CauseTalk Radio Ep56: Why Cause Marketers Should Take More Risk

Today on CauseTalk Radio, Megan and I talk to Phil Haid, Co-Founder and CEO of Toronto-based Public Inc., about the need for more risk in cause marketing. We discuss the things that are holding cause marketers back: fear of failure, a misconstrued perception that being first is really worth it, and the lack of a culture of support to spark innovation.

Thursday, Phil will be delivering a presentation on risk and cause marketing at the Cause Marketing Forum Conference. If you're not attending this is a great chance to hear Phil speak on the topic.

Phil is one of the best cause marketers I know. Besides picking poorly in the recent NHL series between the Toronto Maple Leafs and my hometown Boston Bruins (guess who won), he's smart, creative, progressive and, of course, an educated risk taker!

7 Tweeps I'm Now Following Thanks to the CMF Conference

Last week's Cause Marketing Forum Conference had many benefits. But one of the best for me is that I have a bunch of new cause marketing tweeps to follow on Twitter. Here are six you're going to love.

Nancy Lublin. Nancy's the CEO of DoSomething.org. Nancy gave a compelling speech on the good, bad and ugly of cause marketing. I like Nancy. I didn't agree with everything she said about cause marketing, but I appreciate her strong opinions on the field and how cause marketing can be done better.

Lindsay Avner. Lindsay is the Founder & Executive Director of Bright Pink, a national breast/ovarian cancer non-profit organization for young women. She has some great corporate partners and plans to join forces with many, many more.

3BL Media. 3BL is a CSR and cause marketing newswire. I couldn't believe I wasn't following 3BL! There are many good reasons to follow them, but one of the best is their daily CSR Minute, which delivers the latest information on our field.

Jeff Weness. Jeff heads corporate development at a Minnesota Children's Hospital. I had the pleasure of listening to Jeff tell his story at the Hospital Corporate Development Summit I co-led. He's had some great accomplishments, including a $17 million corporate gift.

Seema Rani Bhende. Seema is a senior director in the social innovation practice at Waggener Edstrom Worldwide. She has an energetic, well-informed interest in CSR and cause marketing. If her tweets are as good as her conversation, I'm going to learn a lot.

For Momentum. The FM team at the CMF conference was fantastic. Interesting, fun and total cause marketing wonks. Just my kind of people. Here are their names: ^MR^MES^KS^TD^AN^KG^KN^VT. I agree with you: that doesn't make any sense to me either. But these are the initials they put at the end of tweets so followers know who's tweeting. I think I teased them enough that they'll soon have individual handles. Until they do, you can enjoy their tweets from the company handle.

Hyatt Chicago. They didn't attend CMF. They don't do cause marketing. But when it comes to social media this is a for-profit that nonprofits can learn from. Follow and learn. Thanks to Jen Kedinger from the Hyatt for all the "twention" she gave me last week.

8 Reasons You Should Go To Cause Marketing Forum Next Month

The 8th Cause Marketing Forum Conference is coming to the Westin Chicago River North on June 2 & 3. Folks, I barely leave Boston for anything (Hell, why would I! I even wrote a post about getting a conference experience from the seat of your couch). But each year I make a point to dig out my travel bag for the Cause Marketing Forum Conference.

Here are 8 reasons why I'm going (and why you should to).

  1. I have a blast every year! CMF10 will have a great blend of education and networking. I always leave informed, energized and better connected.
  2. Attending reminds me that I belong to a community. Do you know a lot of cause marketers? I know I don't. Here in Boston there are just a few that share the title I have. I've met some people on Twitter. But at CMF10 there will be a whole room of people who do just what I do. Finally, some people to talk shop with!
  3. CMF10 will have some great pre & post event workshops. I'm teaching a new one, the Hospital Corporate Development Summit. But there are other proven workshops you should definitely check out.
  4. Social media will take center stage at CMF10. Cause marketing's  official windmill tilter Chris Noble will moderate Cause Marketing Meets Social Media with guests from Nike, Pepsico & Target. 
  5. CMF's Halo Awards are interesting and inspiring. This year CMF will honor two of my favorites, Macy's and Feeding America. I especially look forward to hearing from Feeding America as they have seen a dramatic rise in cause marketing partnerships. A must-see for cause marketers!
  6. You can still book a flight at a good price! I just did a quick check on Expedia. New York to Chicago is $250 roundtrip and from Los Angeles it's just $375.
  7. Powerful discussions. I love this new idea from Dave to have cause marketing experts lead small, roundtable discussions on cause marketing best practices. You can choose from sessions led by executives from Best Buy, JetBlue Airways, Mattel, Motorola, State Farm, Whirlpool, Feeding America and many others.
  8. You get to meet me! We can chat over a drink and I'll say "Pahk the cah in Hahvahd Yahd" until you and your friends are fully amused. Then you can brag to people back home (even if back home is New England) that you met the guy with the worst Boston accent. This leads me to my last point.

