Recognizing a Strong Cause Marketing Campaign

Jill Anonson
Jill Anonson

Recognizing cause marketing campaign

The first section of this articles takes a look at how to recognize a successful cause marketing campaign. The second section takes a look at a few successful campaigns, with great cause marketing examples that are sure provide you the inspiration you need to launch a successful campaign of your own.

Cause marketing is the marketing of a for-profit product or business which benefits a nonprofit charity or supports a social cause in some way. More than just a "campaign," 97% of marketing executives believe cause marketing is a valid business strategy.

Just like a business plan, a cause marketing campaign requires careful thought and smart strategy. As much as there are key components to successful cause marketing campaigns, there are an equal number that can result in failure. 

Planning Your Cause Marketing Campaign: 5 Things to Keep In Mind

1. Choose wisely
Authenticity in cause marketing means choosing the right campaign. It doesn’t have to match your line of business, but rather needs to resonate with your audience on a personal level.

Brands these days come with predefined images of what audiences already believe a brand to be, so planning a cause marketing campaign means choosing the cause that’s already aligns well with the image your brand portrays. Choose a cause that’s relevant to the brand and those who receive it. Once you have this connection it becomes easy to tie the cause to your product in a way that the brand can openly discuss.

Related: Discover how Aflac, armed with research from our subsidiary CMB, used the power of discrete choice to reposition its brand.

2. Set goals
As with most marketing strategies, it’s important to have set goals and KPIs identified. Whether it’s to increase brand awareness, strengthen customer relationship or increase employee engagement, having a clear set of goals enables you to focus your cause marketing efforts.

3. Drive emotions
When you identify a real problem in the world and set out to solve it, you immediately go from vendor to visionary. That’s huge for content marketing. The most successful cause marketing campaigns tap into people’s emotions, their need to connect and their search for deeper meaning in their lives. Whether it’s by providing inspiration, or simply making them laugh, tap into anything that people can relate to emotionally.

4. Get visual
Whatever you do, make it look good. The right visual assets will determine the success of your campaign. As you saw with the Ice Bucket Challenge from years ago, video is an extremely powerful tool when it comes to cause marketing. And with the plethora of platforms available these days, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t utilize them. The various video formats—stories and live videos—are also effective tools to catch and keep people’s attentions. Make sure the look and feel of your campaign matches your company as well as the cause.

5. Keep a social mindset
The power of social is crucial to the success of all cause marketing campaigns, with 75% of B2B buyers said to be influenced by social media. Make sure that when you distribute digital materials, you make it as shareable as possible.

If your campaign is not engaging your consumers, you're doing it wrong. Cause marketing is meant for doing good with your consumers.

Aligned with attaching a social mindset to your campaign, highlighting your cause is a vital part of a campaign. People, and not just those involved, should be made aware. When you reach certain benchmarks, celebrate it. Investing in cause marketing entails a lot of efforts and resources from different parties—not showcasing your efforts might put a damper on everyone’s spirit and lead to disengagement.

If you are delivering on all five of these strategies, you’re on track toward planning a great cause marketing campaign.

Next let’s take a look at some cause marketing examples that will hopefully spark a little inspiration of your own. If you are new to cause marketing, this list of great cause marketing examples should give you a good lay of the land.

Doing the Right Thing: 3 Examples of Great Cause Marketing Events

The Home Depot + KaBOOM: 1,000 Playground in 1,000 Days

The Home Depot and KaBOOM took employee volunteerism to new heights with this national three-year program to build great places for kids to play within walking distance of their homes. The program, 1000 Playgrounds in 1000 Days, was a perfect partnership.

In 1996, KaBOOM! decided on a mission: to help children play. Research showed that today's children play less than any other generation. And this lack of physical play is closely linked to childhood obesity, ADD, violence and fragmented communities. So KaBOOM decided to build playgrounds.

KaBOOM served children; The Home Depot served communities. It was an alignment of needs—and a perfect fit. So they became partners.

Not only was The Home Depot swept up by the plan, it invested $25 million dollars, supplied materials and expertise, and nearly 100,000 Home Depot staff donated over 950,000 volunteer hours. 

As a result, KaBOOM was able to reach their bold goal, and the 1,000th playground was built in 2008—impacting over 600,000 children.

And The Home Depot was able to announce their entry into new communities by helping build playgrounds, and their staff felt the goodwill of working for a company that supports an important cause.

Tide + Matthew: 25 Ministries: Loads of Hope

Tide’s Loads of Hope has been around since 2005, when Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, and since then has been traveling across the country to help devastated areas affected by natural disasters. They’ve visited Fargo, North Dakota after the flooding they experienced; Galveston, Texas after Hurricane Ike struck; San Diego, California in 2008, after the dangerous wildfires took hold, and several other places nationwide too. And it’s only expanded from there. Tide’s Loads of Hope program has been providing clean clothing for families in the midst of chaos through its community outreach program. With a mobile laundromat, Tide is able to bring hope to devastated regions and has provided hundreds of families in need with washed, dried and folded laundry on each visit.

Since 2005, Tide has helped renew hope for more than 48,000 families across the country affected by natural disasters.

Powered by Matthew: 25 Ministries, a top-ranked, international humanitarian aid and disaster relief organization, the trucks are equipped with high-efficiency washers and dryers donated by Whirlpool and can do up to 300 loads of laundry per day for communities in need.

Maker’s Mark + One Warm Coat: Give Cozy, #GetCozy

Throughout the month of December 2015, the Maker’s Mark Give Cozy, #GetCozy truck made stops in various cities across the country to offer people the opportunity to donate their lightly used or spare jackets to those in need. All donations went to One Warm Coat, a non-profit organization helping provide those in need with a warm coat, free of charge. The idea behind the holiday season campaign was to show it doesn’t take expensive gifts and extravagant parties to spread some Christmas cheer.

In the spirit of the season, the Maker’s Mark Give Cozy, #GetCozy truck also offered delicious hot chocolate, Maker’s Mark inspired gingerbread cookies (shaped like little bottles) as well as custom made Makers Mark ugly sweater bottle sweaters, encouraging those who stopped by to spread the gift of warmth and cheer during the busy holiday season. Those who participated were also given exclusive invites to evening sampling events which offered product showcase and tasting supporting local distributors, and bars along with driving trial and consequent sale.

By being able to recognize a solid cause marketing campaign, you can better strategize how to put one together for your own brand. People want to spend on brands that show they care because they share the brands’ values and feel like participants in their socially conscious efforts. A carefully chosen, brand-relevant cause can grow and evolve over time, magnifying the impact on benefactors and the company. That’s why it’s so important to strive for authenticity with the right partnership. When it’s done well, the partnership will feel obvious and seamlessly connect with your brand’s customers.

Want more ideas about how you can engage your customers? Check out our ebook on growing your brand with immersive experiences.

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Jill Anonson

Jill Anonson

Jill Anonson has over 20 years of diverse experience in event management, incentive travel and sales strategy, and serves as the Events Strategy Advisor at ITA Group. Focused on continuous improvement and challenging standards, she consults clients and team members with impactful strategies and innovative ideas that deliver successful business outcomes. She is a Certified Engagement Practitioner, and certified through Pragmatic Marketing.