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Considering Cause Marketing

Most causes and companies should consider cause marketing and focus on the positive things it can result in but cause marketing won’t work for everyone. Remember these key things when considering cause marketing.

  • Be happy if you raise some money. Cause marketing can accomplish a lot of great things, but money is something you can see, count, and use. While cause marketing can enhance brand, build awareness, promote events, and boost employee and customer loyalty, measuring these outcomes is difficult and beyond the expertise of most smaller companies and causes.

  • Experience and skill count. Don't pursue a cause marketing program unless you have marketing and sales skills and a good working knowledge of how businesses or causes operate. If you lack these things, hire someone to help you create your program, pitch it to prospects, and execute it after the deal is done.

  • Educate yourself. You can find plenty of resources to learn about cause marketing. One of the best is the Cause Marketing Forum website, which contains examples and case studies. Cause Marketing Forum also has an annual conference where you can meet and learn from experienced cause marketers.

  • Start with cause marketing. Grow it into a program. Doing cause marketing and having a cause marketing program are two different things. A homeless shelter down the street from a local hospital had an annual cause marketing promotion with a restaurant chain that raised thousands of dollars.

    The restaurant did cause marketing — once a year — but didn't commit to a cause marketing program to which it would have to devote more time, staff, and money. Many causes have existing corporate relationships that could easily be turned into cause marketing promotions. Before organizations commit to a full-fledged program, they need to reflect on their will and skills. Most should think twice before making a major commitment.

  • Understand the ethical and legal side of cause marketing. Cause marketing is an evolving field that is moving toward more transparent, tangible programs that assure donors that monies raised are going to causes and making a difference for causes. Cause marketing is also getting more attention from lawmakers. Laws impacting cause marketing vary from state to state. Be sure to consult the laws in your state before proceeding.

  • Don't be arrogant. It is natural to think you work for wonderfully unique organizations with huge potential. Yours may really do so, but your bright future still may not include cause marketing. Stop believing your own public relations. Wasting money and resources on cause marketing based on a heady, misguided belief that you could launch the next Starbucks/Product (RED) is neither smart nor responsible.

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