Burlington, VT (PRWEB) December 26, 2013
For small and medium size businesses looking to shine a positive light on their endeavors in the new year, cause-related marketing is an important way to help build long-lasting and profitable connections with customers, while making a difference in their communities.
Cone Echo’s 2013 Corporate Social Responsibility study revealed that 94% of consumers prefer to do business with companies that give back in some way but only 16% believe that businesses have actually made a positive impact. Moreover, over half of all consumers (55%) have switched brands in favor of ones that they believed to be more socially responsible. The impact is even greater when one considers that when people switch brands, they tend to bring some friends and family along with them.
These data underscore the opportunity that effective cause marketing presents as well as the risks of doing nothing. Businesses can either be the beneficiaries, or the victims, of these shifts in loyalty. Developing an ongoing cause marketing program is essential for businesses that want to appeal to the growing ranks of ‘conscientious consumers,’ but finding the right way to do so isn’t always clear.
Frequently used cause marketing approaches include 1) Sales-dependent donations in which businesses donate a portion of sales proceeds, and 2) Donation drives which involve the solicitation of customer donations at the checkout counter. However, both bring with them a host of legal and administrative obstacles and have the potential to backfire in terms of consumer sentiment.
Regardless of the approach, success will depend greatly on the degree to which a program reverberates with the public. There are many factors that have been found to increase consumer interest and participation. Below, Jay Ziskrout, Founder and CEO of Charitable Checkout, the online cause-marketing platform, offers a few tips for businesses that want to support worthwhile causes while maximizing ROI.
1. Choosing the Right Causes
In order to capture positive attention from consumers, it’s important to select the right causes to support. Research shows that the more the business and charities seem to fit together, the more the public perceives that the company has the expertise to effectively help the charity. This increases consumer interest in getting involved while clarifying the company’s market positioning. For this reason, pairings of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters with Fair Trade charities or HGTV with Rebuilding Together, make perfect sense and work. As a business manager, you should take the time to look for non-profits that align well with your company’s ethos and mission. Another consideration is consumer choice. When people are afforded the opportunity to direct funds to a charity of their choice, their perceived control over the donation process is increased which results in higher participation rates. For this reason, it’s a good idea to select a short list of properly aligned charities and then allow customers to make their own decisions. A great example of this approach is Subaru’s annual “Share The Love” event, which enables car buyers to select from five charities.
Sometimes, in the wake of a natural disaster or other tragedy, the choice is easy. Still, there are over 1.5 million 501(c)3 non-profits in the United States and, even with the above advice in mind, making a decision can be difficult. Fortunately, there are some great online tools such as GuideStar and CharityNavigator that can help you identify your short list.
2. Use Social Media to Tell Your Story, But Not to Brag
Get the word out about your cause-related efforts in your advertising, newsletters and in-store signage. Make sure to share what you’re doing on your business’s website and social media channels and encourage the non-profits you’re working with to do the same. Although it’s important to generate awareness of what you’re doing, it’s best to refrain from overt shameless self-promotion. A great way to accomplish this is to use social media to show your appreciation for your customers that participate. A simple ‘thank you’ goes a long way and in the social media age, a huge customer segment prefers to get kudos in full view of friends and family. By publicly thanking every participant, rather than bragging, you get an exponentially better uptick in consumer sentiment.
3. Reward Participating Customers
A ‘thank you’ is great, but if you’re asking your customers to make a donation, the secret sauce is in putting some ‘skin in the game’ and going beyond mere words. There are many ways to reward your customers that reflect well on your company. Here are a few ideas:
- Donation Matching: People respond better when the business offers to match donations because it creates the sense that ‘we’re all in this together,’ which is highly motivating.
- Redeemable Rewards: Instead of forcing people to purchase a product to unlock a donation, how about focusing on the cause first and reward donors after they give? Businesses can promote a cause by offering their product or service (or a discount on it) as a reward for doing the right thing. As an example, Shake Shack offers a free shake to customers who make donations. At Charitable Checkout, we have found that nearly 13% of donors redeem their coupon rewards, a great example of measurable ROI.
- Unlock Exclusive Content: A digital download of exclusive content for donors is a great tool to positively reinforce your business’s brand and the overall campaign, at a low marginal cost. Examples include music downloads, videos, images, documents, apps, etc.
4. Resolve to Make a Difference in 2014
Charitable Checkout’s ‘Rewarded Giving’ cause-marketing platform embodies these principles and enables businesses to measurably and profitably connect with consumers around shared values. We make it easy for businesses of all sizes to create campaigns that benefit whatever charities they happen to support while enhancing their corporate image and driving customer retention, acquisition, and sales. When consumers give to a business-endorsed cause using Charitable Checkout, they automatically receive redeemable rewards like coupons, and are thanked publicly via social media. Moreover, all the financial and regulatory functions are seamlessly handled in the background by the platform.
Charitable Checkout never touches your customer’s donations and a Basic Subscription costs just $9.99 per month. To learn more and sign up for your 15-day free-trial, go to: http://get.charitablecheckout.com.