Cause Marketing Success Factors: Messaging - dummies

Cause Marketing Success Factors: Messaging

By Joe Waters, Joanna MacDonald

A successful cause marketing message doesn’t always have to reflect the full mission of your organization. For example, a hospital that serves a diverse population of lower-income residents in the Boston area obviously serves every age, gender, and minority group in the city. But when it comes to cause marketing, they focus (depending on the program) on one of three emotional hot-buttons: sick children, poor women, and anyone with cancer.

These three focus areas because the hospital deals with these three issues every day, and consumers can easily and powerfully relate to them.

Going with your best horse isn’t something new or crazy. As marketing genius Al Ries, coauthor of the classic 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, explained in an Ad Age article, Apple built its early empire by promoting the iPod and iTunes. The success of those two products trickled down to their entire product line:

“Focusing your marketing message on a single word or concept has been our mantra for years. But taking this idea one step further can also produce dramatic results. To cut through the clutter in today’s overcommunicated society, place your marketing dollars on your best horse. Then let that product or service serve as a halo effect for the rest of the line.”

— Al Ries

A cause that leads with its strongest hand is The Jimmy Fund, which raises money for the world-renowned Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. While the goal of The Jimmy Fund is to raise money to fight cancer in children and adults, their Famous Last Words are focused on the children they are aiding in their fight against cancer. Indeed, the enduring image of The Jimmy Fund is courageous bald-headed children stricken by cancer.

Some could argue that The Jimmy Fund mission is not just about children, and its cause marketing should include the faces of the adults they help. But by focusing on children — the halo, the best horse — everyone is served, including adults.

Your message is about marketing and mission. And while both should be included, you should be clear on what comes first. Pick that piece of your mission that will resonate most with consumers and make that the centerpiece of your marketing