Posts Tagged ‘Cause’

The 4 Challenges of Cause Marketing

Posted on: May 21st, 2012 by Geoff Livingston 22 Comments

Downtown Chicago

Want to be my guest at the Cause Marketing Forum this May 30-31 in Chicago? The best comment wins a free registration worth $1,045.00 for a business or $795 for a nonprofit, compliments of Razoo (also cross-posted on Inspiring Generosity). A decision will be made tomorrow morning based on comments on both blogs.

Customers want brands to invest in marketing, that much is clear. There’s enough data out there that shows that people love brands that invest in their community’s general well being (skip ahead if you want to see the stats). Yet brands struggle weaving cause marketing and corporate social responsibility programs into the fabric of their marketing communications.

Some of the cause marketing problems facing corporate brands include:

Cause Competitiveness: Keep Your Eye On The Prize

Posted on: March 29th, 2011 by Geoff Livingston 24 Comments

Who's Getting Off First?

by Estrella Rosenberg & Geoff Livingston

If the last two marathon weeks of cause-related conferences are any indication, competition isn’t just something the for profit sector is thinking about – the cause community is too. How do we compete for market share? How do we compete for visibility? How do we compete for more money? Much has been said about competitiveness in the for profit sector, but what is the right role of competition in causes? Is there a right role?

Some would have full on competition, while others would have singular causes or coalitions within each sector. Are either of these right? They both are in a way. Competitive spirit definitely has its place: Finding the fastest, most efficient, most impactful way to resolve the problem the cause addresses.

Non-profits are not in business to make money. They are a business to be sure, but unlike a for-profit, which seeks to dominate markets and yield profits, a cause or social enterprise seeks to provide a solution. When a for-profit business is successful, it keeps its doors open for years and expands and keeps looking for more market share. When a non-profit is successful it should close its doors because its business – or mission – has been completed.

Are you competing just to raise the most money? Competing in the sense that a cause seeks to beat out its competition helps no one. It actually hurts the cause space by creating distractions and wasted resources.

Consider Komen for the Cure’s use of $1 million spent to legally enforce its rights to term “for the Cure.” How does that help anyone resolve health or larger issues? Worse, last year during The Cause Marketing Forum, Komen for the Cure proclaimed that it was their mission to reclaim the pink ribbon from other non-profits in the breast cancer space – organizations that they themselves support with grants! Imagine if that money and energy went towards finding the most innovative way to discover the most impactful solutions in breast cancer?

Competing to be the first to the finish line with the same approach as ten other organizations in your cause space isn’t the right kind of competition either. Wealthy founders and well meaning activists who think they can do it better without any unique theory of change are creating distractions too and just making more choices for donors, often paralyzing them. Yet another voice with nothing new to add creates a longer path to the answer.

The ability to see the problem and a unique answer to it (or a part of it) is at the heart of social entrepreneurship. Innovation means finding better faster ways to provide answers. In essence, this is the Ashoka model of social entrepreneurship where a changemaker seizes on a unique approach to a problem and deploys ambitious actions for wide-scale change.

For these social entrepreneurs, and for forward thinking non-profits, competition means cooperating with other organizations within the same space when they have to because they have their eye on the prize: an answer to whatever problem they’re trying to solve. That doesn’t necessarily mean sharing resources, but it does acknowledge that everyone is trying to reach the same end goal. Forming coalitions and cause verticals can have great impact if each organization is working on their own piece of the puzzle.

Ultimately, causes should want to end their business by resolving their problem. They shouldn’t want to be the organization who uses social media the most cleverly. They shouldn’t want to be the organization that raised the most money at their annual event. They should want to shutter their doors. Period.

What kind of cause are you? Are you competing to make change or just competing?

Return Cause Marketing to the Heart of Your Strategy

Posted on: May 18th, 2010 by Geoff Livingston 8 Comments
haagen dazs.jpg

So many organizations feel like they need bring causes into their marketing, and similarly, need to add social media to the mix. It’s a bit of a checklist game, and thus the quick drive to add a contest with online voting or simply create a cause purchasing campaign with a popular charity like Komen or a safe one like autism.

What’s often missing is an understanding of how causes can positively impact a corporate strategy and culture. Whether it’s furthering technology issues, addressing some of the ills a product creates, or simply rewarding your employees or customers with an investment in a cause that they care about, a smart cause marketing effort can infuse a corporate brand with some well needed positive karma.

In that sense companies need to look at cause marketing — particularly if it involves engaging customers online — as a tool. It’s one that allows the company to demonstrate acts of corporate social responsibility, and enable its stakeholders to feel a part of the larger enterprise. Like any tool cause marketing needs to reflect corporate strategy, and thus help execute it.

So strategy helps justify cause marketing online, but also maximizes opportunities for success. At the same time, it needs those things that make any communication to a stakeholder work — authenticity, transparency into why the organization is doing it, and frankly, well thought out programs that don’t contradict the intent.

Many marketing and nonprofit people critiqued a recent Komen/KFC campaign from both sides of the fence (check out Bill Sledzik’s excellent discussion). The reality was the intent may have been outstanding on both parts: Fight the impact of fried chicken as applied to obesity via one of the most storied brands out there, combating a disease that weight gain provides a contributing factor, and do it with the largest donation ever to that brand ($8 million). But because the money was funded through fried chicken sales as opposed to grilled or other products, it seemed insincere.

Actions need to follow strategic intentions. When the tactical execution does, the results can be quite amazing.

Consider the fantastic success Haagen Dazs has experienced (case study by J.D. Lasica). Bees, in particular honey bees, are disappearing from our world. There are a few reasons scientists are debating, but the impact on our food supply cannot be underestimated.

Haagen-Dazs, which uses honey in its products, decided to combat the issue: “Honey bees are responsible for pollinating one-third of all the foods we eat, including many of the ingredients that define our all-natural ice creams, sorbets, frozen yogurt and bars.” This is a natural tie to the corporate mission, while creating an obvious corporate social responsibility tie. Haagen-Dazs launched a microsite and a Twitcause campaign through the #HelpHoneyBees hashtag, raising $7,000 in two days last November (”Bee Buzz generated: 643,748 tweets”).

Not bad from a branding standpoint, and you never really saw any criticism of Haagen-Dazs for this. It was an obvious win–win-win, for the bees, for customers and for the company. This was an optimal cause marketing program for the 21st century.