According to Harvard Business Review bloggers William Rosen and Laurence Minsky,
“A powerful confluence of challenging economic conditions and emerging digital platforms is driving a substantial shift in the marketing world. While the economic environment is forcing marketing decision makers to focus more on ROI, digital platforms from social media to mobile are enabling more personalized and trackable marketing communications.
To adapt to the changing landscape, what’s needed is a shift from building brands to “activating” them — from simply projecting what a brand is to optimizing what a brand does in order to move people closer to transaction. This is the Activation Imperative.“
They go on to say:
“One of the most effective ways to create future activation is to deliver a uniquely positive consumer experience that memorably conveys a strong sense of the brand and the role it can play in the consumer’s life.”
Therein lies an enormous opportunity for cause marketers! Let’s break it down:
Deliver: Set specific partnership goals and deliver on them. Measure, adjust, repeat.
Uniquely: What’s your USP (unique selling proposition) and your fresh twist?
Positive: What’s the community impact? Tell the story!
Consumer: It’s all about targeting. Know your audiences and their motivations.
Experience: Activation, activation, activation!
Memorably: Leverage emotion and creativity.
Convey: Have a solid PR & marketing plan.
Strong Sense of Brand: The corporate & cause brands should shine.
The Role it Plays in the Consumer’s Life: Make it personal and actionable.
In sum, more than ever, brands are looking for targeted consumer engagement opportunities that support their internal objectives. Leverage the power of cause and execute strategic activation elements to create a sweet spot for triple bottom line value.
Here’s an example of a highly strategic and targeted cause program with excellent activation and ROI for the brand and the cause (in this case, local high schools).
THE FORD MOTOR COMPANY: DRIVE ONE 4 UR SCHOOL
The Ford Motor Company’s highly successful “Drive One 4 UR School” test-drive program brings together local dealerships and neighborhood high schools to raise money for extracurricular activities. The program got its start in 2007 and has become Ford’s most successful test-drive initiative ever, with some 1,500 events held in 49 states since then, garnering approximately 255,000 test drives—and raising more than $5 million for before- and after-school activities across the country. Check out this video to see the action first hand.
Ford took home the 2011 Best Activation of a Cause Sponsorship/Tie-in top honor given by Women In Event Marketing for this program.
2010 ACTIVATION DETAILS INCLUDED:
- Ford or Lincoln Mercury dealers partnered with high schools to host a one-day test drive event.
- Dealers registered exclusively at the Drive One 4 UR School website for one of two sessions: Spring 2010 (February to June) and Fall 2010 (August to November).
- Each dealer received an ‘event-in-a-box’ kit about four to six weeks prior to the event day from program headquarters. The kits contained promotional items to help host the event, including branded banners, posters, floor graphics, vehicle magnets, window clings, staff t-shirts, lanyards, a ground stencil and spray chalk, directional signs, balloons, a tent, pens, participant thank-you cards and magnet giveaways.
- For support, program headquarters set up a dedicated email and phone hotline, as well as a website accessible to all dealerships and high schools, providing best practices and downloadable creative materials to help excite students and their families.
- Ford also set up an online enrollment system that streamlined the registration process and gave dealers an easily accessible information portal with downloadable event calendars used by suppliers and vendors for shipping dates, cutting event checks and pulling valuable metrics.
- NOTE: Social Media and PR elements were not indicated, but there is a dedicated Facebook page: www.facebook.com/DriveOne4URSchool
- By the conclusion of the 2010 program, dealers had hosted 764 Drive One 4 UR School test drive events with more than 140,000 total behind-the-wheel experiences.
- Survey results showed that participants’ favorable opinion of Ford also increased by 18 percent after their test drive.
- At the conclusion of the 120-day sales window for each event, Drive One 4 UR School had a 1.51 percent buy rate, the highest buy rate of any Ford or Lincoln Mercury test drive program.
- The program was also cost-effective with a short-term ROI of 196 percent and a total program ROI of 613 percent. It raised more than $2.6 million for high school activities nationwide.
Ford’s 2011 Drive One 4 UR School program is placing a special focus on Ford fuel efficiency and technology. Click here to learn more.