What is social cause marketing?

Discussions of Marketing Strategies and Working With Nonprofits

Definition: Social cause marketing is the planning and implementation of sound marketing concepts and tools in commercial marketing programs in existing companies that are designed to influence individuals, modify behaviors that improve their well being, and bring about change in society.

Learn how you can incorporate social cause marketing into your business plan

Social Entrepreneurs address major issues like Health, Safety and Injury Prevention, Environmental Concerns and Protection, Community Development and Involvement, and Disaster Relief and Prevention. Consumers say that a company’s commitment to social issues is important when they decide which companies they want to see doing business in their community, where they work, which products and services to recommend to other people, and in which stocks/mutual fund to invest.

In other words, social cause activities like volunteering, sponsoring, supporting, and donating is good business. These activities create healthier communities. They increase employee morale. They empower employees to make a difference in the world. Finally, these activities can enhance the company’s profile within the community and therefore increase bottom line profitability.

Each year companies around the world spend billions on what’s called “external relations” to help manage this consumer decision-making. The companies frequently do so without enforcing the same kind of tough management standards that they usually apply to other aspects of their businesses.

Social cause marketing is an increasingly popular corporate practice that seeks to tie a company or brand to a charitable effort. Social cause marketing is the planning and implementation of sound marketing concepts and tools in commercial marketing programs that are designed to influence individuals, modify behaviors that improve their well being, and bring about change in society. Social cause marketing is one business management practice that social entrepreneurs are integrating into their operations, and existing businesses are integrating into their operations too.

Tactical Alternatives

Social Entrepreneurs address major issues like Health, Safety and Injury Prevention, Environmental Concerns and Protection, Community Development and Involvement, and Disaster Relief and Prevention. Social cause marketing is all about existing businesses partnering with social entrepreneurs addressing at least one of these issues. Any for-profit company, of any size, can create a social cause program incorporating at least one of the tactical alternatives profiled below.

Many social causes and nonprofits have various sponsorship opportunities for companies who want to provide their name and a financial donation to a specific program or event. Sponsoring a programs is an excellent way for a company to enhance its image. Event sponsorships include regional and national conventions and local galas and dinners.

There are many corporations that have benefited from co-branding with nonprofits. Co-branding is a great way to market and align your brand along with that of a popular social cause to help show support for that organization, its missions and those community members served by the nonprofit. Co-branded promotions let your customers know that you are a good corporate citizen while increasing the reach and awareness of the nonprofit’s programs and services.

Customers look for brands and their affiliations with social causes. In fact, 84 percent say that they are likely to switch brands to one associated with a good cause. One way to show that association is to license a nonprofit’s brand and logo for appropriate products and/or services.

New Product Promotion
For a company to enhance its own marketing objectives and help a nonprofit deliver its programs, services, and vital communication messages. This tactic can be very useful in the introduction and launch of a new product or service. The affiliation of a well known nonprofit and/or an important social cause can help differentiate the product.

Philanthropic Investments
Charitable nonprofits need funding necessary to sustain and support all of their services that accomplish their mission. There are various ways for companies to form partnerships with nonprofit organizations. This could be a one-time grant, or in the model of an on-going matching gift, in which the company matches a cash gift made by an employee.

Donations of Products and Services
There are several ways your company can support cause and organizations in addition to cash grants. In-kind contributions can consist of products, supplies, property, or excess inventory. Loaned talent provides nonprofits with expertise to which they would not ordinarily have access.

Employee Involvement
This includes everything from encouraging volunteerism, donating services and time, matching cash donations, to facilitating employee days-off to volunteer as a group, or to individual organizations of their choice.

Social cause marketing is essentially the use of commercial marketing techniques to affect social change through any one of the tactics discussed above. It is a cost-effective way to bring behavioral change in a way that impacts the bottom line of social issues and social programs and the corporate bottom line at the same time. To be competitive in the future, every company, regardless of size, must decide how to meet its perceived social responsibility in their local communities.

Some of the important concepts of social cause marketing:

  • The ultimate objective of marketing is to influence action
  • Action is undertaken whenever target audiences believe that the benefits they receive will be greater than the costs they incur
  • Programs to influence action will be more effective if they are based on an understanding of the target audience’s own perceptions of the proposed exchange
  • Target audiences are seldom uniform in their perceptions and/or likely responses to marketing efforts and so should be partitioned into segments
  • A well-prepared communications strategy includes press releases, new product announcements, a detailed Web site, email newsletters, internal company-wide newsletters

The time is now, when the world is recovering from corporate scandals like Enron, Tyco, and Anderson Consulting. Following this period, when large corporations and their executives were cheating, is a new era of corporate responsibility. It is time for all companies to circle back and work with local communities. For a company to survive—so must the communities in which they do business.

