Consumers love brands that give back. There’s no question about it. That’s why theCause Marketing Forum predicts that cause sponsorship will reach $2 billion this year, a 3.7 percent increase from 2015.
Millennials, in particular, are a socially aware bunch, but every generation wants to support brands that make them feel good. An alliance with a good cause could mean the difference between brand loyalty and passive indifference.
Here are some ways to activate a cause marketing program that will boost your challenger brand’s reputation and align with your business goals.
Choose a cause with special meaning. With so many worthy causes, it can be difficult to choose just one or you may be inclined to go pink because everyone else is. Pick the cause with the greatest potential for appealing to your customer’s emotions. Perhaps the brand’s founder suffered from an illness, the employees are rallying around a cause, or there’s been a recent disaster; these are cues that a cause is a good fit and your good intentions will shine.
Go big or go local. Consumers are often under the impression that brands have multi-million dollar budgets. As we know, that’s not always the case for challenger brands. So if you can’t make a sizeable contribution, then consider localizing your support by making a big impact in a key local market.
Make it timely. October is Breast Cancer Awareness month; February is American Heart Month. Nearly every cause has a related day, month or season. Coordinate your promotions so that you can piggyback on the conversation.
Alert the media. Issue a press release announcing your plans. Ask the nonprofit to provide a quote and participate in getting the word out. Explain exactly how the partnership supports the cause. Distribute pictures of your brand’s good deeds in action.
Donate a portion of sales. Ninety percent of consumers will switch brands to one associated with a cause. Offering to donate a portion of sales can help boost your brand and give consumers a reason to switch. This approach can also line up your financial contribution with the success of the campaign.
Give in-kind. Most non-profits prefer cash donations, but don’t rule out an in-kind donation without asking. Your brand’s goods and services can strengthen your impact with your chosen cause. Give free meals to the organization’s volunteers or employees or provide a prize for an auction or raffle.
Ask customers to give. Maximize your impact by asking customers to join in giving. Provide a platform that makes it very easy to donate such as texting or adding a small amount at the point of purchase.
Dress to the occasion. Pink, red and rainbows are colors closely identified to certain causes and provide immediate recognition, but consider other ways to raise awareness with ties, hats, shoes, badges/pin, face paint, or even a fake mustache.
Amplify with social. Give your social followers a clever way of showing their support for your brand and the cause. Make it easy to share from your website, change their profile picture, use a hashtag, describe why the cause is meaningful to them, or share a photo.
Bounce them back. Tie your cause marketing promotion in with a bounce-back offer such as a coupon or freebie for the customer’s next visit.
Even if your challenger brand budget doesn’t allow you to invest in an integrated cause marketing campaign today, find ways to use your brand’s reach to spread a little good. Your customers will notice.