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Giving Back With Cause Marketing

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cause marketingWhen your business gives to a worthy cause, everyone wins. So what’s the best way to go about it? Here’s a six-step plan that identifies how to use cause marketing and create win-wins for everyone involved.

Step 1: Choose a cause that aligns with your business

Many small business owners are the business, so this could be as easy as choosing something that’s close to your heart. Perhaps you have a family member that is hearing impaired or a child with an illness that compels you to give. If this isn’t the case, look for tie-ins that align with your business. For instance, if you operate a catering company, a local food pantry would be a fitting choice.

Step 2: Make sure your customers can relate to your cause

Before you go all in with the cause of your choice, ask yourself “is this something my customers will get behind?” If the answer is yes, you can take things to the next level. If not, or if you’re unsure, a simple way to find out is to ask. Create a survey using Survey Monkey or Constant Contact or talk to a few of your best customers.

Step 3: Integrate accordingly

Some businesses are attached to their causes at a fundamental level. Toms shoes and apparel is built on a foundation of one-to-one gifts to charity. Other companies choose to integrate their efforts selectively. Decide how committed you’d like to be, whether it’s donating a percentage of your sales, sponsoring an event or simply building awareness with a point-of-sale brochure. Many businesses start small and build on their successes.

Step 4: Create a cause awareness campaign

Once you’ve decided which cause your business will support and the extent it wants to get involved, promote your efforts. Cause awareness campaigns are tailor made for social media because they’re flexible, immediate and inexpensive. For example, if your business sponsors a breast cancer awareness booth at a local festival, you can post updates on Facebook and Instagram in real time. If marketing dollars permit, traditional media is also an option where tactics such as radio, television and billboards can still get your message across.

Step 5: Shoot for viral

While it’s impossible to predict which campaigns will go viral, it pays to try. Think of ways you can promote your business and a cause that will flourish in the digital spaces occupied by social media and online content. Take your cues from successful campaigns like the Ice Bucket Challenge. It was easy, anyone could get involved and it translated well.

Step 6: Set an example your employees can emulate

It pays to mention that as a business owner with a cause to promote, you have to practice what you preach. Show your employees that you’re sincere about your cause and not just considering it to drum up business. The more you get involved, the more they’ll become champions for your cause in their own right.

When you run a business with a cause to support, you walk a fine line between philanthropy and prosperity. By following these six steps you can ensure that the line leads to success on both fronts.

For more insight on cause marketing, check out our two part series (Part I and Part II) from TheWire.

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