It’s the holidays, and many businesses consider this period a good time of the year to engage in cause-related marketing (CRM). Giving back is always a good thing, but it can also be part of an ongoing strategy, not just one limited to the weeks between Thanksgiving and the New Year.
Why? According to a Nielson 213 “Consumers Who Care” study, 50% of global consumers said they “would be willing to reward companies that give back to society by paying more for their goods and services….” That should be more than enough of an incentive to consider incorporating CRM into your 2016 planning. Here are a few tips to creating and implementing a successful CRM program:
Tip 1 – Determine your objectives. Do you want build greater awareness of your company to existing audiences? Do you want to attract new customers? Take time to consider your goal and then plan accordingly.
Tip 2 – Be authentic. CRM isn’t just about you – it’s about helping a cause. As with networking, it’s a give and get relationship. So, when looking for a cause, select one that you truly care about – not one based solely on the anticipated returns.
Tip 3 – Time dedication. Be practical about how much time you can realistically commit. If you can only devote a few hours a month, look for causes that have programs where that time will be used to maximum effort. It can be a soup kitchen, where you donate an hour each week handing out food. Or it can be a children’s program. I served on the board of the Pajama Program, a charity that provides new pajamas and books to children in need. Volunteers can spend time simply reading to and with youngsters. It may only be an hour a week, but I have seen first-hand how much of an impact that sixty minutes can make with a child.
Tip 4 – Try it out first. Before you commit to a cause, take a couple of months before publicizing the relationship. You need time to ensure that the partnership is working to the satisfaction of all involved.
Tip 5 – Announce the relationship. As mentioned, a priority in CRM – aside from giving back – is to grow your business. You can subtly leverage your cause-marketing program to your publics via several avenues:
-- Include your activities in your company newsletter.
-- Ask the organization if they will include mention of your relationship in their marketing collateral. Offer to write the copy – this gives you more control about what is said. Remember, they have final approval over the content, so don’t make the copy a commercial for your company. Highlight what you’re doing; why you chose the charity to work with; and say what you hope to accomplish. Selling yourself softly is the best route to take.
-- Send a press release to the local media announcing the relationship. Include a quote from the charity’s chief executive officer in the document. Trade publications are especially good targets for these types of announcements. Send the information to the Chamber for possible consideration in the monthly newsletter. Let reporters know you and the organization’s CEO are available for interviews – this helps to increase attention from the media outlet.
When done correctly - defining your objective; taking the time to choose a charity that resonates with you; dedicating the time to work with it; sharing the information with your audiences; and always being authentic in your relationship and commitment – cause-related marketing can be a year-round and rewarding business-building tool for your organization.