How To Use Cause Marketing To Create Meaningful Social Change

Cause marketing aims to boost brand recognition as well as public awareness of important issues, but many campaigns miss the mark. Here’s how to ensure yours doesn’t.

More than two-thirds of Americans agree that companies have a responsibility to confront issues of social justice, according to a recent 2020 report from Porter Novelli. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that many corporations are teaming up with nonprofits in a ceaseless stream of cause marketing campaigns. Inspired by societally pervasive issues, cause marketing aims to raise awareness about dilemmas confronting our society from disease to disenfranchisement, while simultaneously boosting brand recognition for participating companies and organizations.

Cause marketing is a tricky tactic to implement given its close association with social and environmental problems that often concern us as much as they divide us. However, it can be successfully executed in such a way that public awareness of an important issue is raised, and as a result, businesses and nonprofits can reap the benefits that follow.

In this resource from AWAKEN PR, we’ll address the elements of a meaningful and effective cause marketing campaign. We’ll give you the information necessary to ensure that the brand awareness efforts of your company or nonprofit are primed for maximum positive impact — for your audience, for your cause, and for your benefit too.

Understanding Cause Marketing

Before delving into best practices for campaign strategy, it’s worth clarifying the nature of cause marketing and how it differs from other audience engagement tactics. Cause marketing, at its most fundamental level, involves the partnership of a for-profit company and a nonprofit organization, such as a charity or an activist group, and combining their marketing efforts with the intent to raise awareness about a certain cause while simultaneously bolstering the success of the for-profit company.

Whether a philanthropic group seeks further financial support from donors, or a business is hoping to fortify its revenue stream with a values-driven approach, there is no shortage of pertinent issues to serve as a catalyst for a cause marketing campaign.

Topics for which a cause marketing campaign may strive to increase awareness include:

  • Environmental Protection & Climate Change

  • Healthcare, Public Health and Disease Research Funding

  • Domestic Abuse Prevention

  • Animal Rights

  • Celebrating Diversity

  • Women’s Rights

  • Ending Police Brutality

  • Mental Health

  • Reframing Toxic Stereotypes

  • Racial Equality

  • And many others

Engage With Your Audience

The first step to any successful marketing campaign, whether cause-driven or alternatively motivated, is to effectively engage and interact with your target audience. Your key public doesn’t necessarily have to have a pre-established passion for your campaign cause. This has been proven by past efforts from companies such as Starbucks, which raised AIDS awareness and amassed more than $14 million through its (STARBUCKS)RED campaign. Tactics like these work by initially uniting people through a shared interest (coffee) and then calling this same group to use their daily expenses on java to contribute to a social justice issue.

The best tactics today for engaging with large audiences and driving attention to your cause marketing efforts are found in the digital sphere. In particular, placement of promotional materials on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram can have a far greater impact than email or website optimization alone, especially when paired with original video content.

If you’re seeking a cause that people are already discussing and more likely to feel passionate about, keep track of what’s trending in hashtag lineups, news headlines, and popular YouTube videos. Pair this strategy with regular assessment of your search engine and platform-specific analytics, from your highest-ranking web pages on Google to your average number of impressions per post on Instagram.

Align Your Brand With Where You Stand

If your existing brand values don’t align with the ostensible mission of your cause marketing campaign, you likely won’t see positive results. Ideally, you’ll want to build your entire organization on principles generally deemed morally acceptable, but this may be difficult to do and even harder to maintain. Fortunately, a combination of diligent reputation management and strategic representation can allow virtually any company or nonprofit entity to brand themselves in such a way that their mission and marketing tactics become seamlessly integrated.

Start by adding content to your website and social media pages that makes your values evident, whether your business supports reducing environmentally harmful carbon emissions, combating the spread of COVID-19, or taking a stand against racial discrimination and injustice. Once you’ve identified and established your cause, it will be much easier to find and partner with a like-minded nonprofit whose cause marketing objectives advantageously align with your own.

Continue the Conversation

Even if your cause marketing campaign has a set timeline, that doesn’t mean your efforts to engage with relevant audiences and establish a values-driven mission should fall by the wayside. Instead of thinking about cause marketing as a one-and-done tactic, consider it an ongoing and dynamic strategy that evolves with your organization as well as the patrons and clients with which it communicates.

Cause marketing exists in large part because many issues plaguing our society cannot be permanently or adequately solved. Climate change has caused irreparable harm to our planet, but steps towards a greener future are still made daily. Poverty and disease may never completely be eradicated, but nevertheless millions of people work in industries and organizations that strive to mitigate their detrimental effects.

When you have a vision, a purpose, and a meaningful cause, you’ve got a potentially great marketing campaign on your hands. All that’s left to do is take the first step to making that vision a reality. Contact AWAKEN PR today to learn more about our work with nonprofits and strategic cause marketing solutions.