Cause marketing is a popular tactic among businesses and integrated communications professionals. There’s good reason for its popularity, as nearly 95 percent of U.S. consumers say they have a more positive image of companies that support a cause.
But should driving revenue and maintaining brand loyalty – 90 percent of U.S. consumers admitted to being more loyal to companies that back causes – be the primary reason for companies to assist organizations making a real difference in the world? No, of course not. The primary reason should be to join such organizations in making a difference – helping them to expand their reach and to achieve their objective.
Does that sound a bit Pollyannaish? Probably, but it’s still true. For if a company simply initiates a cause marketing campaign for the sake of driving sales, today’s consumers are smart (and jaded) enough to see through such a ruse. Thus, more harm than good may result for the company (See Starbucks’ Race Together campaign).
If the company you work for decides to launch a cause campaign, here are a few pieces of advice:
- – Keep it simple and grounded. You’re not going to serve world hunger, but that food drive you’ve coordinated with a number of community partners will have a major impact on food crisis in your community.
- – Start small, think big. While this seems in conflict with the previous point, simple and grounded programs may start small, but if they are done properly they can grow into more substantial initiatives.
- – Welcome and promote engagement with your staff. The more passionate your team is about the cause, the more likely the campaign will be successful.
- – Align the campaign with the company’s core values. If the cause is an extension of your company’s existing values, messaging – internal and external – will be more effective.
Two Men and a Truck’s Movers for Moms® program is an excellent example of an effective cause marketing initiative. Created by Lambert, Movers for Moms was developed for the moving company’s Michigan franchises based on their long track record of working individually to support their communities. Partnering with local schools and businesses in their communities to collect items for domestic violence survivors living in shelters on Mother’s Day, Movers for Moms was hugely successful in Michigan.
After several years of exclusively running the campaign in Michigan, Two Men and a Truck’s corporate office rolled it out to other markets over the course of several years until the program was running across its entire footprint. Today, more than 320 Two Men and a Truck franchises have joined Movers for Moms, helping collect essential items assisting hundreds of thousands of women throughout the country.
Joe DiBenedetto is a senior director at Lambert