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How to make cause marketing work for your organization

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Part 13 from the Win-Win for the Greater Good series

Cause marketing is a specialized subset of cross-sector partnerships, and like all cross-sector partnerships, cause marketing is a partnership between two or more sectors. Though in cause marketing, the partnership is primarily between nonprofit and for-profit organizations and is primarily about marketing, sales, fund development and increasing brand awareness. Cause marketing has grown by leaps and bounds, and in 2013 an estimated $1.78 billion was spent in North America alone on cause marketing campaigns.
Cause marketing is a marketing campaign with specific strategic goals and objectives. It is not an event, sponsorship or one-time project and certainly not philanthropy. You will find as we explore further into this area that a well-strategized and well-developed cause marketing campaign will bring you many of the benefits we have discussed in cross-sector partnerships.

While there are many definitions of cause marketing, the following is how I prefer to define it:
Cause marketing is a partnership between two or more nonprofit and for-profit organizations whereby each party receives benefit toward their individual marketing objectives while striving through their combined resources to create a greater good.

Let’s break this definition down to see why this particular description is a bit more comprehensive, and possibly more demanding among others available, yet touches upon the foundational elements of highly successful cause marketing campaigns.

Partnership: Going into the partnership, both sides should come together as equals. This equality is necessary for a fair, trusting and successful working partnership. Without this trust, without this focus on true partnership, your campaign is dead in the water before it’s launched.

Two or more: In most cases, a cause marketing partnership is between two partners, but as we have seen, sometimes partnerships can have three and even four sectors involved. And sometimes, even multiple partners within sectors. Bringing multiple partners together can leverage the success of the marketing objectives. So don’t limit your partner opportunity thinking. More may be better, or maybe not, based on your marketing strategy and campaign needs.

Individual marketing objectives: All sides may be approaching this partnership with very different marketing objectives and internal agendas. This is to be expected. Having clear communication and understanding about these separate agendas and objectives and then working toward the benefit of all partners will greatly enhance the overall success of your cause marketing campaign.

Combined resources: Possibly more than in any other marketing or promotional endeavor, the successful execution of your cause marketing strategy and resulting campaign creates a whole far greater than the sum of its individual parts. You just can't possibly accomplish alone what you can do working together for your mutual success.

Create a greater good: This is the part of my definition that seems to be left out in every other definition I've ever seen. However it is this focus on the greater good that sets the foundation for your successful campaign. Focusing on the greater good is the key ingredient that will motivate all partners and stakeholders involved in your campaign. The greatest impact, the real magic, comes when your campaign focuses on the people, issues or environment that will benefit from the campaign:

• Those whose lives will be saved because they are now prepared for an emergency
• The women and men in the future who will not get breast cancer because of the research you are helping to fund
• The homeless who will be given shelter
• The children who will be saved from starvation
• Addressing serious environmental situations

This is the greater good. You can address any nonprofit’s cause, but to be optimally successful, you must focus on who or what will benefit from your effort. Nonprofits as such are not causes in and of themselves, but facilitators that bring much-needed services and support to the cause, which of course, is the people, environment or social issues themselves…the greater good.

Please visit www.bruceburtch.com for more information and to view Win-Win for the Greater Good

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