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Common Cause Marketing Mistakes

Cause marketing has many rewards. But it also has hazards, and you need to be clear on the mistakes that can damage your marketing program or keep it from ever getting started.

Choosing the wrong cause or company for your program

Companies that fail to choose the right nonprofit for their cause marketing campaign run the risk of building their program on a weak foundation. Employees and customers may respond indifferently, or worse. That’s hardly the way for a company to earn its cause marketing halo.

Causes that choose the wrong companies can alienate donors and threaten their prospects for future partnerships. Causes must be careful not to put money before mission.

The guiding principles for causes and companies when choosing a partner are sincerity, authenticity, commitment, and transparency.

Viewing cause marketing as philanthropy, not marketing

While cause marketing certainly has a philanthropic objective, giving is not its primary focus. Companies engage in cause marketing to enhance their favorability with existing and potential customers. If their goals were strictly philanthropic, they could donate the money to causes and be done with it. Cause marketing allows companies to put their marketing muscle to work on behalf of the cause while promoting themselves and increasing the potential donation to the cause.

If nonprofits view cause marketing as philanthropy instead of marketing, they may not fully grasp the potential of a practice that is generally better at building awareness and generating visibility than raising large sums of money, especially on the local level.

When you think cause marketing is something else, repeat its name a few times to yourself. “Giving” and “charity” are nowhere to be found in the name.

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