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Posted on by Mike

Giving Back Works

I am working with Peter, a client that is planning to launch his new business.  Of course he is focused on success, growth and profitability.  However, his products are specifically designed to be family-friendly and wholesome.  Like many enlightened business people, his business purpose goes beyond dollars and sense.  He frequently expresses dismay regarding our children’s urgency to grow up fast, the cynicism of the world we live in, and the increasing inability to enjoy simple pleasures.

Cause Marketing

Peter has decided to donate a percentage of every purchase to Heifer International www.heifer.org.  Heifer International fights world hunger by using donated funds to supply very poor families with livestock (chickens, cows, goats, etc.) that produce food and sustenance.  Bottom line, Peter has introduced “cause marketing” into his “for profit” model.

Cause marketing is a notion worth considering especially as the year-end holidays like Thanksgiving approach.  It humanizes your business by getting past the dollars and cents to things that matter and make a difference.  It speaks volumes about you and your business.  In pure business terms, it ratchets up your marketing exposure by getting you more known, trusted and liked.  It conveys value that everyone can understand.  It is a good thing to do AND a good thing for business.

Really?  A little research below

91% of global consumers are likely to switch brands to one associated with a good cause, given comparable price and quality. 2013 Cone Communications/ Echo Global CSR Study

50% of global consumers said they would be willing to reward companies that give back to society by paying more for their goods and services (44% in the U.S. and 38% in Canada). Nielsen 2013 Consumers Who Care Study

Purpose is Ever-More Embedded in Purchases – 47% of consumers have bought a brand at least monthly that supports a cause, representing a 47% increase from 2010. Over the years, consumers have taken increased action on behalf of brands with purpose:

–  39 percent increase in “would recommend” cause-related brands
–  34 percent increase in “would promote” cause-related brands
–   9 percent increase in “would switch” brands if a similar brand supported a good cause

Expectations Don’t Align with Performance – While 87% of global consumers believe that business needs to place at least equal weight on society’s interests as on business’ interests, less than a third believe business is performing well in addressing societal issues. Edelman goodpurpose 2012

Is Cause Marketing For You?

The first place to begin is to reflect on the societal benefits of your business.  If you can identify how you can contribute to the society you influence decide to incorporate that notion into your mission statement.  Next step would be to search for a not-for-profit organization that freely supports the sort of contribution you have in mind.  Then contact one or more those organizations to work out a relationship that makes sense.  Be certain to get some acknowledgement for your contributions, which will create a circular benefit that promotes your business and enhances your ability to increase the amount of contributions over time.

MGG Consulting Example

MGG Consulting (MGG) is a specialized consulting firm that brings start-ups to market and helps small business expand their market share and increase profits.  By definition start-ups are the most risky businesses in the country.  The challenge in our market is the 71% failure rate primarily due to an owner or management’s failure to execute on a sustainable plan.

MGG makes an explicit commitment to dramatically reduce that failure rate by avoiding the trial and error approach that so many start-ups embark on.  MGG’s tag line, “Thinking In Advance Is Your Most Valuable Asset” takes every start-up and small business through a thorough and detailed 9-step process that is researched, measured and fact driven.

So where’s the “social cause”? Most new businesses the owner’s believe that “failure is not an option.”  But sadly some still fail.  When they fail, lives and families are negatively affected.  Ugly things like public humiliation, debt or bankruptcy, loss of once close business friends, loss of self esteem and even family breakups are common.  Avoiding these “ugly” affects is a significant “social good”.

So, a not-for-profit organization that educates and supports startups, especially in their pre-revenue or pre-profitability stages, would be an ideal target for MGG’s cause marketing.  These could be universities, chambers of commerce and/or some portion of MGG business activities offered pro bono.  And yes, we are active in all of these places.  Our satisfaction is large and the business benefit is measureable.  Try it.


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