Why Your Business Needs a Cause: 6 Ways to Make it Great
Cause as a Business Strategy
General Electric (GE) has long been involved in the cause of social responsibility. Linda Boff, Executive Director of Global Brand Marketing for GE, says that the number one reason that GE is active in those kinds of efforts is because it’s good for business.
“This is about doing good, but it’s also about doing well,” says Boff. GE is a great example of a company that can do good work and be profitable at the same time.
6 Keys to a Successful Cause Initiative
Doing good takes a lot of time, resources and effort. In other words, it’s not easy. Here’s six keys to success we've learned over the years that will help you with your cause initiative.
Make it Personal
The cause has to be personal to someone in the business. It must be something the team can rally around and grow into a real passion. For us, the passion came from our son Joshua. When Joshua was two years old, we were told by one of the most renown doctors in her field that Joshua would never be able to talk or function like other kids. When we saw how Joshua went from zero words to a full vocabulary through intensive speech and play therapy, we knew this would be our cause.
Be sure the cause is personal and your company is (or can be) passionate about it.
So many cause events are one-timers. Just like any marketing program, the cause needs to be consistent. Is it monthly, quarterly, annually? Whatever you do, it should be repeatable. The real results usually don’t happen after the first campaign…but after the third, fifth, tenth…
You must commit to the cause on an ongoing basis.
The event cannot be done in a vacuum. The best events (like charity golf outings, charity runs, dinner fundraisers) get people together…talking and sharing. The perfect cause events are a mix of fun, networking, education and passion.
The cause should get people together, face-to-face (at some point, in some way).
Show Tangible Results
Supporters need to see that the program is making a difference. Yes, showing a money count is impressive, but it lacks feeling and impact. Each year at the event, Joshua takes the stage to deliver a speech on how speech therapy changed his life. It’s all the proof any of our supporters need.
Be prepared to show proof that your efforts are making an impact on others.
I’ve been involved with many brands that have tried cause marketing initiatives, only to fail. The reason? No accountability. This is part of your business strategy and, as such, needs to be assigned people and resources or it simply won’t be successful.
Assign someone in your organization to lead the initiative and make sure they know what goals equal success.
According to the 2013 Edelman Trust Barometer, individuals trust organizations at about a 50% scenario. That means there is a 50/50 chance that people will think that your cause initiative is the real deal. How do you get that to 100%? Partner with a non-profit institution that adds credibility to your initiative (we partnered with the Easter Seals Northern Ohio). In addition to the added credibility, the non-profit can give you the resources and knowledge to make sure your program starts and continues in the right direction.
Reach out to a non-profit that aligns with your goals.
What do you think? Has a cause marketing effort helped your business or do you believe that businesses shouldn't mix charity work with business efforts?