How Businesses Can Measure ROI on Cause Marketing

Whenever I work with a business on a cause marketing program, especially point-of-sale--my bread-and-butter program--they usually ask that after helping a great cause how do they really measure what was gained from the partnership. It's a good question, to which there is generally no clear answer, especially for a smaller businesses that can't invest in focus groups or customer research to determine if cause marketing did what it's suppose to do: enhance favorability with consumers and employees and drive sales.

As I work almost solely with small and medium-sized businesses--and not the Walmart's, Starbucks or Chili's of the world--this is how we measure the ROI on a cause marketing program.

Did the campaign achieve its goal? Before the start of each point-of-sale program we work with the retailer to set a goal for each store involved in the program. A successful program that meets or exceeds goal and is greeted with enthusiasm--and few complaints from shoppers--deserves to be called a success.

Coupon redemptions. Most of the pinups and point-of-sale programs we create include one or more coupons. They add value for the shopper and give the business a tangible way to track consumer interest in the program. Most of the coupons on our pinups are good for a return visit--those on our Halloween Town pinup, for instance, weren't good until after Halloween--so they're traffic drivers.

The cross promotion that multiple coupons from several businesses creates can translate into new customers for some stores. A pinup partner of ours was excited to discover that a large number of coupon redemptions weren't from their own customers, but from those of another partner in the same program (each partner has a unique code on their pinup so they can track coupons from other partners).

Take it out of the store. Because our programs are so multifaceted, we offer a lot more than pinups. Our latest program with Phantom Gourmet gives partners added exposure on radio and television, which is added ROI. Halloween Town gave pinup partners a two-day brand land experience that drew 15,000 guests. No cause marketing program should be one dimensional. Not only do integrated campaigns make for better cause marketing but they also deliver better returns. Whenever I meet with sponsors for a post-campaign wrap-up I always have lots to share with them on how valuable the program was to them.

Measure employee engagement. Getting hard numbers on customer engagement on cause marketing is difficult and expensive, but finding out the impact of cause marketing on employees is easier because the audience is smaller and you have direct access to them. Talk to your managers and rank and file employees about the program. Customers aren't the only ones that benefit from cause marketing. It can also boost employee satisfaction and loyalty, which has its own bottom-line benefit.

Did you get your money's worth? I always throw this question out to a partner because as many of you who follow my blog already know, we don't charge anything for our cause marketing programs (nor should you). I usually make this my final point to a partner as I've already established the many rewards of the program. And then I add, "Oh yeah, and it was free." Great ROI, eh?

Cause marketing delivers karma points and ROI for businesses. Even without fancy and expensive measurement tools you can gauge employee and customer interest and reach potential customers through cross-promotions and events. And if you're a retailer you can get this all for free.

Who wouldn't call cause marketing a good investment?