You may be familiar with TOMS' original business model – for every pair of shoes you buy, a pair is donated to someone in need. I can distinctly recall the advertisements, the "One Day Without Shoes" campaign, and the detailed information on the tag about where the shoes are donated and who will benefit. The social impact-driven nature of their brand resulted in great success, and the shoes quickly became popular (they were all the rage at my high school). Over time, TOMS evolved their mission beyond shoes and now invests 1/3 of all profits into grassroots campaigns and organizations in local communities. TOMS' story and business model is a prime example of cause marketing.
Cause marketing has become a powerful strategy for businesses to make a positive social impact while promoting their brand. If done correctly, it's a win-win for both companies and the charitable organizations and causes that benefit from these campaigns. By aligning with a cause, companies can engage customers, build loyalty, and drive meaningful change – much like TOMS. In this blog post, we'll explore five key tactics that can up-level your cause marketing efforts, drawing inspiration from industry experts and successful campaigns.
1. Choose an authentic cause
Selecting the right cause is crucial for an effective cause marketing campaign. Start by identifying a cause that aligns with your brand's values and resonates with your target audience. Authenticity is key, so choose a cause that genuinely reflects your company's mission and beliefs. For TOMS, this was simple – buy a pair of shoes, donate a pair of shoes. The one-to-one nature of their mission was easy for consumers to understand and the impact was felt. Research shows that consumers can sense inauthenticity, so ensure your cause is something your brand is genuinely committed to supporting. By selecting an authentic cause, you can build trust, enhance your brand's reputation, and connect with customers on a deeper level.
2. Establish meaningful partnerships
Collaborating with reputable nonprofits is a crucial aspect of successful cause marketing. Look for organizations that have a strong track record, align with your chosen cause, and share your values. Establish a genuine partnership by working closely with the nonprofit to understand their needs and goals. Trust needs to be built, especially when building a long-lasting campaign and partnership. This collaboration can lead to innovative joint initiatives, co-created content, and shared resources, maximizing the impact of your cause marketing efforts. By partnering with a credible organization, you can leverage their expertise and established network to amplify your message and reach a wider audience.
3. Create compelling and shareable content
Engaging content is essential to capturing the attention and interest of your target audience, including donors. Develop compelling stories that highlight the impact your cause is making. Utilize various formats such as videos (especially short-form videos), illustrated infographics, and blog posts to convey your message effectively. In the hunt for viral content, you might also consider celebrity endorsements. Make the content shareable, encouraging your audience to spread the word and become advocates for your cause. Leverage social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram to amplify your content's reach and engage with your audience through interactive campaigns, hashtags, and user-generated content. Compelling and shareable content can create a ripple effect, increasing awareness and driving participation in your cause marketing campaign. A great example of this would be the ice bucket challenge, which raised awareness for and greatly accelerated the fight against ALS.