New Year-New Habit No. 9: Make Cause Marketing Work

It’s the second work week of 2012. Are you on track to break out of your public relations and social media rut? Here’s one new habit you might want to adopt this year to break out: Challenge your thinking about cause marketing. Think community relations is only for big companies, such as eBay? Think again. Companies of all sizes are building their brands by giving back to nonprofit groups and charities.

The idea behind cause marketing and nonprofit sponsorships is that companies win by promoting their brands and building sales, while nonprofits win by raising funds and building corporate partnerships. Here are 10 tips on cause marketing:

New Year-New Habit No. 9: Make Cause Marketing Work

1. Be careful about what you promote
Your company should align itself only with a cause that reflects the ideals of the company and meets the needs of the charity.

2. Define the benefits
Only partner with charitable causes that will derive real benefits, such as in-kind or monetary donations or employee volunteers.

3. Think size appropriate
Although larger companies can conduct grand-scale cause-related marketing campaigns, such as donating a portion of monthly service fees to a non-profit, even small companies can have big impacts by conducting a grass-roots campaign for a local charity.

4. Target based on demographics
Cause-related marketing should be targeted at groups that share the same values as your company, ensuring demographic similarity between the types of donors to that charity and buyers or users of your product or service.

5. Don’t exploit your good deed
Although cause-related marketing isn’t completely altruistic – you should seek some positive exposure for your involvement – publicity should be conducted with respect to both the corporate and non-profit entities.

6. Think long term
You should strive to create programs that yield long-term value for the non-profit, not short-term hype for you.

7. Look beyond the trends
Look beyond the philanthropic trends to identify charities that truly need your assistance, not merely have current name recognition.

8. Commit resources
Before agreeing to a cause, ensure that your organization can handle its request.

9. Do due diligence
Look at their operations as you would any strategic partner. Talk with the executive director, the development director and members of the board to get an idea of financial situation, resources, management, etc.

10. Maximize the PR value
Explore how you can be included in their marketing vehicles to help promote your company and build a tie in with their organization.

What cause marketing programs have worked for your company? Share your tips — and warning about pitfalls — below.

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