What's The Best Cause Marketing Program for My Business?

The last time I talked about cause marketing for businesses I looked at how to pick a cause partner. Once you have partner, the question becomes what should you do for a cause marketing program that will best serve the cause and your business (remembering, of course, that cause marketing is win-win). You can review the different types of cause marketing programs here. Regardless of which one you choose, focus on these four things.

Keep your program simple. Especially if it's your first one. Try to choose something that's a simple extension of your business. If you run a busy ice cream shop, pick an ice cream flavor to support your favorite cause and tell customers every time they buy it you'll make a donation. Simple.

Another example of keeping it simple is Care4Kids, a program Constant Contact, the company I use for my email newsletter (which you can sign up for in the top right!). Current customers like me can nominate a kids charity to receive a free Constant Contact account so they can better communicate their message.

Not only is Constant Contact giving away a service they own, but their customers are the ones nominating the causes to receive the service.

Pathos should drive your program. Pathos is just another word for emotion. Supporters want to connect viscerally with your campaign. This means focusing on some aspect of the cause that will tug at people's heart strings. If it's an animal shelter the emotional tug is all the puppies and kittens that will be saved. If it's an environmental cause focused on green spaces it will be the playgrounds and parks for children. It's no coincidence that Constant Contact's Care4Kids program is for charities that help kids. Children are a powerful, emotional triggers for people.

Make sure your program is easy. Overly complicated programs are a drag for everyone. If you choose a point-of-sale program, for example, limit your ask to one sentence. "Would you like to donate a dollar to help save the trees in Walden Woods?" Also, if your employees are required to ask shoppers to join your email list, if they need anything else (e.g. batteries, etc.) limit these additional asks during the cause marketing promotion period, which is generally two to four weeks. Don't give your employees or your customers an excuse to say no.

Strive for a program that feels spontaneous. Spontaneity may seem like a strange thing to expect of a cause marketing program. But it's not when like me you've seen a lot of programs that our forced and unnatural. That's why it's important to pick a cause that resonates with your employees and customers. A good cause partner is a natural extension of your brand that makes the inclination to market and support it automatic.

Apps I Use for Cause Marketing

Anyone who knows me knows how important my iPhone is to me, especially now that I have the super-fast 4G! Except for typing posts like this one, which I'm writing on my iPad, I do just about everything on my iPhone. This means I do a lot of my cause marketing business with my iPhone and the apps I download. Earlier I gave you five apps I use for cause marketing.

Here's an update on what apps I have on my home page and how I use them.

Evernote. One of my favorite apps, especially now on the iPad. Evernote has been a great place to store everything from articles on Foursquare to samples of pinups that are invaluable for sharing at client meetings. Between Evernote's folders and tags I can organize and sort things any way I want, and email them to anyone at the click of a button.

Dropbox. Wow. That's all I can say about Dropbox. Not long ago Frank Dickinson asked me on Twitter why I liked it so much. My tweet back: "Think of it as a thumb drive u always have with u, can view contents on any device & can share with any1 w/URL." No more bumming thumb drives off your co-workers because you can sync everything right to Dropbox. And now your not limited to viewing those files on your desktop and laptop. I can view and edit them on my iPhone and iPad too. Try doing that with a thumb drive. I also like the "Public" option on Dropbox. When I ran out of space on Slideshare for the last two recordings of my Six Figure Cause Marketing webinar, I dropped them into the public folder in Dropbox and shared the URL with my students.

Dropbox is also a great place to store cause marketing presentations so I can review them right on my iPhone in a taxi or at the airport. And, as with Evernote, the Dropbox's app for the iPad is awesome.

Remember the Milk. I use this for tasks and project management. It too syncs across all my computers and PDA's. I like RTM because I can put as little or as much information in it as I want. It's very flexible. For a quick reminder, like say call a client at 8am in the morning, I sometimes use NotifyMe2.

Constant Contact. This is my app for tracking the open and click through rates of my email newsletter.

WordPress. On the iPhone, the Wordpress app is a great way to check and reply to comments, or to make a quick edit to a post. On the iPad, I use it to write posts like this one. While not as robust as I would like--you can't add pictures or hyperlinks--I usually write my drapf and then go back in on my desktop or laptop to finish the post.

Analytics Pro. You'll never go to Google Analytics again! At $6.99, Analytics Pro isn't cheap, but it's well worth it as I can check my latest stats right from my phone. I can see traffic and referral sources, top content and landing pages, keywords, everything!

Read It Later. I've just started using Read it Later, but I think I'm going to like it. They have this great feature on the iPhone--yes, I do most of my reading too on my iPhone. Yeah, my iPad has a bigger screen but it's also heavier and a little awkward to hold--that allows you to save links without opening them first. I just click on the hyperlink and it goes right to RIL.

I haven't tried the Digest upgrade to RIL, but I suggest you check it out. You can also get a free invite to test it for a week.

So that's my current list of apps. They allow me to pretty much do everything from my iPhone. What am I missing? I would love to hear what apps you can't bear to be without!