Have you ever felt so strongly about a social justice issue that you wanted to share it on your business page?  Or are you so passionate about a cause that you made a charitable donation on behalf of your business?  These are a couple examples of a rising trend in marketing: cause marketing.  Many companies, both big and small, have jumped on the bandwagon to advocate for social change and support local charities.  But as much as cause marketing can make a positive impact in the world, it can also lead to turmoil for your business if you go about it the wrong way.  As business owners, we need to think twice before we jump on any bandwagon that could negatively affect our businesses.  If we make any rash decisions, we risk having them backfire and resulting in bad PR or loss of business.  When I work with my clients on anything cause marketing-related, a lot of planning goes into creating a carefully crafted message and strategy.

If you’re interested in exploring cause marketing for your business, here are some things you should know before you click that “post” button.

What is cause marketing?

Traditionally speaking, cause marketing is when a business supports a charitable cause or social issue and benefits from its publicity.  A recent example is Gillette’s “The Best Men Can Be” campaign which aimed to support the growing #MeToo movement.  Their video campaign garnered over 31 million views and positive reaction from the public.  The company also pledged to distribute $1 million per year for the next three years to non-profit organizations that support men from all walks of life.

While this is an example of an elaborate and expensive campaign, I’ve also seen businesses take a stance on causes through a single social media post, an image change, or by making subtle changes to their logo and other brand assets.

Is it for you?

On the surface, cause marketing is meant to benefit society and bring about positive change.  But due to the sometimes polarizing nature of the topics associated with these campaigns, there’s bound to be someone who won’t agree with your message.

Take, for example, this cause marketing campaign that was run by a Wal-Mart in the U.S.  While the company thought they were doing something good for the local community, their message wasn’t perceived the same by their local citizens and others online and resulted in bad PR and backlash. 

If you’re considering launching a cause marketing campaign, I recommend you consider these questions:

  1. How important is it to me and my employees to take a public stance on this message?
  2. Am I prepared to handle the potential backlash?
  3. Can my business sustain if there’s any loss of revenue?
  4. Do the actions of our company and its employees represent the message we’re trying to support?

While there’s risk associated with cause marketing, I’ve also seen businesses gain new revenue and customers who supported what they had to say.  For this reason, I recommend involving your employees and even your customers to find out what is near and dear to their hearts.  The more you factor in the interests of others, the less risk you run in receiving backlash for picking a cause that they don’t relate to.

As we continue to fight for social change, you may consider launching a cause marketing campaign now or in the future.  Before you get started, contact CreativeWorks Marketing to help you craft a bulletproof campaign!