Top 10 Reasons To Start/Keep Doing Cause Marketing

Sorry I've been out of touch lately.  Post Halloween Town break, I guess.  But I have to admit that I have been posting elsewhere, just at 140 characters at a time.  Yep, I'm using Twitter now and loving it!  What a great way to connect with people!  I like that when I see something on the street or come across something on the web I can just send out a quick "tweet" to the world.  It's very cool.  I hope you'll join me on Twitter soon. (BTW, I manage my "tweets" with Twhirl, a third party app.  It makes Twitter a lot easier to use.  For the latest tips on using Twitter, check out Darren Rowse's new blog, Twitip.) But until I become a Twizombie I'll keep blogging.  And one of the best things about blogging is all the great people that I meet because they just happen to come across my blog.  The gang at Causemedia in Newton, MA is just the latest example.  Incredibly, these people are literally down the street from my house.  During the past year I've met more people online from eastern Massachusetts than I've met from around the world.  So much for the Internet encouraging people to hole themselves up in their houses.

A double benefit of meeting Donna, Lisa and Don from Causemedia is they are cause marketers just like me (I was starting to feel like Tom Hanks in Castaway, but my buddy's name was "Spaulding" and wasn't as personable.).  They pointed me to a great article on their web site: Top 10 Arguments for Initiating or Continuing Cause-Related Marketing Efforts in a Down Economy.  Okay, it's not the snappiest title I've seen, but the content is great.  Here are six of their top ten with my comments.  Be sure to check out all ten here.

Brands should buck conventional wisdom and differentiate themselves in a meaningful and relevant way.  Back when I was working in public television I got a call back from a potential underwriter who proceeded to list all the different ways he was already marketing his service.   "That's great," I said.  "You're getting lots of visibility, but how are you building favorability with consumers?"  Silence.  But that's what cause marketing does.  It gives your potential customers a better reason to do business with you than just product or price.

Consumer mistrust of public and private sector leaders is at an all time high, and for good reasons.  Study after study shows that consumers want to see more corporate responsibility.  The headlines of the past couple of months have surely only enhanced this.  And starting a cause marketing program now will probably be perceived a lot better than suspending your activities.  Remember, the PR outcomes of cause marketing can work both ways.

Marketing is about making connections.  And cause marketing helps you makes those connections in a way that's unique from other types of marketing.  Is it better or more special than other forms of marketing?  Probably not.  They have their place too.  But it is different and effective and should absolutely be part of every company's marketing mix.

Do more with less.  Cause-related marketing does not have to cost a dime.  Amen!  I've said this many times on this blog that the real money in cause marketing is not in the corporate checkbook but in programs that ask many, many shoppers for a small donation.  If you run a business that has lots of foot traffic or lots of retail locations, preferably both, you have the assets needed for an effective, win-win cause marketing program at no direct cost to you.  The rewards of cause marketing combined with its zero cost will leave your media rep speechless.

Cause-related marketing is a proven way of driving sales.  Dude, it works.  The Earth isn't flat.  We landed on the moon.  Oswald acted alone.  There are no WMD's in Iraq.  Accept the 20 years of evidence and get with the program.

The needs of the community will be increasing.  And cause marketing is perhaps the best and most lucrative way for businesses to support nonprofits.  Take your lead from U2's Bono.  When he was pitching Product RED to companies he turned down many six-figure corporate checks in favor of more risky cause marketing pacts.  Nearly $100 million later it's clear he made the right choice.  You should too.