Unite To Ignite

Teens want to unite to ignite. They want to change the world. Teens want brands they support to be a part of the solution to solving the world's problems. They want corporations to do more than give money to a cause; they want them to make 'doing good' a part of their daily business.

Teens will not support a cause-marketing program that is a wolf (marketing) in sheep's clothing (cause marketing).

How do you build your brand and change the world? Here's what teens told us they want -- the top 9 list. Why 9? Because top 10 lists are getting boring (see #5 below).

1. Be authentic. Repeat: Be authentic. No gimmicks.

2. Engage them with more than 'stuff' and self-interest.

3. Be transparent. They want to know what charity you are supporting and the impact they and you are making. They don't want percentages (i.e., 2% of profits); they want real numbers.

4. Do not use cause marketing to fix a bad or broken product. This strategy will backfire.



5. Don't bore them. Contest fatigue is setting in. They love to vote, but too many lame voting campaigns are out there. This goes back to being transparent; they want to know that their votes count.

6. Keep it simple.

7. Be relevant. Ignite a movement around an issue that is important to them. Some of their hot buttons: Gender equality, clean water, combating child sex trade, ensuring environmental sustainability, ending poverty and hunger, universal education, attacking HIV/AIDS and other diseases, violence and bullying, health and fitness, animal welfare, and saving children.

8. Understand them and what motivates them. Here's just one example that will show that you need to do more than kitchen research to really understand what motivates them: Lulu Cerone, the teen founder of LemonAID Warriors, tells us: "I was motivated by the effectiveness of President Obama's grassroots movement during his 2008 election. At nine years old, I was a campaign volunteer. After the election, his online campaign continued to reach out to us volunteers and encourage community service. I took that seriously. When the earthquake in Haiti hit, I used what I learned about grassroots motivation to reach out to my friends and family and watched my little classroom lemonade stand spread across the country to raise $4,000 in two weeks. I decided to keep motivating my community and look for issues that could benefit from our work." Would you have learned this by asking your daughter or niece?

9. Educate people and move them to action (emotion).

Who does it right? One of my favorites that keeps getting better and hits all the points listed above:

From TOMS website -- it's on every page: "With every pair purchased, TOMS will give a pair of new shoes to a child in need. One for One."

  • It's a movement that is about people making everyday choices that improve the lives of children.
  • TOMS makes shoes. Shoes are needed to protect children's health. TOMS gives children shoes. It's simple, it's their core business and it changes the world.
  • Their story creates conversations. One Day without Shoes (I love this video) -- on April 5, 2011, TOMS encouraged people to go without (shoes). It was the #1 Twitter trending topic and the #4 most-searched term on Google. They walk the walk and people walk with them.

Do you have a cause-marketing campaign? Is there a campaign that you like or don't like? Rate them; take the nine points listed above and see how the campaign scores. Can you check all the boxes above? More than five? Fewer? Please share your scores/thoughts via comments below.

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