September 19-22 is The 2nd Annual Social Good Summit in New York City. Innovative technologists, influential minds and activists with one shared goal: to unlock the potential of new media and technology to make the world a better place. Not to mention make help brands make money. How? By engaging consumers where they are passionate.


In the past most marketing programs are developed for the sole purpose of creating awareness and making a brand known to the consumers. Cause Marketing was first introduced in 1976, and its purpose was to create media coverage and good public relations opportunities. The Marriot Corporation partnered with the March of Dimes to use their newly constructed family entertainment center at the Marriot’s Great America location in Santa Clara, California.  The March of Dimes fundraising was held in 67 cities simultaneously saving the Marriot Corporation money in marketing campaign for each of their new 200 acre family entertainment centers.

This idea was coined by Bruce Burtch, who went on to become a national figure as the initiator of cause marketing programs.  When asked by corporate CEO of other major corporations in 1977 of what his goal in life was, his response was as quoted, “do well by doing good.”

Cause Marketing and Social Good Possible?

Studies that were made to demonstrate that cause marketing and social good coexist have yielded positive results. In 2006, a study conducted at Cone Millennial showed that if product is offered at the same price and is comparable, nearly 89 percent of the respondents will shift brands if the newer brand is partnered with a nonprofit organization that promotes social good.

According to the research findings of Vivaldi and Partners, there is a 15 percent increase in brand loyalty and a 30 percent increase in brand perception by the community when utilizing cause marketing as a company.

The Members Project

The AMEX Members Project gave away $2.5m in 2008 prize awards to projects targeting Alzheimers disease detection (via the Alzheimer’s Association) , providing school supplies to low-income communities (via DonorsChoose), online social investing (via Kiva Microfunds), saving the lives of malnourished children (via International Medical Corps), and feeding needy children in India (via Akshaya Patra Foundation). For the projects to be nominated required votes from card holders. The project was a huge success for AMEX and resulted in a high volume card enrollments. Amex’s “net promoter score” — the chance a user would recommend the company to a friend — saw an 85% lift.

Kiva Gift Cards

Cause marketing efforts can also be effective on a smaller scale. We recently helped a client organize a conference at Harvard University with over 100 attendees. This was a very high-end event with a series of workshops and seminars featuring some of the world’s leading social commerce experts. As part of the event give away package each attendee received a $25 Kiva gift card. Kiva is a non-profit organization that has worldwide network of microfinance institutions and provides loans to needy people to create small businesses. This effort allowed the recipients to help someone in need, raised awareness of a great humanitarian organization to a group of very affluent people and had a positive affect on how they feel about our client.

How to make it work?

The following are tips to help achieve your goals of utilizing cause marketing and social good.

  1. Research: Like any marketing tool it is important to validate the effectiveness of a research method on your consumers before entirely implementing this program.  In doing so the company will have a clear objective of what are the best strategies to conduct their cause marketing and social good goal program.

  2. Clear concise goal and theme: A concise goal and theme will be easy to remember.  The consumer will be able to recognize the product just by the goals and vision it represents. Who can forget the tag line of Nike, “Just Do It” or Coca-Cola’s “Always”?

  3. Brand representation: Determine what the company’s goal is and align these with a non-profit cause organization that represents the same ideals.  It has to be a strong match, as an alcohol beverage industry will not be a good match up with an organization that supports cancer program.

  4. Employee participation: Employee participation generates loyalty and infusion of ideas. This also promotes belief in the cause of the company.  Employees become an extension in the efforts of the company to promote the product.

  5. Proper management: Cause marketing and social good is not a onetime act and offer.  It must be continuous to attain its full potential.  Proper care and management of the program will generate followers and create more loyalty to the brand.  The success of this marketing tool will mean success for the company.

So Remember

Everybody loves a good company that helps bring awareness to issues that the society can help solve.  This makes cause marketing a two way street, mutually beneficial to the public and to the company supporting the cause.  Companies involved in this type of marketing strategy not only gain a substantially larger market base but will also be recognized as supportive, conscientious, and “for the people”.  This positive image makes the company more bankable and people will not think twice about supporting its products because they know that part of the sales will go to a good cause. Society will be happy to support companies that use cause marketing because they will feel that they too have been part of responsible way of helping give back to the community.

Is cause marketing and social good possible? Definitely. With cause marketing not only do we bring awareness and extend help to the society but we also build an overall feeling of positivity, of being part of something good, and empowering the general public to partake in making the world a better place.

What are some ways in which your brand or client can incorporate cause marketing?

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