Marketing is tough. Customers can tell when an advertisement is disingenuous and companies struggle to find ways to differentiate themselves from their competitors. And then once companies find a voice or a message they wish to share, they are tasked with choosing from a variety of mediums to advertise on, spanning radio and the Internet.

Cause marketing in particular has proven to be both popular and, when done right, effective. In the simplest of terms, cause marketing is when a business markets a for-profit product or service that benefits a nonprofit charity or social cause in some type of way. Established businesses are eager to jump aboard this new form of marketing that combines both social impact with making money, resulting in memorable campaigns from brands like Toms and Patagonia. Unlike good old marketing campaigns, cause marketing appeals to a consumer's emotional side, connecting with your customer on a level that is much stronger than simply servicing a need.

If you're thinking of giving your marketing campaign a much need facelift, consider incorporating cause marketing into your creative strategy. Here are three reasons why it's much easier, and more effective, to create a campaign that lends itself to a cause.

1. Connect with Consumers on a Deep, Emotional Level

When Ido Leffler was growing up, his mom was a teacher and had to pay out of pocket to fund some of her classroom supplies. Ido learned that this was a common occurrence for many teachers. Inspired by his mom's dedication to her students and recognizing that lack of funding within schools is a serious problem, Leffler created his own business that would give back to classrooms in need. Yoobi was founded because many children in the U.S. don't have access to basic school supplies and 99.5% of teachers often must pay for these supplies out of their own pocket. Parents of elementary school children are no doubt familiar with the shortage of school supplies, so an organization like Yoobi gives them an opportunity to provide a classroom pack to a child in need. It also is in alignment with Yoobi's core business values: to create colorful, vibrant tools that spark learning and creativity within children. "Often companies forget that consumers are people and that people respond best when they are told a story that is both honest, authentic and relatable," explains Ido Leffler, Founder of Yoobi. "I find that when I tell our story about our team and mission, partners and consumers see the true emotional side of why we are doing this, and they instantly put up their hands to join us in trying to solve this enormous fundamental issue." Yoobi gives customers a story to talk about, and because they support a cause true to the brand's core they are more likely to develop a sense of trust with their target market. Cause marketing, like the Yoobi campaign, also takes advantage of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, which explains our innate need to nurture others.

2. Inspiration is Endless

Unlike other marketing campaigns, there already exists plenty of inspiration to fuel cause marketing. If your brand is campaigning against gun violence, rather than create stories to fit that narrative there already exist stories of gun violence that you can draw inspiration from. And part of what makes cause marketing so effective is when the stories are unique and authentic. Stories drawn from real-life experiences are the most powerful because people can relate to realistic experiences. These narratives don't have to be complex to drive home a point; the content should be simple with values that anyone can relate to. Just Googling different types of causes reveals thousands, sometimes millions, of stories that any marketer can use to influence their campaign. But it's important to make sure your charitable ventures align with your core business. When your cause and your business aren't aligned, you essentially send mixed messages to your customers. It would be like BP Oil taking on cause marketing to say they support organizations researching natural sources of energy. The two are complete opposites and make consumers doubt the true intentions of the company.

3. Purpose Drives Business Success

Customers want more from businesses than just products and services. 73% of customers say that between two brands offering similar products, they'll switch to the brand that supports a good cause. And that number continues to grow every year, suggesting consumers are looking for businesses that focus on serving a higher purpose. Given these stats, it makes sense why brands are switching to a cause-focused marketing campaign, but it's also much easier to advertise when you have purpose at your core. "According to the American Heart Association's 2016 Heart Disease Statistics Update, one of every three U.S. deaths is caused by cardiovascular disease," says Robert Lee, VP of Sales and Marketing at Berkeley Life. "So our marketing strategy for the unique heart health supplement that we have developed focuses on these staggering statistics with a mission to improve lives."

A brand with purpose doesn't need to search for a way to resonate with customers - your customers will either get your purpose or they won't. With purpose in hand, businesses can create authentic messaging that doesn't feel forced or fake. It's also the first step in developing an emotional and psychological relationship with your customers. "Our approach aims to build the education portfolio within the industry and to help our target customers understand the importance of monitoring and maintaining healthy blood pressure levels," says Lee when asked how Berkeley Life connects with its target consumers. "If we can help reduce the current statistics by even 1%, we will be improving thousands of people's lives."

Advertising is undoubtedly tricky. For a brand, they want to find some way of connecting with their customers but they need to wary of coming off as fake or manipulative. Many businesses have turned to cause marketing to bolster their awareness, but even cause marketing can pose some difficulties. It starts with being authentic and staying true to your core. When the social cause and your brand purpose are in alignment, it makes your cause marketing efforts and effectiveness that much more rewarding.

Published on: Nov 29, 2016
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