What association comes up when you think of Dove? For many people, Dove is synonymous with body positivity and celebrating all faces of human beauty. Ever since 2004 and their first body-positive campaign, Dove persistently crafted and fought for this cause.
Cause marketing centers around the value(s) that a company stands for, which may or may not be connected to their products, and may or may not be deeply controversial, even provocative. Warby Parker helps children and poorer members of society get new eyeglasses; Toms does the same with shoes. They both use “buy a pair – give a pair” model. Target and CoverGirl are promoting LGBTQ+ rights, while Dick’s Sporting Goods are very vocal about the issues of gun control.
Why are causes so important in today’s economy?
Value-based economy: What do you believe in?
Have you ever had a brand that you liked and, upon hearing about their malpractice or nefarious deeds – say, child labor or hazardous environmental impact – changed your perception, maybe even stopped buying their products altogether? Something clearly supersedes the quality of products and affects our buying decisions.
Unlike negative examples, some brands naturally connect with our innermost values: democracy, basic human rights, education, animal testing, and myriad of others.
As we are repulsed by the former, we are organically drawn to the latter – we feel the connection and wish to support these brands.
These brands are using cause marketing – they built their marketing around the cause(s) they represent. And because these causes align with values of their customers, the connection (and customer loyalty) is that much stronger.
Do you need a cause?
It would be fair to raise a question whether a small-and-medium-sized business need a cause. Sure, corporations and gigantic companies can “afford” standing up for social justice and devoting entire campaigns (and enormous amount of money) to solving big social issues. But small and medium businesses?
Honestly, in today’s economy, you can’t afford not to have a cause.
As we transition to value-based economy with the support of social media, and buying decisions increasingly hang on reviews (Yelp, Google, comments, etc.), for every business it becomes imperative to build their own micro-niches and communities. What forms these communities in the first place, and holds them together?
You guessed it: values, i.e. causes.
When educating is best marketing
So, how do you proceed, once you’ve established a cause that’s close to your heart?
There are a few pointers to help you along the way:
- Be vocal about your cause – You don’t want to be shy about the values you’re representing. First of all, nobody likes half-hearted, bleak demonstration of passion. And secondly, do not assume that your customers simply know what your company is about – make sure they hear you, loud and clear.
- Start with a single cause – Although it might seem logical that more causes bring more benefits, in reality – a single cause is much more effective. Dove is a clear example of this – they’ve devoted themselves to body positivity and nowadays a whopping 53% of customers associate Dove with it.
- Talk about your cause, don’t sell – With cause marketing, one walks a thin line between not talking enough and clearly using all the good deeds they’ve done for profits. The golden mean? Educate your customers and audience about the cause you’re representing. Don’t brag – use the time to raise awareness and put words into action.
Which cause to choose?
First of all, cause marketing requires and deserves thorough deliberation. To start you off on this process, there are three general “categories” of causes, relating to business operations:
- Safe causes – These are the causes that are not provocative and are least likely to stir strong reactions; they are typically connected to company’s existing products. Sometimes, with these causes, your business could be seen as exploitative and profit-oriented.
- Focus on the user – In this category, companies will typically focus on society and issues of social justice, and not put focus on their products. A company exhibits genuine care for social justice and its customers. This category brings optimal balance between risks and benefits, for companies that don’t want to be too controversial.
- Bold causes – Highly provocative, with risk of initial backlash, but, at the same time, with immense future rewards. Studies show that younger generations support rebels with a cause.
Whatever your choice may be, it’s better than no choice!
At ScholarshipApp, for example, we believe in alleviating students’ loans and helping everyone secure financial means for their education. To us, it is one of the most important aspects and central issues in social justice: education for all.
If you feel education is a cause close to your heart, make sure you check our website and see what we stand for.