We’ve become a culture in which our calendars are dotted with months commemorating everything from alcohol awareness (April) to ultraviolet awareness (May). In those two months alone, you can find as many as 50 public information themes related to health.
October’s breast cancer awareness and its plethora of pink-themed campaigns, and the Movember campaign that focused on men’s health are examples of commemorative months in which mainstream non-health related brands enthusiastically added their support. And, in the health marketing arena there are hundreds of opportunities over the course of a year to tie your brand to a good cause. To ensure marketing dollars are well spent, you will first want to have a complete strategy in place that enables your tie-in campaign to be distinctive and compelling to get above the noise.
Following are a few recommendations for consideration:
Are You Relevant? If you’re an eyeglass manufacturer, Women’s Eye Health and Safety Month (April) is a natural fit. For supplement and vitamin manufacturers, National Nutrition Month (March) might be an appropriate tie-in. One of the criticisms of October’s breast cancer awareness month was of companies “pink washing,” where there was a low correlation between the cause and the products. Marketers are best advised to select a month, or week, to tie-in with that is the most natural fit for their product – and one that easily aligns the featured brand with the cause in a way that makes sense for a consumer marketplace that is over-inundated with brand messages.
Can You Provide a Specific Call-to-Action? Mammograms and prostate cancer screenings are calls-to- action that have proven highly successful in cause marketing. Movember’s grow-a-mustache practice became a global phenomenon. The novelty of the campaign – fueled largely through social media and via national morning show support – was a key to its success. The take-away: Your message has to be more compelling than simply “take your vitamins.” For National Women’s Check-Up Day (May 12) a supplement manufacturer, for example, might recommend a heart check up for those beginning middle-age, or an osteoporosis checkup for women who are post-menopausal. The more specific marketers can be in suggesting a health practice that is targeted directly toward their consumer’s needs and lifestyle, the more effective their marketing spend will likely be.
Are You Matching Marketing Channels to Your Customer? One of the reasons the Movember campaign worked was that organizers really knew and understand their demographic. Originally skewed toward younger men who were willing to grow a mustache, the campaign fit well into the Twitterverse and other social media channels. It became cool to participate in Movember. When choosing a tie-in cause, take the time to look at your analytics and dedicate marketing dollars to the channels that are the most likely to engage your intended audience.
Do You Have Compelling Content Ready? In addition to your ongoing marketing vehicles, it’s imperative to have “omni-channel” content specifically designed to support your cause marketing. Customer engagement will only occur if you have the interactive vehicles in place so your target can share their participation and drive conversation with others. Engaged consumers will want to congratulate themselves on getting that eye exam, or adopting better nutrition, or purchasing new vitamins – and in turn, participating brands have the opportunity to become a part of that conversation.
Be Aware of Context. Contextual marketing speaks to a brand’s ability to understand when and how customers decide to take an action. For example, you don’t want to present a call-to-action without the opportunity to spotlight your brand message. It’s important to understand the context in which your customers respond. If the target is a busy mom, a Facebook post she can check on the fly via mobile might be the best approach – and one way or the other, the message needs to be empathetic to her time constraints and on-the-go lifestyle.
Healthy cause marketing has now become as institutionalized as the Super Bowl or Earth Day. Tying your product to a cause that is relevant to your customer base can pay off in further customer engagement but first make sure you have content, context and messaging clearly defined and in place.