Mark Keeton, Vice President
Yoplait supports breast cancer awareness.
Dove is on a mission to help women look and feel beautiful.
The ALS Association is supported by the Ice Bucket Challenge.
What do all three of these have in common? They are outstanding examples of cause marketing done right.
Cause marketing is focused on producing business results while also accomplishing social good. Often, as in the case of Yoplait and the Susan B. Komen Foundation, it is a partnership between a company and a not-for-profit organization.
Cause marketing and purpose-driven work are complementary. It’s possible to have one without the other but a focus on both can elevate a company’s social responsibility profile. As increasing numbers of consumers consider what goods and services they are purchasing, companies also are making decisions about who they will work with based on social responsibility practices.
According to a 2018 Shelton Group Report, “Brands & Stands: Social Purpose is the New Black,” 86 percent of consumers believe that companies should take a stand for social issues. Sixty-four percent of those who said it’s ‘extremely important’ for a company to take a stand on a social issue said they were ‘very likely’ to purchase a product based on that commitment.
Cause marketing is about more than consumer decisions. Research shows that employees and prospective employees are now evaluating how employers give back and are making decisions about where they will work as a result. And, a company’s purpose and cause can be strong drivers for improving employee satisfaction.
According to Harvard Business Review’s, “The Business Case for Purpose,” 89 percent of executives surveyed said, “a strong sense of collective purpose drives employee satisfaction; 84 percent said it can affect an organization’s ability to transform and 80 percent said it helps increase customer loyalty.” Unfortunately, the same Harvard Business Review piece says that only a minority of respondents said their company runs in a purpose-driven way.
Just like their counterpart purpose-driven culture, cause marketing and sustainability make good business sense. Unilever’s 2017 Consumer Study noted that an estimated “$1.2 trillion opportunity exists for brands that make their sustainable credentials clear.” The study also said that one in three consumers are buying from brands they believe are doing social or environmental good.
Getting started promoting social good
What’s the secret to ensuring your business is promoting social good? These tips will get you started:
- Project authenticity. Make sure everyone in your organization is walking the walk. It may not be possible to find a specific project that everyone can agree on but it’s important that everyone agree on the need for focusing on social responsibility. This can be difficult to build in organizations that have been around for a while so it’s important to listen to key stakeholders and integrate their feedback in plans before moving forward.
- Formalize the relationship. Having an established partner as a recipient of your organization’s good works will go a long way toward building legitimacy with customers and employees.
- Help employees connect to the cause. Find ways to bring along naysayers by encouraging participation in activities. Not everyone has to participate in the same way or at the same level.
- Broadcast your work internally and externally. Make sure your employees and customers know how you are making a difference. Not only will the work potentially sway customers, it also may help build loyalty among employees.
- Measure, measure, measure. You wouldn’t start any other new project or program without metrics, would you? Make sure you establish goals and benchmarks to ensure that work is successful and achieving the results you’d like. Having this data also will help you fine tune your efforts moving forward.
- Plan for sustainability. It’s easy to get excited about new programs. It’s less easy to remain excited after you’ve been doing the work for five or 10 years. This is another reason to benchmark and set goals. So that your team always is trying to accomplish more.
No matter where you land on the cause marketing/purpose-driven work continuum, it’s important to remember that an increasing number of business decisions are being made on the value you provide to the common good. Even if cause marketing or purpose-driven work are not high priorities for your company, seek out opportunities to incorporate them into your daily work.