Cause Marketing 101: Personal Satisfaction, Business Results and a Better World

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This morning I had the pleasure of hearing from author David Hessekiel, author of Good Works! Marketing and Corporate Initiatives that Build a Better World…and the Bottom Line.  I’m always looking for ways to unlock the potential of new media and technology to make the world a better place, and how to translate that potential into action and he shared some great tactics for small companies.  He calls it strategic philanthropy  – when a company targets charitable efforts to help society and a business through not just cash contributions, but also goods, services, volunteers and promotions.

I’ve seen cause marketing work its magic in several forms.  I worked at one large company long ago, well before social media even existed as we know it now, where we had a whole day of advocacy and gave the staff about a dozen options of volunteer work around NYC.  They helped the homeless, they worked in soup kitchens, they assisted in hospitals.  I was in charge of finding the organizations who were ready and willing to host them for the day.  I set up sign-up forms and hung them in a common area on a wall where employees had to sign up for a placement.  When the day came, I watched as each one embraced their commitment and ran with it.  At the end of the day, we had sent 500 eager people to help out the city of NYC. Last year, I figured out to use the social resources at hand for a client when we joined forces with a major children’s hospital and promoted a campaign that gave them a profit of our sales.  The satisfaction of knowing that my labor helped sick children remains a highlight of my working career and it was all due to the power of social media marketing. Several months later, I was flown down to Memphis where I witnessed the fruits of my labor and was given a tour around the hospital (yes, I am speaking about St. Jude).  Seeing and meeting the children meant everything.

So, I was keenly interested in the topic, and I thought I’d share some of what Hessekiel shared.  Besides, it might get your mind going and lead to something REAL and BIG.

First he talked about the six kinds of cause marketing initiatives that a company can employ:

Cause promotion – providing an incentive to support a business’ cause.  A good example he provided is Macy’s Reading is Fundamental program.  A customer could give $3 to provide a book for a child and get $10 off a $50 purchase at Macy’s.  The campaign raised $4.9 million to encourage literacy.

Cause-related marketing – when a corporation links monetary or in-kind donations to product sales or other consumer actions. Hessekiel used Tom’s Shoes as a good example.  When Toms sells a pair of shoes a pair of shoes is given to an impoverished child, and when Toms sells a pair of eyewear, part of the profit is used to save or restore the eyesight for people in developing countries.

Corporate social marketing – when a corporation supports the development of the business to impact change.  Energizer executed compassion for fire safety and encouraged people that when they change a clock in the fall, they change the battery in their fire alarm. The campaign no doubt saved lives.

Corporate philanthropy – when corporations helps others by giving money.  Samuel Adams is a good example, they help small businesses regularly.

Workforce volunteering – when a company encourages volunteers to get out there.  FedEx launched a program to keep kids safe on the street and employees set forth to help them.

Socially responsive business practices – when a corporation adopts and conducts discretionary business practices and investments that support causes.  Whole Foods came up with safe policies about what fish they can sell: Seafood Sustainability. This raised consumer confidence.

Hessekiel finished up the session with action items on how to get started in Cause Marketing:

– Identify some objectives that are in sync with your business.

– Start with a modest goal.

As Hessekiel rightly stated, the benefits of cause marketing are three-fold: Personal satisfaction, business results and a better world. It can add a whole new dimension to what a business is doing.

If you can figure out how to make a difference using your resources, do it. It’s a powerful tool that has the power to change the world.

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  1. Thank you so much for posting this. Monday I have a girl scout meeting and we will start working on cookie “give back” badge. I was planning on giving examples of Ronald McDonald house and toms shoes but your list is so much better
    This is so perfect. Thanks so much

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