Doing good while doing well is all the rage. It seems every brand has some form of cause marketing or charity affiliation. But not everyone knows how to use that involvement to increase the engagement of their customers or employees. So, if increased engagement is top of mind for you, what follows are three key considerations to help organizations commit to a cause-marketing relationship.
1. Have a strategy. I know, shocking right?
Many organizations take a step towards activating a program without a serious plan of attack. Often it is because no one knows who owns the project from the beginning. Is it human resources, marketing, public relations or the company’s community outreach committee, perhaps? Implementing a structure for the program will enable relevant internal stakeholders to participate in a meaningful way.
2. Communicate, motivate, activate.
A cause-marketing program has three constituencies--employees, the charity partner and customers--so keeping them informed and aware of their roles is critical.
First, know and communicate the essence of your brand strategy and how that relates to your cause-marketing efforts. Simple and consistent communication internally helps employees to understand that they are a part of something larger than just profits for shareholders. They will love it, and it’ll also allow you to make a more consistent impact.
After they know what, they will need to know why. This information is what they are hungry for and will motivate them. Like intelligent brand-strategy development, a good cause-marketing strategy needs to acknowledge that your best employees and customers do not just want to work or buy stuff. They want to be a part of something bigger and meaningful. They want to join a club. Help them understand that alignment with more than just cash flow reinforces that everyone is in it together.
Then, you’re ready to activate. Armed with the knowledge of what and why, your constituents are ready to take on the how and apply the scale and implementation force to make a real impact. One benefit of a well-orchestrated initiative is the broader impact you can make when you act together instead of relying on the efforts of the individual.
3. Avoid waste
Before you start, know what everyone wants. Don’t assume what others may want, as this is about scale and leverage. The wrong assumption can deliver unintended consequences. Don’t waste a minute, action or volunteered effort. Know what customers find rewarding, learn how the charity partner will benefit and find out how your talent pool can specifically play a role. Next, leverage your customers. Your ability to align and motivate them creates the greatest scale of all. Be certain your efforts align with them and the choices and purchase decisions they make everyday. Help them pick your club and join your cause.
The greatest success comes from aligning your brand with things that are true to you. Some years ago, I found myself in a meeting, where a co-worker said two sentences that changed my career forever:“Relax, for crying out loud. All this stuff is going to end up in a landfill some day.”
I knew in that moment that I wanted to be held to a higher standard. I wanted to create a culture that would demand that the sum total of our efforts would have a broader impact and not simply accept being carted off to the city dump.
Making a difference requires what I call the three T’s: time, treasure and talent.
Time: About three years ago, we instituted Make a Difference Day, an annual event where our entire company closes down for a work day and spends it in our local Dallas community tackling a project together. From schools to fire stations to food banks, our employees go all out to improve what we can and show we care. We also give employees an additional day of their own choosing for individual community contributions. This fall we have dedicated our quarterly Houseguests event to teaching others about effectively activating corporate social responsibility programs with leaders in the space, including Texas Instruments, Southern Methodist University and Dallas Children’s Hospital.
Treasure: Each holiday season, we can make a difference via our family adoption program. This seasonal effort has evolved into far more than simply running down to the local Toys R Us or Best Buy and picking up a few gifts. Now it entails offering a complete holiday experience for those in need. Our agency staff has humbled me with their creativity in coming together to maximize the impact far beyond what is asked andto develop the most impactful effort for those in need.
Talent: We love our jobs, and so we love to use creativity to make a difference as well. The ability to develop ideas that bring amazing organizations to life can be a reward in itself. We love what we do, and it feels great to know that using creativity to make a real difference is something more and more organizations are becoming passionate about.
Keep these simple tips in mind and you’ll be amazed at the positive impact your organization can make … beyond the bottom line.