The strategic positioning of linking a company and a brand to a relevant social cause or issue for a mutual benefit has proven to be successful. Cause-Related Marketing is quite different from "corporate giving," as the latter generally involves a specific donation that is tax-deductible. CRM is usually not associated with a monetary one-time gift.
Why should you use CRM? Cause-Related Marketing offers a potential boost in profits and also adds great credibility to your branding. It also strengthens your brand loyalty. According to a Cone/Roper Benchmark Survey conducted in 2006, 78% of respondents said they are more likely to buy a product that's associated with a cause they care about, and 54% said they would pay more for it. One-third of respondents said that after price and quality, a company's responsible business practices are the most important factor in deciding whether to buy its product.
Cause-Related Marketing could be a successful tool for both large corporations and smaller businesses. One of the most recently publicized and successful campaigns based on Cause Marketing was the Product RED charity effort from the Global Fund, which supports funding to combat the AIDS crisis in Africa. The Global Fund brought on board some heavy hitters for Product RED: GAP, Motorola, American Express, and Apple all participated in marketing and selling RED products which in turn raised $11.3 million and generated a media frenzy around the campaign.
On another front, smaller businesses can also benefit from teaming up with a non-profit organization. This past April, Earthwise Reusable Bag Company partnered with EarthShare, a nationwide network of America's leading non-profit environmental and conservation organizations, and created National Reusable Bag Day - introduced over Earth Day weekend. The collaboration created awareness about the impact of disposable plastic bags on the environment and also encouraged the use of reusable bags nationwide. It was a successful campaign which garnered benefits to both partners involved - raising money and furthering the cause for EarthShare, while at the same time broadening retailer participation and heightening brand recognition among the general public for Earthwise.
When a business or organization decides to go the cause marketing route, it's extremely important to choose an issue/cause that is relevant and closely related to your products or services. It's crucial to your success that your customers understand why you are involved in the issue. Because CRM can have a big impact on loyalty, it can be extremely targeted and customized for your customers. Make sure that it caters to your target market and that it has a clear connection.
CRM has mutual benefits for each participating party. It can give a non-profit organization the increased ability to promote its cause via greater financial resources. At the same time, corporations and businesses can benefit by gaining an edge over their competition, differentiating themselves while building loyalty with their customers. CRM also offers a business great public relations through the media, which in turn builds credibility.
Whether you choose to donate products or services for a non-profit event, promote a message via the media, endorse a product, or agree to donate a portioned amount of your sales, Cause-Related Marketing has a proven track record of building customer loyalty, improving public image, and increasing profits. Just remember, be very selective and clear to your customers about why you are associated with a cause or issue. In the end, the mutual benefits for both parties could pay off in a big way.