Cause-Related Marketing – Revisited
As Marketing Director at CheckAlt Payment Services (formerly Skyline’s DirectFED Payment Services), one of my many roles is as blogger for the company blog. While Sarah Goldbaum ably leads this effort as part of her social media marketing, I contribute periodically.

She started a thread on using volunteerism and community support as a means to expand awareness of a company, which I followed in my upcoming post for this week.

This got me to thinking about cause-related marketing. I recently wrote a guide to eBay Giving Works and its relationship to cause-related marketing. I was looking for the best definition to include in this guide, and here’s what I assembled from the explanations I found:

• Cause-related marketing is defined as the public association of a for-profit company with a nonprofit organization, intended to promote the company’s product or service and to raise money for the nonprofit.
• CRM is generally considered to be distinct from corporate philanthropy because the corporate dollars involved in CRM are not outright gifts to a nonprofit organization, hence not tax-deductible. However, the company benefits from gaining a positive reputation with their market.

Some History of Cause Related Marketing:

• The phrase “cause-related marketing” was first used by American Express in 1983 to describe its campaign to raise money for the restoration of the Statue of Liberty.
• American Express made a one-cent donation to the Statue of Liberty every time someone used its charge card.
• The number of new card holders soon grew by 45%, and card usage increased by 28%.

Why Do This?

Recent studies have documented that:
• Consumers carefully consider a company’s reputation when making purchasing decisions
• A company’s community involvement boosts employee morale and loyalty
• According to the Cone Millennial Cause Study in 2006, 89% of Americans (aged 13 to 25) would switch from one brand to another brand of a comparable product (and price) if the latter brand was associated with a “good cause.”

Tips to Leverage CRM

Cause-related marketing can become a cornerstone of your marketing plan. Ideally, your cause-related marketing activities should highlight your company’s reputation within your target market.

Cause-related marketing can positively differentiate your company from your competitors and provide an edge that delivers other tangible benefits, including:
• Increased sales
• Increased visibility
• Increased customer loyalty
• Enhanced company image
• Positive media coverage

Tips to Leverage CRM

• Team up with a charity. This means getting involved in as many ways as possible and really owning the relationship with them. In the DirectFED blog, I point to some great examples of this.
• Select a cause that is important to your target market. Note that womens products are likely to have an association with womens causes, such as breast cancer. Try to determine which charity is best for you to highlight your values and those of your customer base.
• Have fliers for your charity in your business, or links on your website
• Volunteer for the charity. This:
• Demonstrates commitment
• Builds awareness
• Builds your network among other volunteers or board members
But that doesn’t mean everyone is doing it. Whether out of a spirit of good old fashioned community support, or as part of an organized campaign of cause-related marketing, not everyone has seen the light. But take a look around the country, as I recently had a chance to, and you can see many firms active in this movement.

The Lasting Benefits
One thing I can say from my own experience, volunteers are proud of their efforts and enjoy telling their friends and family about them. Those T-shirts that volunteers “get” to wear on the day of the event? They’ll be worn for months and even years to come, a constant reminder to their neighbors and friends about the generosity of their credit union employee. Hmm. I wonder where my old volunteer T’s have gone? I wonder if my wife knows . . . .