cause they support.

Copywriting for social media and landing pages are much more efficient in length and focus on only one call to action (very few options or choices).

The Do’s and Don’ts of Cause Marketing

Make a realistic link between brand and cause.

Invite the audience to be part of conversation

Provide social proof of who, how and why

Clearly share cause benefits and a call to action

Be sure not to:

Create skepticism between brand and cause

Sell audience on cause without social connection

Focus primarily on your brand and story

List multiple benefits of cause with choices to act

We hope that you will consider how your own brand might align with a cause and use some of the tips we’ve provided.

*Photo by Ariana Kaminski on Unsplash

About the Author Paul Wright

Paul Wright is the founder of WVS Courses and Coaching, and is passionate about helping entrepreneurs launch and grow new enterprises. He especially enjoys working with social innovators who create a greater good in the world with their businesses.

Get In Touch