I’m sick of nonprofits and businesses whining that they can’t do cause marketing. “It won’t work in my organization, Joe.” Bullshit. Cause marketing has grown into a $1.8 billion industry, according to IEG. It’s time to dive in.
Business or nonprofit, any organization can – and should – do cause marketing. Here are my responses to the top three excuses.
“WE DON’T NEED CAUSE MARKETING”
Let’s break this down along nonprofit and for-profit lines. As a nonprofit, when you say no to cause marketing you’re saying no to raising more money – because that’s what cause marketing does. And I’m not talking pennies and nickels. Cause marketing raises hundreds of millions of dollars for nonprofits each year. Just two organizations, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Kmart raised $22 million last December!
I’ve also argued that business giving is the future of giving in general. As businesses become more socially responsible, they’ll create more and more opportunities for consumers and employees to engage with causes. These opportunities will be offline, online, mobile and all around us. The day your refrigerator asks you to support a good cause may be closer than we all think! Regardless of when it happens, businesses will be pulling the levers and embedding cause marketing in every aspect of our lives.
For businesses, the need for cause marketing may be greater than it is for nonprofits. The reason is simple: people – especially Millennials, men and women under 30 – won’t do business with you if you’re not as committed to purpose as you are to profit. A study from the largest public relations firm in the world, Edelman, showed that 87% of the people on the planet think businesses should put equal weight on business and society.
The bottom line is that your organization needs cause marketing.
“CAUSE MARKETING ISN’T RIGHT FOR MY ORGANIZATION”
This is such bunk, but I hear it all the time. Nonprofits think because their cause is boring they can’t be part of the “cool crowd” (e.g. Oprah, U2’s Bono) that dominates cause marketing. I bet that’s what people thought about cause marketing for men with prostate cancer. Gosh, who would want to support that! Well, Movember has cause marketing pacts with Gillette, British Airways, Quaker Oats and many others. Every nonprofit can do cause marketing when they are committed to having an impact and building an army of supporters.
Companies that don’t think cause marketing is right for their business either don’t have a creative bone in their bodies or haven’t bothered to go online to see the many examples of how companies have supported causes.
Heck, even the online adult entertainment site, Pornhub.com, has raised money for breast cancer causes. No one would take their money – as they shouldn’t – but you have to give the smut site credit for thinking they could do cause marketing like any other company.
Many business-to-business companies think that cause marketing is taboo and only suited for retailers, restaurants, department stores and other businesses that deal directly with consumers.
Fortunately, SCA Tork is a company that’s not afraid to try something new. In 2012, SCA Tork, a maker of hygiene products for the food service industry, launched a fundraiser for Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry. The fundraiser involved SCA Tork’s Xpressnap Dispensers – a cool name for a napkin dispenser. For the last four months of the year the dispensers were discounted from $8 to $2 and $1 per dispenser was donated to No Kid Hungry.
The fundraiser surpassed SCA Tork’s goal. It also doubled the average monthly sales of Tork’s napkin dispensers! If you think your business isn’t the right fit or “cool” enough for cause marketing, think again. If Tork can do it with its napkin dispenser so can you!
“CAUSE MARKETING IS HARD TO DO”
If you knew how valuable cause marketing is to your organization, you wouldn’t be complaining about the work. Still, it’s not as hard as you think.
For nonprofits, the key to cause marketing success isn’t cold-calling and harassing businesses. It’s about tapping the assets you already have and becoming a magnet that will pull companies into your organization. A fuller explanation of this is beyond the scope of this post, but I explain myself more fully here.
For businesses, your support for a cause needn’t be complicated, and you certainly don’t need to create something “new.” Good cause marketing is about leveraging your every day assets.
If you’re a retailer with multiple stores that enjoy high foot traffic your cashiers can easily ask shoppers to donate a buck or two. That’s your asset. If you are an accounting firm with 50 employees that’s an asset you can put to work for a food pantry that needs people-power. If you’re a car dealership prospective buyers want a test drive. Let customers drive for a cause and thank them with a donation to their favorite nonprofit.
Pressed for ideas for your business. Don’t worry, I have 40 of them!
So, what is really holding you back from doing cause marketing? Let us know in the comments below and we’ll show you that the “C” in cause marketing stands for another word: CAN-DO!