Monday, December 7, 2009

Two Cause Marketing Truths: Transparency & Tangibility

I’ve found myself sharing the same two universal truths a lot lately as I consult on cause marketing: the need for transparency and tangibility.

In addition to new legal requirements, consumers are now demanding extreme transparency on any partnership with a cause or nonprofit for fear of cause-washing. So “portion of proceeds” no longer cuts it. It really needs to be a % or dollar amount. The more specific the better. And if your capping the donation at a predetermined amount then say that. In general there are 3 different cause marketing transactional communication models: 1. “Lump Sum”: In support of nonprofit we’re donating $X as part of our campaign 2. “With Purchase”: During this limited time only $X or %Y of every purchase will go to nonprofit. 3. “Contingency”: Every time a consumer does X we’ll donate $Y to a nonprofit. Of course there’s probably more and these can be combined in various forms for additional models. Which is right depends on the specific program, partners involved, and complexity of other messaging that needs to be shared.

The more tangible you can make the help, you (as the brand or the consumer) is making with their action the better. As cause marketing has appropriately moved from feel-good halos to trackable change results, we must connect the dots on HOW each person’s participation, whether in the form of sponsorship, purchase, advocacy or awareness makes a difference. $5 feeds 2 people for a day. 1 click = 1 book donated. Tangibility empowers the notion of many small things adding up to a very large thing. And preemptively rewards behavior at the critical decision point by answering the looming question within – ”Will this really make a difference?” As a side benefit, these easy to remember explanations become rally cries easy to share in advertising, word of mouth and social media.