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Cause Marketing: Why It’s Important and How You Can Take Part

People inherently like to help others. It makes us feel good and gives us a sense of purpose. What if you could expand that feeling of helping others into a marketing plan for your business? This is called cause marketing.

“Cause Marketing or cause-related marketing refers to a type of marketing involving the cooperative efforts of a for-profit business and a non-profit organization for mutual benefit.”
No matter what company you are a part of, you can incorporate cause marketing into your marketing strategy. A simple way to achieve this is through the use of events or even pop-up stores.

Take, for example, the Pinky Swear Pop-up Show in the Mall of America. The Pinky Swear Foundation has a mission to help kids with cancer and their families with financial and emotional support. They achieve this by raising awareness of pediatric cancer, raising money for the children affected, and partner with like-minded organizations, like Love Your Melon, to spread their mission. For the second year in a row, Pinky Swear will host a Pop-up Shop made from products provided by Skyline Exhibits, with the goal of selling Love Your Melon beanie hats and gathering donations for the children and families they sponsor.

Pinky Swear has a long partnership relationship with Mall of America. The pop up is a special space and an extension of that partnership offered to Pinky Swear through Mall of America’s community relations team and is prime real estate during the busy Holiday shopping season with foot traffic in the millions.

“As a non-profit, Pinky Swear relies on special events to build brand awareness and create memorable experiences that build our name and reputation in the market, and to raise money for our mission,” says Jenny Peters, Director of Marketing at Pinky Swear Foundation. “Our goal is to be the top-of-mind brand related to childhood cancer, so families turn to us first when they need help.”

The story behind the original Pinky Swear promise lends itself to the conversation and is one you can’t forget once you hear it. Events allow different constituents to come together and rally around the brand, from staff, to volunteers, to kids to shoppers, in this instance.
Why does Cause Marketing matter to you as a Marketer?
Your customer cares about helping others. 72% of consumers have donated to charity at the register, and 65% of consumers felt positive about the company after giving. (Catalist’s Revelations at the Register.)
Associating your company with a like-minded non-profit business that helps others shows your customers that you care about a cause, and are willing to spend time and money as a business to be a part of it.
Furthermore, a whopping 91% of millennials would switch brands to one associated with a cause (Cone Communications Millennial CSR Study) There is a huge opportunity to make it know that your company cares about helping others, and other businesses, by mutual marketing through cause marketing.

Pinky Swear’s partners are driven to support the mission and give back to their communities, but they also receive valuable assets in return – like placement at the nation’s largest shopping destination in November and December, and exposure to new audiences.
What can we learn from Cause Marketing?
Before you jump into a new world of cause marketing initiatives, there are a few important things to keep in mind that will impact how successful you are.

  •  Choose a company that aligns with your brand.
    • The Core Purpose of Skyline Exhibits is to Help. The World. Trade. Partnering with Pinky Swear to provide the products they will use during their pop-up shop is mutually beneficial to both Skyline Exhibits & The Pinky Swear Foundation. A need for portable, lightweight yet vivid graphic structures helps Pinky Swear achieve their goal of increasing awareness of their mission and the importance of supporting kids with cancer and their families.
    • Pinky Swear resources are quite limited compared to a regular retailer or private company, so they rely heavily on like-minded companies to help amplify their events. Jenny shared: “We create our partnerships to ensure a mutually beneficial relationship, and help support their business goals as well. When they win, we win, too – and more kids with cancer can be supported.”
  • Identify a Specific Time Period.
    • This is especially important for Pop-Up shops or smaller events. Choose a time frame for your event and make the event known through pre-event marketing. Using the social channels of both companies increases the reach of your message.
  • Don’t partner with too many organizations.
    • You may want to help each non-profit out there, but that may not bring you the most awareness for your business and the non-profit. If you partner and market with multiple non-profit organizations, which support a range of causes, your customer may not understand why or how you are connected to all of these causes. Don’t dilute your effort.
      Cause marketing is a great way to help a non-profit organization that shares the same values your company holds.
    • The partnership between Love Your Melon and Pinky Swear, for example, was founded in early 2015, when Love Your Melon chose two major giving partners to work with – Pinky Swear and CureSearch. While CureSearch is more long-term research based, Pinky Swear helps families with kids with cancer and their families now, when they need it most. Both companies receive a portion of the net proceeds of product sales. The partnership has grown as Love Your Melon’s business evolved. They were able to help share stories of how their contributions help kids with cancer, and their campus crews personally met All-Stars beneficiaries for special experiences that create emotional support all across the country.

Has your company recently partnered with a non-profit for a mutual cause? We’d love to hear your stories in the comments below.


About the Author

Kayla was a Senior Marketing Associate at Skyline Exhibits, based at Skyline's International Design Center in St. Paul, Minnesota.

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