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Marketing With A Cause

By Bigg Success Staff

Bigg on Small Business


Cause-based marketing is hot … and getting hotter. So says a recent survey by Cone, the brand strategy and communications agency. Cone conducts this survey approximately every three years to track the evolution of cause marketing.

Here are some tidbits from their 2007 Cause Evolution Survey:

87 percent of the people surveyed said they would switch to a brand associated with a good cause, if quality and price are about equal. That’s up from 66 percent in 1993.

77 percent said they consider a company’s commitment to social issues when they make a decision on where to work. It was 48 percent as recently as 2001.

66 percent state that it is a factor in deciding where to invest their money, compared to 40 percent in 2001.

Customer. Employees. Investors. They all increasingly believe that businesses have a social responsibility in addition to their profit-making function.

"Cause marketing has come of age," says Carol Cone, chairman and founder, Cone, LLC. "Consumers expect companies to support social issues, and companies have responded in a variety of ways, from multi-year, multimillion dollar commitments, to something as simple as adding a ribbon to a package or ad and donating funds to a nonprofit. The 'ribbonization' is no longer breaking through—so, in the past year, the likelihood of consumers to use word-of-mouth communications has dropped. Companies must now identify the issues that have the most relevance for both target stakeholders and their business. And, their social issue programs must be authentic, sustainable, transparent, and well-communicated."

So you’re convinced. You want to do well by doing good. How do you go about it?

Pick a cause
Ninety percent of the survey respondents said that your cause should be related to your business practices. Leverage your strengths to make the greatest impact for the causes you support.

What causes match your values?

What causes relate to your line of business?

What competitive advantages can you bring to the causes you support?

For example, a homebuilder may help an organization dedicated to creating housing for disadvantaged people.

With that in mind, here are the four favorite causes cited in the survey:

Health came in first place, chosen by 80 percent of the respondents. There was a three-way tie for second place, with 77 percent of respondents selecting these issues – education, environment, and economic development (job creation, income generation, wealth accumulation).

Communicate your message
There are many ways to get the word out about your campaign – paid advertising, e-mail, events, and the internet, to name a few.

Your campaign should be in harmony with all your other marketing efforts. See if your partner for the cause will allow you to use their logo in your marketing materials. Encourage them to use your logo in their promotional literature.

Educate your constituents and let them know how they can help. Consumers are seeking out companies who back a cause they love and will spread the word to their friends when they find a good lead.

To get that word-of-mouth, you’ll need a message that informs and inspires. Educate people on the cause and tell the story in an emotionally-compelling way.

A final word
Your cause should be … well, your cause. First and foremost, it should be something you really believe in. You need to be able to articulate the vision – why it’s important to help out this particular cause, what your organization brings to the table, how it will benefit the community, and why people should get involved.

If you do it solely for profit, you’ll be disappointed. Cause marketing is a long-term strategy – not a one-time shot. Expect that going in – commit to consistently communicating a message over time. That’s how you’ll make a difference in your business by making a difference.

You can do well by marketing with a cause.

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(Image by Zac-Attack, CC 2.0)