While large, well-capitalized companies may have a staff of full-time employees and easy access to large consulting firms, this is not always an affordable strategy for smaller companies. However, the experience of many small businesses demonstrates that it is feasible to accomplish significant inroads into their local communities utilizing creative and innovation approaches without the big expenditures.

Case Study: Simple Green At The Beach

The Simple Green story began over twenty-five years ago, long before “environmentally friendly” products were mandated by law or considered the new trend. Bruce FaBrizio and his father developed a safer alternative to the toxic cleaners originally designed to remove tannic acid, a by-product of coffee roasting, from roasting machinery. It took three years to perfect the biodegradable, not-toxic, non-flammable, non-abrasive formula. After its initial success, Bruce began selling Simple Green to industrial customers in 55-gallon drums; which he delivered in his van, for use as a cleaner on equipment and floors.

Mission Statement for Simple Green
“We, the Sunshine Makers, as a socially responsible company, are committed to being worldwide market leaders providing quality, environmentally safe, cleaning products.”

Simple Green’s EGBAR Foundation
The EGBAR Foundation was established in 1989 by Bruce P. FaBrizio, President, CEO & Chairman of Sunshine Makers, Inc. EGBAR is an acronym for Everything’s Gonna Be All Right. To clearly demonstrate Sunshine Makers, Inc. steadfast commitment to environmental issues, the company contributes a percentage of its annual sales of Simple Green products to the EGBAR Foundation.

Mission Statement For The EGBAR Foundation
“The EGBAR® Foundation is a vehicle for change. It’s primary function: To create an appreciably cleaner environment by instilling in children throughout the world, the importance of “Making a Difference” one wall, one community at a time.”

The EGBAR Foundation embodies the spirit of the company, which believes in the importance of a safely cleaned environment. The Foundation’s basic goals are to: educate children throughout the world about the importance of protecting the environment; create greater awareness of community environmental clean-up needs; challenge all segments of the community to be responsive to these needs; and raise funds to affect action on projects that address these needs.

Other Case Studies For Social Cause Marketing

Case Study: Dell Computer Co-branding with CHF International
Through a strategic partnership, CHF International and Dell Computers launched a two-month, nationwide campaign spring 2006 to highlight how Dell technology is empowering CHF International and millions of beneficiaries to build a better world each day. CHF is making a big impact with a small number of employees. They focus on improving basic infrastructures, providing loans for new housing initiatives, or nurturing local economies with enterprise development programs. Their work is helping to enhance the social, economic, and environmental conditions for millions in need.

Case Study: Lenscrafters and Recycled Eye Glasses
In 1988, LensCrafters created Give the Gift of Sight, a family of charitable vision care programs that provides free eye care and glasses to those in need in our communities and in developing countries around the world. Gift of Sight is sponsored by the Gift of Sight Foundation, Lions Clubs International and local charities across North America. Each year, through Gift of Sight International, the company’s store associates and affiliated doctors deliver free eye exams and recycled glasses to more than 300,000 people in developing countries by way of monthly optical missions cosponsored with Lions Clubs International.

Case Study: Paul Newman’s Own Organic Foods and Market Positioning
Paul Newman the actor founded Newman’s Own, a line of food products, in 1982. The brand started with salad dressing, and has expanded to include pasta sauce, lemonade, popcorn, and salsa, among other things. So actually, Newman’s Own, Inc. makes no gift to charity, but Paul Newman, who receives all the profits and royalties from Newman’s Own, distributes all of that personally to the charities of his choice. The company claims that Paul Newman and the Newman’s Own Foundation have given over $200 million to thousands of charities worldwide since l982.

Case Study: Office Depot and in-store Donation Program
Office Depot, Inc. Founded in 1986, is one of the world’s largest sellers of office products and an industry leader in every distribution channel, including stores, direct mail, contract delivery, the Internet and business-to-business electronic commerce. Since Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, followed by Hurricane Rita, and with the subsequent impact of Hurricane Wilma in Florida, Office Depot’s Department of Community Relations has been in continuing contact with the American Red Cross, the United States Chamber of Commerce, Feed The Children and other national organizations that are playing integral roles in the relief efforts. Their immediate response to the hurricane included: a $1 million donation to the American Red Cross, an in-kind donation of products worth $13 million to Feed The Children, an in-kind donation of products worth $4 million to the City of New Orleans, and an in-store donation program that enables our customers to contribute $1, $5 or $10 to support the Red Cross.

SOURCE: Roadmap To Entrepreneurial Success

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