by Savannah Marie
Companies are always trying to generate more business and attract new customers. Meanwhile, some titans of industry build a second career by giving back to the society that made them successful. Both strategies take a lot of work, which may be one reason why cause marketing has become so popular.
Many businesses are involved in charitable giving, either by creating foundations or sponsoring philanthropic events. Cause marketing, by contrast, ties sales success to giving. The more you buy, the more they give away. If you haven’t considered cause marketing for your businesses, here are a few reasons why you should.
A Stellar Reputation
A company’s reputation can be tarnished if it pays appalling wages, uses child labor or hurts animals or the environment. On the other hand, a company that actively raises money for important causes gets noticed by consumers, other businesses and the media.
Interestingly, this reputation often has nothing to do with the actual amount given. The 2013 list of the most charitable companies includes several vilified corporations. And yet, their donations far surpass those of cause-related companies like Newman’s Own and The Body Shop. Why? In part, because these companies separated marketing from philanthropy.
A growing number of consumers buy from companies that donate time and money to causes they support. Nearly half of them say they’d pay more for a product if the company was giving back to society. In other words, helping others is a good way for companies to help themselves.
Dove created its own cause with the launch of the campaign for Real Beauty. Unilever developed the Dove Self-Esteem Fund in 2004 with the hope of inspiring women to develop a positive body image, no matter their size.
Greater Share of Attention
Companies spend millions of dollars to get people to talk about them. They do this because publicity leads to conversation, which leads to greater brand awareness and recall. Cause marketing does all of this, but it can also raise awareness of an important issue.
Dove is one of the first names you think of when talking about beauty products. Thanks to the Dove Real Beauty campaign, in which girls and young women discover how much artifice goes into creating their image of beauty, it may also be the only beauty product associated with improving the self-image of women everywhere.
More Motivated Employees
It takes a lot to keep employees motivated. Low pay, lack of opportunity and less-than-ideal working conditions can force people out the door. This costs money and productivity, but cause marketing can stop the exodus by giving employees a greater sense of purpose.
Vodafone saw this firsthand when it partnered with the National Autistic Society in Britain. The telecom firm tested its ideas among a wide range of stakeholders, including employees, before launching the program. This made buy-in easier, and as a result the staff was heavily involved in NAS-related events and raised £106,000 during the first year of the program.
Changing People’s Lives
For all the good your business sees from cause marketing, your efforts ultimately help people in difficult circumstances. When your marketing efforts make a difference in people’s lives, everyone associates your brand with a good deed.
McDonald’s has been the subject of bad press, but not because of its giving. Walk into any restaurant and you’ll see a canister collecting coins for Ronald McDonald House charities. To customers, it’s only a nickel or dime. To 7 million children and families around the world served by the organization, it’s a gift.
Cause marketing presents a tremendous financial, social, and psychological boost to your business. The benefits to society, however, can be far greater.
Savannah Marie is a freelance writer and proud Tulane University alum. When she isn’t dreaming about Mardi Gras and king cake, she is stalking social trends, interesting guerrilla marketing campaigns and anything related to online marketing. She is also a consultant for 12 Keys.