best practice: – n: the recognized methods of correctly running businesses or providing services.
The key to establishing best practices in a cause marketing partnership is to infuse the concept of BALANCE. We’ve heard terms like “win-win” used over and over in our industry. While that concept is a vital component of successful cause marketing, the type of BALANCE I’m suggesting is this:
Activation is key
Norms and measurement
In our first post on this issue, I covered the importance of Building strong partnerships and Activation.
In Part 2 of this BALANCE series, I will address how to Leverage Assets for Cause Partnership success.
In the 2009 PRWeek/Barkley study. CEO’s were asked what benefits they had seen from cause marketing efforts. Top benefits listed included:
- enhanced brand reputation (72%)
- public relations results (70%)
- improvement in employee morale and retention (58%)
- enhanced relationship with target demographics (52%)
Notice that the top answer from the corporate leadership perspective is not sales! The most common mistake I’ve seen in my years practicing cause partnership is the failure to transform programs beyond a sales promotion to a truly integrated platform. For better efforts, introduce program elements that created integration and deliver on the benefits listed above.
Leverage Communications Assets
Leverage all possible assets such as, communications vehicles-from print to social media, as well as databases that can be utilized through a cost-effective email campaign or newsletter (both parties often have databases and the reach can be tremendous). And, when establishing the communication plan, be sure to include messaging strategies for internal audiences such as the corporate partner’s employees and the nonprofit’s volunteers and donors.
Leverage External and Internal Fundraising
For optimal success and to create a more affordable plan, I encourage you to think creatively about how to introduce external and internal fundraising strategies into your cause partnerships. Corporate marketing budgets are a great starting point for a cause partnership, but the addition of a consumer fundraising element can generate significant results. Of course, point-of-purchase fundraisers such as an “add a dollar” or “pin up” campaigns are successful, but commonplace. Recently, many innovative corporate cause marketers are offering a consumer reward for making a donation to their cause partner. An innovative campaign rolled out by Stein Mart in 2010 called “Give and Save Charity Days” rewarded $5 donors with 15% off your entire purchase coupon, http://charity.steinmart.com/. Clearly, this promotion benefited both parties-the charity received donations and Stein Mart drove traffic to their stores.
When making your plans to leverage all assets possible, don’t overlook the value of employee contributions! For Momentum’s client, Holiday Inn, introduced innovative ways to incorporate their employees and franchises into their charitable support plans. We developed exciting events featuring Holiday Inn-sponsored sports celebrities such as NASCAR driver, Jeff Burton. Employees and franchises stood in line for the chance to have a photo taken with Jeff and the Holiday Inn race car, all in exchange for a $5 donation for the cause.
Leverage Gifts In-Kind
And, last but certainly not least, don’t overlook the value of strategic contributed goods and services. In addition to cost-saving donations of items such as beverages or food for special events, think creatively about what other value the corporate partner can add via donation of services. Perhaps the corporate partner can provide printing for free or at a discounted rate. Nonprofits would welcome the donation of professional services such as creation of program logos and campaign materials. And, most of all, corporations can bring significant in-kind value by including cause promotional messaging in their advertising campaigns.
So, as you can see, the most successful campaigns Leverage the Assets of both partners. In our next blog post feature on Cause Partnership Best Practices, we will address A=Acknowledge Efforts.
We hope you’ll come back and read more in our continuing series on BALANCE for cause partnership success.