Online marketing has enabled small businesses to reach more prospects and customers than ever before. But how can these platforms help you build the brand loyalty and repeat purchases you need to drive long-term success? Many businesses find success with cause marketing, or cause-related marketing, which allows them to create and build better relationships with consumers. What exactly is cause marketing, and how can you use it to help your business?
Understanding Cause Marketing and Its Benefits
According to Wikipedia, “cause-related marketing refers to a type of marketing in the cooperative efforts of a “for profit” business and a non-profit organization for mutual benefit.” American Express coined the phrase in 1983 to describe its efforts to raise money for the restoration of the Statue of Liberty, in which it donated one cent to restoring the landmark every time someone used their card. This increased card usage by 28% and the number of new cardholders by 45%.
Cause marketing ties a company and its products and services to a charitable cause with the goal of boosting sales or overall image. Cause marketing can not only boost sales for SMBs, but also enhance brand loyalty and repeat purchases from existing clients. In fact, the Do Well Do Good Public Opinion Survey on Cause-Marketing found that 70% of consumers are willing to pay more for a product that supports a cause and 69% of consumers are willing to drive out of their way to purchase from a business that supports a cause that means a lot to them.
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Choosing the Cause for your Marketing Strategy
Choosing the right cause for your cause-related marketing strategy is the first step to your success. To find the right cause for your business to publically support, it should relate to your brand. For example, if you’re a sports medical clinic, you could consider supporting a charity that provides sports equipment to underprivileged schools or free health clinics for local children’s sporting teams, so that your customers will immediately get the connection to your brand. Before you jump into collaborating with any organization, you can collect data about your consumers to learn what they value most. Once you have a short list of causes you’d like to support, ask your customers what they think with email surveys, in-store notecards, or face-to-face interactions to help you determine which cause would fit best with your business. Then, after determining the level of involvement with the cause, you should contact the organization to notify them about your wish to support their cause, and ask for permission to use their name, information and other materials in your promotion. This can also be good for you, as they might recognize your support and participation across their own Web presence.
Promoting your Cause
Once you have permission to use your cause’s details, it’s time to promote your supporting efforts. Use social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube to make your fans and followers of your brand’s involvement and encourage them to share the news. One idea is to create a specific campaign around your charity. For instance, you can create a campaign to donate 10% of your proceeds to your charity on the first Tuesday of every month. Create a Web page for your campaign, and then spread the word about your “event” with a blog post, pictures, a short video about your cause, and other social posts. Promoting your campaign will increase awareness of your cause, boost customer loyalty, increase online word of mouth, and help drive more traffic to your business.
Boosting Your Online Reputation
Another benefit from cause marketing you may not have considered is the impact to your online reputation. Your business’ online reputation, including reviews, posts, comments, likes, and more, can affect whether or not a consumer will do business with you, you can use cause marketing to improve your reputation online. For instance, you can ask fans and followers to “like” and comment on posts about your charitable efforts as well as to share or retweet them with their networks, which can help more positive content show up in when someone searches for your business. Plus, supporting a cause that is important to your audience can increase customer loyalty and help you identify advocates for your business who are willing to promote your content and leave you positive reviews online.
Cause marketing is an excellent way for you to be a part of and give back to your local community. Plus, it’s a great strategy to consider when differentiating your brand from your competitors, both online and offline. With any marketing strategy, it’s important to create new, creative, and customized ideas for your brand that effectively grab the attention of your audience. Brainstorm ideas with your employees and find out what causes they feel fit best with your business.
About the Author
Ashley Stalnaker is a guest blogger and Web Presence Professional at ReachLocal. As part of the Auto Services Team, she consults with many auto dealerships throughout the U.S. about SEO and Internet marketing daily.