Strategies for Building an Effective Cause Marketing Program
Drawing positive attention to your company takes much more commitment than it did just a decade ago. Today’s hyper-connected consumer wants to identify with a brand even more so than in the past. And today’s employees want to feel passionate about their work. As we’ve pointed out before, corporate philanthropy and cause marketing have the power to engage both employees and customers to build long-term relationships that will strengthen your business.
An effective cause marketing program should be designed to reach larger audiences, promote positive outcomes, and help the community at large. You can build an effective program by using specific strategies and best practices in your own corporate philanthropy efforts.
Build Your Cause Marketing Program Around Goals
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts should have several goals in mind. First and foremost, your efforts must make a positive impact on your local community, critical issues across the nation, or around the globe. Secondly, your CSR program should be designed to keep employees and customers engaged with your company. Finally, from the very beginning your program should be designed to improve your bottom line, a goal that will ultimately make your efforts more effective.
Start by focusing your efforts specifically on issues where your company can show a measurable impact and then report on this impact through social media, advertising, internal communications, and other marketing channels to let others know of your success. It helps to work with a broad range of charitable organizations so you can leverage different aspects of your company across multiple areas of philanthropy. This promotes your CSR efforts among different groups of stakeholders, including employees and customers.
Consider Your Business Objectives
Cause marketing should never come at the expense of your primary business objectives. A well-implemented CSR program will enhance your business and elevate your position in the marketplace. Companies that actively engage in philanthropy have a unique angle to differentiate themselves from their competitors.
As you plan your cause marketing program, it is essential to make informed decisions about how you expend your energy and resources. Start by looking for initiatives that fit into what you already do well and what your customers expect of you. Making smart choices about your activities can enhance brand awareness and engagement, helping you meet your larger business objectives.
Think Locally to Keep Employees Engaged
Even for large companies with a global scale, local communities matter. Global businesses still have physical offices where people go to work every day. Your employees live and work in communities near these offices and your business impacts everything from their schools to utilities to traffic. When you extend your CSR program to have a positive impact in these local communities, you strengthen employee engagement and increase the effectiveness of your cause marketing efforts.
To find local cause marketing opportunities, connect with regional CSR groups and other businesses in the community who share your philanthropic goals. There can be a strong synergistic effect from companies working together, so take advantage of these opportunities to build long-term relationships with local organizations and businesses
Connect with the CSR Community
When it comes to your corporate philanthropy program, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Many other companies have already successfully launched CSR programs from the position you’re in now. The CSR community is full of wonderful people who are eager to share their strategies around cause marketing. The more you talk about your philanthropy initiatives, the more people will step up to support you.
Make use of networking opportunities to talk about your program, seek advice from others, and find collaborative partners. There are plenty of opportunities to engage with other CSR managers through regional and national conferences. Social networking platforms such as LinkedIn create other opportunities to network as well. Many of the groups on LinkedIn have active discussions; joining these will give you the chance to present your questions to a very supportive online community.
Choose the Right Philanthropy Partner
Companies use technology to help simplify all aspects of doing business, and CSR is no different. Online philanthropy platforms make cause marketing programs much easier to implement and administer. It’s important that the corporate philanthropy provider you work with is experienced and is prepared to act as a true partner, not just another software vendor.
Choosing the right technology tool will simplify the process from start to finish. Begin by making sure the solution you choose is easy and intuitive for your employees. You must also ensure that the tracking and distribution of your donor’s gifts is transparent, timely, and handled directly by your philanthropy partner. While most vendors claim to provide fully integrated solutions, the vast majority of them outsource their processing and distribution to a third party which can result in delays and improperly distributed donations. Finally, the provider you choose should offer real-time reporting to measure the efficacy of your program.
FrontStream’s comprehensive Workplace Giving platform provides a simple solution that will cut down on your administrative headaches and allow you to focus on running an effective program.
Join Us at the 2013 Cause Marketing Forum
Join us at the 2013 Cause Marketing Forum in Chicago on May 29 and May 30 to discuss best practices for cause marketing. We’d love to share our stories and hear about what you’ve been doing to implement an effective CSR program in your own organization.