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BizReport : Advertising : October 07, 2010

For a cause: 3 tips for cause marketing campaigns

"Donate: it's for a good cause." While this may sound like an okay call to action for a cause marketing campaign, the truth is, calls to action aren't the most important things in this type of campaign. Instead, consumers want to know why they should join in, what their help will do for the cause - and for the community. Read on for some tips in creating a 2010 holiday cause marketing campaign.

by Kristina Knight

"Not to sound repetitive, we believe the causes that work 'best' are the causes that most resonate with a company's customers," said Jana Taylor, Vice President of Marketing with Benevity, a software company that helps companies build cause marketing and other corporate giving programs. "There is a growing body of evidence that shows that consumers (and employees) are looking to companies to give them opportunities to support causes they care about."

"Consumer expectations are changing - customers in a wide variety of industries are sending a clear message that they want to see cause-related activities from companies," said Megan Strand, InCouraged Communications. "Due to the economic conditions the world over, you'll tend to see more basic needs causes: things like drinking water (internationally), hunger and homelessness."

And, while the impact of the campaign from a business standpoint may be how engaged the consumer becomes with the brand, from a consumer standpoint the end result is different. Consumers want to know they are really making a difference, not just providing a knee-jerk reaction to effective marketing. How can brands choose campaigns which will have the biggest impact?

"I think the values match and communications pieces are more important than the cause du jour," said Strand. "[It is] better to choose a cause that truly resonates with your organization that go with a cause that seems 'popular.'"

"[One] example is Starbucks with the launch of their recent digital network that includes a Causes channel where people can make donations to to fund local educational projects," said Taylor. "There are definitely pillars that hold broad appeal: health charities, children's charities and environmental charities, but ultimately causes are a very personal thing. We're big fans of enabling increased choice - i.e. giving corporations and customers more choice in terms of where to donate as part of a cause related offer."

And, don't forget that different demographics will skew toward donating more money or time (volunteering) differently.

"Younger demographics have a high appetite for sustainability and giving back, yet lack the means of the Boomers and other [demographics]," said Taylor. "In order to be effective, the cause needs to matter to the customers of the brand. Sometimes, even though there is a direct or logical connection between the brand and the cause if the cause doesn't really appeal, there may be little or no take up beyond that one slice of the market."

"We're all looking for meaning in our daily existence. We want to help but we don't always know how," said Strand. "If companies we trust provide some direction, all the better. Give us a chance to vote with our dollars and we'll choose a brand that stands for something to which we can relate. It makes us feel more of a connection to the companies with whom we interact and with society at large."

You can read the first in this two part series, "What To Expect from 2010 Holiday Cause Campaigns", by clicking here.

Tags: 2010 holidays, Benevity, cause campaigns, cause marketing, InCouraged Communications

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