Triple Win of Cause Marketing
“We know we can do well by doing good,” said Louis
Gerstner, Jr. while Chairman of American Express Travel Services,
the company widely credited with coining (and trademarking) the term
“cause related marketing” in 1983. That year, American Express set
out to raise funds and awareness for the Statue of Liberty
Restoration Project, while at the same time increasing new
applications and usage of their card; goals not previously thought
of as compatible. At the end of a three-month $4 million dollar
cause-related marketing campaign, the Restoration project had
received an additional $1.7 million, new card applications were up
45 percent and usage of the American Express Card had increased by
45 percent over the previous year … a major win for all parties.
Over the last 25 years,
more and more companies have realized that, like American Express,
they don’t have to choose between being “missionary” or “mercenary,”
and cause marketing has become over a billion dollar industry. The
good news is any business can employ simple marketing principles
intersecting corporate business goals and objectives with the needs
of society and achieve extraordinary benefits for all parties.
most opportunities in life, one often asks the question, “What’s in
it for me?” Therefore, in order to ensure cause marketing is
maximally successful, non-profits, for-profits and individuals each
have to win – a triple win – meaning the benefits of each
one’s involvement exceeds their investment of time, money and
example of the triple win would be the aftermarket automotive
service provider that hosts community blood drives and, as a show of
appreciation, rewards each donor with a certificate for a free oil
change. Donors win by receiving a $30 value back for doing a good
deed; the blood service wins by the additional promotional exposure
and increased donations of blood; the automotive service provider
wins by expanding their potential customer base at a hard cost of
only $15 per person. If a customer has a positive experience, they
could potentially become a customer for life.
a breakdown of the benefits a triple win can offer.
support in time, resources and expertise.
Gets access to a
company’s customers, employees and suppliers.
Obtains leverage for
additional marketing and PR opportunities to promote their cause
or donations (the bottom line).
Viewed as a socially
Customers/clients/public feels good about (elevated public
differentiation in an increasing crowded and changing
Enhanced marketing and
Employees and potential
recruits feel good about you
Increased business (the
Exposed to a new
opportunity to make a difference.
Feels good about making
Is viewed by others as
one who makes a difference.
May receive value back
as a part supporting or making a contribution to the cause
the triple win in a bank’s campaign featuring a picture of a woman
with the headline, “I opened a checking account and helped find a
cure.” For every new checking account opened or Visa Check card
issued, the bank would donate $100 in the customer’s name to the
charity of his or her choice. Bank customers feel good about making
a difference, the bank builds their reputation as a good corporate
citizen and the non-profits receive additional funding they
otherwise would not have had.
highly committed companies promote that they donate a percentage of
their profits to local causes, while others create specific
promotions around a cause related to their industry. Real examples
include a shoe retailer that encourages the donation of used shoes
for the needy, partnering with a local television station to create
added exposure for the campaign. Another example is a dry cleaner
that encourages customers (and future customers) to drop off used
coats over the holidays, which they will clean and then donate to
the Salvation Army. In the automotive world, a car dealership
promoted a donation to the local children’s hospital for every test
business in any industry of any size should consider what
contribution they can offer to make a difference. While you may not
believe your company is large enough or has the funds to invest in
cause marketing, your contribution does not always have to be in the
form of dollars; it may be your time, expertise or the resources of
your staff, customers or suppliers. Select a non-profit
organization or cause that you (and your organization) are most
passionate about. Is it feeding hungry children, finding homes for
abandoned animals, caring for the elderly, or building homes for the
homeless that could benefit from your company’s involvement?
businesses have specific goals, the same should be true in cause
marketing. What is the targeted outcome? Is it to raise a
designated number of pounds of food or a targeted goal for blood
donations, and by when? The biggest impact will be made with a
long-term commitment. After a cause is chosen, a campaign theme
developed and that theme is reproduced over and over, the frequency
and consistency will provide for greater exposure and greater
results year after year. To maximize the marketing component of
cause marketing, choose strategic promotional partners (inside and
outside the media) where you can leverage your investment of time
and dollars to achieve greater results.
genuine and more authentic a company is, the more successful they
will be. If cause marketing is part of a well-conceived and
well-executed strategy it will be perceived the way it was intended,
as opposed to an orchestrated PR campaign crafted only to improve an
image in the marketplace.
marketing is all about promoting the good deeds and contributions of
good companies to help good causes. Some individuals and companies
would prefer to make anonymous contributions without receiving the
credit, however, for those that want to elevate their standing in
the marketplace and in their community, promoting a contribution is
not only good for their business, it can be very good for the cause.
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about Michael Guld.
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