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Taking Action: Become a Cause Marketer

If there are things you don’t like in the world you grew up in, make your own life different.”

– Dave Thomas

Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption (Wendy’s)

How must your company change in order to get to that next level of growth, respect, and profitability?

Well, many experts swear by the creation of a commitment to make the world a better place, a vision that transcends the quarterly bottom line.

Cause Marketing Can Make A Difference

Edelman, a national PR powerhouse, annually conducts a survey of cause-driven marketing. Results of the latest survey make a strong argument for companies to look beyond the basics – traditional workforce values like productivity, honest communications, innovation and a commitment to quality – when they strive to increase profitability and performance.

A new tier of attributes has come to the fore, according to the study, commanding a new kind of vision from corporate leaders. This new paradigm focuses on the higher expectations of today’s consumers, who say they want Corporate America to:

  • Make progress on environmental initiatives
  • Partner with third parties to solve major global problems
  • Commit resources to the public good

It is important to recognize that cause-based marketing is a supplement – albeit a potent weapon in today’s social and commercial climate – to the basics of excellence and innovation.

Cause marketing builds on two cornerstones of traditional loyalty marketing: identifying trends/opportunities, and increasing customer conversion rates.

The current advocacy of green values, for example, might wither as quickly as it blossomed in the new millennium. Such a turn toward Gordon Gekko-like introspection might leave companies high and dry if those “basics” are not at the core of any marketing program. But consider the strong arguments, given the current landscape, for incorporating cause-based marketing:

  • 71% of consumers think brands/companies spend too much on advertising and marketing – and should put more into good causes (up from 62% in 2008).
  • 64% of consumers would recommend a brand that supports a good cause (up from 52%).
  • 59% of consumers would help a brand promote its products if there was a good cause behind it.
  • Nearly two-thirds of people (65%) have greater trust in a brand that is ethically and socially responsible
  • In the past year, 61% of consumers bought a brand that supports a good cause even if it was not the cheapest brand.

The report, in short, makes a strong argument for cause marketing as an invaluable tool to embrace largely unexplored opportunities with cause-committed customers who are strongly inclined to be converted to like-minded companies.

A corporation can be charitable and community-minded by making cash, in-kind and volunteer-time commitments to “good causes.” But cause marketers build on that tradition to place the reputation of a valued brand behind to cause – leveraging that involvement to position a product and differentiate that brand from competitors on an ongoing basis.

Such strategies are almost sure to benefit the corporate bottom line AND to motivate employees, giving them a sense of purpose beyond dollars-and-cents considerations.

Cause marketing showcases a new generation of business leaders who exhibit a new level of compassionate commitment to take a sensible risk, bolster reputation and create opportunities. These new-age corporate citizens are becoming the face of change in support of the nonprofit agencies spearheading the changes to come.

Sallie Burnett
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