There is only one thing that could make this conference even better: if it was held in Boston! The town where cause marketing was practically invented and where it has certainly flourished. 

But I'll have to take that up with Dave separately. Convincing a New Yorker to do anything in Boston is always challenging. Wish me luck!

**If you're active on Twitter, the hashtag for this year's conference is #cmf10.

A Halo for Winners, A Crown for Cause Marketing Forum

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I just returned from a great outing at Cause Marketing Forum's 7th Annual Conference in Chicago last week. Despite the economy that has impacted us all, David Hessekiel, Founder & President of CMF, pulled together a great show. The conference featured some wonderfully entertaining and informative speakers, and CMF honored some incredible businesses and nonprofits with their signature "Halo Awards" for outstanding cause marketing. My takeaways from the event this year included:

Social media works. Since the last CMF conference in May 2008 I've really worked hard to connect with other fundraisers and cause marketers via social networks (Linked-In, Facebook, but especially through Twitter). Turns out, it hasn't been a waste of time. Not only was it a blast to finally meet many of these people in person at CMF, but our ongoing social media connection allowed us to accelerate conversations when we did meet. We had better conversations that led to more useful introductions at the conference. In short, social media helped me to deepen and expand my business network.

They don't call Carol Cone the "Mother of Cause Marketing" for nothing. Carol is our industry's best thought leader. In addition to being an incredible speaker, she has a wonderful sense of where the industry is headed and what all cause marketers, nonprofit and for-profit, large and small, need to do get out in front of the business. It was worth going to CMF just to hear from her.

The way speakers present and attendees listen needs to change - NOW. Looking around the room at the conference, it blew me away to see speakers droning on and on and hiding behind their PowerPoints. Meanwhile, conference-goers pecked away at their Blackberries, talking quietly into their iPhones, getting up and walking in and out of the conference hall. AND I WAS A PUBLIC OFFENDER #1! Speakers need short (20 minutes max.), human, varied, powerful presentations and attendees need to check their electronics at the door and give the speaker a chance to earn their attention. They need to follow that up with good, thoughtful questions afterwards.

While interesting, engaging and vibrant, cause marketing seems stuck. This year's conference had 300 attendees. Last year's had 500. Despite the obvious hit in attendees because of the economy, I still wondered: where the hell are all the cause marketers? Our annual conference should have over 1,000 attendees. But cause marketing continues to be very niche. How many blogs cover the field, 2 or 3? 

So I left the Cause Marketing Forum Conference thrilled that I had been there, happy that David Hessekiel decided seven years ago to start one, proud that I was involved with something so innovative, creative and, yes, charitable. I also left pleased that I was genuinely impressed by the people I had met. People who were generally smart, personable, kind, and, yes, funny.

But I also left thinking that as an industry we need to do better. We need to grow our ranks with new professionals, and rally existing professionals, both on the non- and for-profit side, to our banner. We need to teach smaller nonprofits the benefits of cause marketing and how to raise money from it. (And, yes, the key word is money because if we can show them that cause marketing can do that--with realistic expectations of how much--their attention will be ours.) Finally, we can't put this all on David's shoulders, or on our "Mother" Carol Cone.

It's up to people like you and me who sat and listened last week and knew what we were hearing was good and useful and interesting. But realized that we each knew three people who would have felt the same way but we never asked them to join us.