Cause marketing is an effective strategy for promoting your business as well as a charitable cause. Learn what it is and how it works for a long-term approach.
Cause marketing is a type of advertising or promotional campaign that has a dual purpose—to increase sales (profit) while improving the community or society at large. American Express’s 1983 Statue of Liberty Restoration Campaign was one of the earliest cause marketing efforts. Amex committed to donating 1 cent for every card transaction and $1 for each new credit card issued. The campaign raised $1.7 million to restore the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
Today, many companies incorporate cause marketing into their regular marketing strategies—some businesses even build themselves around a cause! TOMS Shoes, Warby Parker Glasses, and Bombas Socks operate on a “buy one, give one” cause marketing model.
How Cause Marketing Works
Cause marketing should increase awareness, brand recognition, and exposure for both the business and the cause or nonprofit.
Cause marketing is most effective when companies find a direct link or synergy between their product or service and the cause they would like to champion. Some companies donate products or services as part of their cause marketing campaign. Others donate money or volunteer hours.
For example, Bombas sells socks and donates socks to homeless shelters because that is the most requested clothing item. They directly connected their product with a global issue. Bombas also donates their employee’s time and energy through regular volunteer days.
Benefits of Cause Marketing
There are a variety of benefits to incorporating cause marketing in your business strategy.
Increase brand loyalty and distinguish yourself from competitors: Businesses who use cause marketing distinguish themselves from their competition and usually see an increase in brand loyalty.
Many studies have demonstrated that, given a choice, consumers will often choose products and services from socially and environmentally responsible companies. Other studies reveal that consumers are willing to switch from one brand to another if the other brand is associated with a charitable cause they value.
Improve employee engagement and morale: Cause marketing can give employee morale a significant boost! About 53% of workers say having a job where they can make a positive impact in the world is essential to their happiness. Committing your business to a worthy cause increases employee engagement and overall satisfaction, especially when you create a variety of ways for employees to participate in the campaign.
Get positive press coverage and increase your visibility: Cause marketing can also bring positive press coverage and good reviews. Whether your business gives money to a local charity, donates supplies to relief efforts, or creates a bigger philanthropic campaign, it almost always results in people viewing your company positively. Customers are usually eager to patronize companies that demonstrate they are not concerned exclusively about their bottom line.
There are many benefits to incorporating cause marketing into your small business marketing strategy. Of course, it’s a long-term strategy, not a short-term solution. Still, cause marketing is an excellent marketing strategy for many small businesses.