How to Choose Your Cause Marketing Program

Part of the Cause Marketing For Dummies Cheat Sheet

The tactics of cause marketing are one of the key things that distinguish it from other types of partnerships, such as sponsorship. Cause marketing starts with a company and a cause, and both partners benefit. The essence of a cause marketing program is win-win. If you don’t have a win-win program, you don’t have cause marketing.

Cause marketing programs comes in six common types:

  • Point-of-sale program: When a consumer is solicited at the register for a donation either by a cashier (called active cause marketing) or by signage that is prominently displayed to encourage the shopper to make a gift (passive cause marketing), it’s called point-of-sale. Pinups, coin canisters, and electronic donations via a register credit card machine are all forms of point-of-sale programs.

  • Purchase or action-triggered donation program: When a consumer buys a product or service and a donation is made to a cause, it’s a purchase-triggered donation. Alternatively, instead of a purchase, a donation is made when the consumer performs some type of action. For example, over the holidays, the department store chain Macy’s traditionally donates a dollar to the Make-a-Wish Foundation for every letter to Santa dropped into its special store letterboxes.

  • Licensing program: In a licensing program, a company pays a fee to use a nonprofit’s brand on its product. Licensing may include a certification process by the nonprofit before the company is allowed to use the logo. Because a cause needs major brand appeal to execute a licensing program, it’s generally practiced by larger causes with the marketing muscle and legal staff to roll out a professional program. Licensing is not a tactic for your average or local cause.

  • Message promotion program: In this type of program, a business puts its resources to work to promote a cause-focused message. For example, a company may have production and advertising resources to create and air a 30-second commercial, newspaper ad, or radio schedule for a cause partner.

  • Employee engagement program: In this program, a company leverages its workforce for social good. Companies don’t just want to give money and product to causes; they want to engage their employees in meaningful work that helps the cause and promotes customer loyalty.

  • Digital programs: The web, social media, and especially location-based services will dramatically impact cause marketing and change the way the other types of cause marketing program are executed. To leave out a digital program is to leave out the future of cause marketing and how cause and companies will partner in the years to come.

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Cause Marketing For Dummies Cheat Sheet

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