Cause Marketing: Coming Soon to a Neighborhood Near You!

This is a guest post by ThrdPlace interviewing Dawn Wilcox at Allison+Partners. ThrdPlace sat down with her to explore the emerging need for brands to make local impact in the communities they serve. I love the talk about local cause marketing!

Dawn Wilcox is the Managing Director of Social Impact at Allison+Partners with nearly two decades of experience helping brands make our world a better place.  

ThrdPlace is a social platform for local action that brings consumers together with for-profits and non-profits to change the way community development projects get done. 

3P : How has the field of Cause Marketing evolved and where does it stand today?

Dawn: Cause Marketing has evolved over the past 30 years in that partnerships with nonprofits have almost become the “price of admission” when it comes to doing business. Companies are realizing we have to figure out some way to be connected because it’s important to our employees, it’s important to our consumers, and, hopefully, there are a lot of companies out there that believe it’s actually a part of their mission as a business to leave the world a better place and have a positive impact.

I think lots of consumers are expecting it from companies, especially younger generations. They’re growing up thinking that this is the way it’s always been done and there is an expectation that corporations will somehow get engaged. If the corporation cares and has a local presence then it is going to be more important to make that cause marketing super local. It can’t just be writing that one check to a big global or national charity. How does that connect me to you?  I need to be connected.

3P: Why do brands want to be local?

Dawn: I think the local focus has come out of some of the behavior change marketing that used to be done around public health. If you are tackling a big issue or are trying to educate a lot of people you have to approach with a one-to-one focus. If you can just affect one person’s behavior it will have a ripple effect which is more powerful than pursuing a broad-based approach to your outreach activities. I think some of that has infiltrated into consumer brands’ approach to local. Brands and companies are seeing the value of going really local because they know they can affect behavior change with their consumers.

3P: Why don’t I see brands making an Impact in my neighborhood?

Dawn: I think they honestly haven’t figured out how to do it or they think it is going to cost a lot of money.  But why not?  They target their advertising, so why not target the PR around cause efforts? Would it keep me shopping at my local grocery store more often if I knew they were making a local impact? Yes. I think people are looking for that connection.

3P: Can you think of an example of a company making a local impact in your community?  

Dawn:Mothers Haven is a great example.  It is a store and resource center for new moms that also has a site for collecting donations for local homeless shelters to find supplies for new moms that are homeless.  So you can buy diapers and drop them off or donate new or used baby items. They are a store where you can buy things, but they also serve as a resource center to funnel much needed supplies and provide classes and support groups to moms in the community.

3P: And you feel that because you know the local story of where those supplies are going and who is being helped, that makes a difference?

Dawn: Absolutely, I tell every new mom that moves into the Valley to go there. To tap into their resources, their classes buy supplies...I’m super attached to them because of what they’ve become to the community.