Cause Marketing – Latest Fad or Good for My BusinessYou may have heard the term “cause marketing” but do not understand what the term means, much less why you would consider spending your local business’s precious time and money working on such a thing.

Here is a basic definition from the Cause Marketing Forum: “Cause marketing encompasses a wide variety of commercial activity that aligns a company or brand with a cause to generate business and societal benefits.”

In other words, cause marketing is a way to encourage your customers, vendors, and/or sphere of influence to do or buy a specific product – and in so doing, allow your business to donate to a cause. This provides a mutual benefit to your business and the cause you support.

It has been proven that consumers are more likely to purchase a product or service if they know that a portion of the proceeds are going to a cause about which they care passionately – consider the explosive growth in both the presence and the coffers of some charitable organizations. There are also well known parallels between companies that give any kind of resources to their immediate community and the subsequent, tremendous goodwill and public relations (and with any luck, increased sales) generated.

Some important statistics to consider:

  • In 2010, cause marketing was a $1.62 billion industry, up from $120 million in 1990.
  • 83% of Americans want to buy products and services that support causes (most often regardless of demographics that tend to skew results, such as the younger generations’ involvement with various causes based on their perceived responsibility to “fix” the previous generations’ societal oversights).
  • Nearly half the consumers in one study said that companies should focus on issues that impact local communities.

It’s about local businesses helping local communities. And if you are already supporting causes that you care about with time, money, skills or donations, then cause marketing is a way to combine your business goals with personal growth.

Here are some questions to help you decide whether a cause campaign would be right for your business:

What are you and your employees passionate about?

It is always easier and more fun when you are excited about the work you are doing. Find an organization that you and your employees all agree to support and – more importantly – believe in.  Ensure that the organization’s goals dovetail with your business’s mission.

What could you give?

Cause marketing works best when you can give more than just dollars. Consider donating products, services or even giving employees a day off to volunteer.

Do you have the time?

Cause marketing does require time, creativity and partnership. Be sure you can spare the effort without sacrificing what you need to do for your business.

What are others doing in your community?

Take a look at successful businesses and your competitors to see what nonprofits or community organizations they are supporting.

Would this give you a marketing advantage?

Cause marketing can differentiate you from your competitors and provide tangible benefits.