Cause-Based Marketing is the process of marketing a specific idea, cause, or goal, rather than a specific business, product or service. It’s cousin, Ethical Marketing, focuses on broader marketing principles that apply to many different aspects of an organization’s marketing efforts. Ethical marketing could be viewed as more ongoing, Toms Shoes always does a “one-for-one” in which they donate a pair of shoes for every pair sold, for example. Companies that build their models around sustainability practices, is another example.

Cause-based marketing could be as simple as a hat or sock drive for the local homeless shelter, the campaign has a beginning and an end and isn’t necessarily the very foundation or pillar around which the company was formed.

I recently read Good is the New Cool / Market Like you Give a Damn.  The authors made some very good points if you are considering a marketing campaign with a “do good” component or if you are creating a business model that includes doing good or having a positive impact on society in addition to creating a positive bottom line.

Like so many books, it starts with a discussion of how the millennial generation values doing good over making money or climbing the corporate ladder — but I would argue that given the option, all generations have causes to embrace and like being a part of something larger than themselves. (Millennials, you get a big gold star for bringing this concept to market and supporting it with your purchasing power.)

A few tips for creating your cause-based campaign:

  1. Keep it clear and simple. What are you trying to accomplish and how can an individual participate? Then follow-up and show actual impact.
  2. The cause needs to be real and you need to have the right motivation. It’s too shallow, and not sustainable, to pick a cause just for the perceived marketing value if it isn’t really a deeply rooted passion.
  3. If you are selling something with a portion of every sale going to a cause; the product still needs to be of high quality. Consumers are savvy and they won’t be compelled to support your cause by buying sub-par products.

Additional notes to ponder:

  • Treat Consumers like Citizens with passions and interests
  • Don’t Advertise, Solve Problems
  • Think Transformational not Transactional

The key really is that the effort needs to be authentic and most definitely conducted with the highest level of integrity — anything else can really harm your brand. How many times have you given to a cause without ever hearing from the organization again?  Do it differently and make sure you communicate with your audience when reaching goals or even extinguishing the problem you were trying to solve.

A few “do good” campaigns have recently caught my eye:

My Cause, My Cleats is a way for NFL athletes to make a statement for the non-profit causes they value. It gives players one more avenue to be an individual and draw attention to something they care about. With no proceeds kept by the NFL, the cleats are auctioned off after being worn. Owning a one-of-a-kind cleat by your favorite athlete and also making an impact – win, win.

Give A Flake – this one really impressed me. Sponsored by Aspen/Snowmass ski areas, this campaign is drawing attention to global warming, but more specifically how it is impacting the annual snow fall. The very creative double page spread in Aspen Magazine included a call to action reply card (old school, right?) so that you can easily take action, which is to tell your senator in Washington how you feel. The “Give A Flake” creative is really eye catching and memorable.

We’d love to hear your success stories when it comes to doing good. At Jet Marketing we make a conscious effort to support those who support us by contributing to the fundraising arms of all of our clients, either through in-kind support or cash donations. I’m wondering how we could do more – but for now, I’m rushing to send this Give A Flake postcard to Washington.

Jackie O’hara, Boss Lady

Jackie loves getting to know a company personally during the process of crafting or updating its brand. Always looking for unique ideas, she finds the most simple and honest ideas are often the most effective.