Millennials are the same folks championing climate-change activism and volunteering to protect wildlife. This generation wants to reap the intrinsic rewards of doing good deeds. They are a nice bunch, even if you can’t wrap your head around their priorities. What you do need to understand, however, is that if you make this demographic feel like they are having a positive impact by giving you their business, you’re in the home stretch.
There’s actually a strategy called Cause Marketing (sometimes called Worthy Cause Marketing), which appeals to millennials. It actually began in the 1980s but took off with Gen-Xers in the 1990s, who turned Cause-related Marketing into a $120 million dollar industry. By 2017, Cause Marketing became a $2 billion industry and something that even Fortune 500 companies have been heavily participating in for high returns.
Let us tell you more about what Cause Marketing is and how you can use it to your agency’s advantage.
What Is Cause Marketing?
Cause Marketing is an image-branding strategy. Publicizing an effort between a business and a nonprofit to raise money for a cause is what cause marketing ultimately aims to do. Both the nonprofit and the company (insert yours here) can reap the benefits of a partnership. The nonprofit or charity gets financial support, and the company increases sales while creating a perception they want to project to consumers.
More often than not, a company will choose a good cause, like raising money for cancer or for feeding the homeless. The image-affirming partnership with a humane cause is a brilliant way of showing people what matters to a company. It’s one thing to tell people what your core values are, but it’s another to show it!
Cause marketing can work for you too, especially with your younger clients and prospects. With new and successful carriers and agencies doing it, why wouldn’t you try? Case in point:The Lemonade Giveback & Social Good campaign. The start-up insurance company’s mission statement is this: “to transform insurance from a necessary evil into a social good. We use it to pay claims and give what’s left to charities you choose, so we never fight over the same coin.”
In 2019 alone, Lemonade reported $631,540.07 donated to charities of consumer’s choosing. They have garnered lots of press from this innovative move, and they’ve grown steadily with this business model. This is just one example of Worthy Cause Marketing. We certainly are not suggesting that you mimic Lemonade or that you give away your profits, but you see how the company’s brand and mission are aligned with millennials’ interests and sensibilities.
Consider how much of your marketing budget you are willing to give away for a worthy-cause campaign.
Don’t Forget the Power of End Goal: The Good Cause
The first major Cause Marketing campaign was the restoration of the Statue of Liberty with the help and support of American Express (AMEX), who donated a portion of every purchase transacted using its credit card. The Restoration Fund raised more than $1.7 million and AMEX card use went up 27%.
Again, we’re not suggesting that you take your commission and donate it all to the local wind mill, but what if you donated a small portion of your referral-program budget that you’ve allotted to Starbuck’s gift cards? When you do sign on a referral. maybe you can donate to a worthy cause instead. Throw around different ideas with a worthy cause in mind and see what sticks!
Whether you pick the cause or let your clients choose it, Cause Marketing is becoming a popular option, even with bonuses and holiday gifts to and from bosses.
How Can I Make Cause Marketing Work for Me?
Forget about being discreet. If you’re going to use this method as a successful marketing tool the main objective will be to spread the word that you are giving away money to a good cause or to causes of your clients’ choosing. This will require PR efforts, which include writing and distributing a press release when you launch your campaign. Even if it costs you a few hundred dollars, you’ll want to do a major blast with this campaign so that it gets picked up by local press and maybe even some bigger outlets. Think big! Believe in what you’re doing!
You’ll also want to make the nonprofit’s marketing department(s) active in getting the word out about your involvement too. That’s why sometimes it’s better to only donate to one cause, because it’s easier to work with one partner versus an unlimited number of nonprofits. Both models can work, however. One is simply easier to manage.
Another way you can easily manage a Cause Marketing campaign is by sponsoring a charity or nonprofit to hold an event. You’d be in charge of paying for advertising, publicizing the event, signage, public service announcements and promotional materials. You would work directly with the administration department of the nonprofit to make sure the event has a successful turnout. Without people there for you to network with, it’ll be hard to make a case for where your money is going -- aside from the good cause.
You’ll need to make sure you have a pretty squeaky clean profile, especially on social media and any web pages that may pop up with a simple Google search of your company. Nonprofits and charities are hesitant to work with people and companies with a checkered past or bad reputation because it may damage their own reputation.
Also, don’t forget to do your research and make sure you’re getting involved with a reputable organization. What a nightmare it would be to spend your time and resources publicising a huge event only to find out that the organization is fraudulent! Not a great message to send to your consumers who were counting on their dollars going to a good cause.