The Cause Marketing ®evolution

‘Cause marketing’ is one of those buzzwords that can evoke a strong reaction from marketers. It calls to mind visions of aisles upon aisles of ‘pink-washed’ consumer products, and is often credited with being a cause of increasing skepticism in customers. That’s when it’s done wrong. But when it’s done right, cause marketing can build brand buy-in, engage customers, and greatly benefit both partners.

A Little Bit of Cause Marketing History

Though it may not feel like it since it has become so ubiquitous, cause marketing is a relatively new tactic in the marketing arena. It was famously introduced in 1976 with a partnership between the Marriot Corporation and the March of Dimes. The two organizations joined forces to promote Marriot’s family entertainment complex in Santa Clara, California while simultaneously fundraising for the March of Dimes’ cause – the prevention of birth defects in babies. The campaign was successful on both counts, and corporations around the world quickly jumped on the cause marketing bandwagon.

“It was predicted that cause sponsorship would reach $1.92 billion in 2015, a projected increase of 3.7% over 2014.”  IEG Sponsorship Report

The Challenge: It’s not a transaction. It’s a relationship.

The traditional model is purely transactional, and all parties are to blame for the disenchantment of consumers.  The model where nonprofit organizations solicit logo sponsorships for cash needs to go. It is imperative that we develop a foundation for deeper relationships where they deliver added value beyond the “one-off” to their corporate partners.

Corporations have the reach and ability to have a real social impact while also delivering value in the marketplace and a bottom-line financial profit. This is not only a great opportunity for Corporate Social Responsibility programs, but also a great market opportunity.  Millennials and their growing economic clout, with other generations following, are increasingly aligning themselves with socially responsible brands that support the causes they care about — and rewarding these companies with their purchasing loyalty.

The process doesn’t stop at sales or donations anymore – It’s about long-lasting relationships. Any marketer who knows what’s what will happily tell you that relationships result in sales, and are worth more on a lifetime value basis any day. The challenge is to make socially responsible efforts a winning proposition for companies, nonprofits, and the community.

“89% of U.S. consumers would switch brands to one associated with a cause, given comparable price and quality.” 2013 Cone Communications Social Impact Study

Crowdfunding and Cause Marketing: The Revolution of Word-of-Mouth Marketing

Crowdfunding is in a unique position to disrupt cause marketing and revitalize the field with increased engagement while providing greater value to nonprofits and community causes, customers, and companies. Sponsifi enables companies and causes to crowdfund and incentivize donors with rewards or dollar matching. The cause, whether it’s a local little league team or an international nonprofit organization, is able to reach a wider audience and get more donors, while the company has the opportunity to activate these donors as customers by providing them with discounts or promotional items.  In this way, donors know the company is aligned with causes they care about, are rewarded for their donation, and are more likely to align themselves with the company.

Have questions about how you can use cause marketing to achieve your goals? Get in touch with the Sponsifi team today!