I was at a networking meeting a few years ago, chatting and drinking coffee, when a woman hollered across the room, “Hey, Buckets & Bows Maid Service! I was just telling my neighbor about you.” I walked over, shook the woman’s hand and asked if we’d met before. “No,” she answered, “but I love your work with cancer patients!” Talk about front-of-mind-awareness! This woman had never even used my cleaning service, but here she was telling her neighbor about my company.
Cause marketing gets credit for that exchange, and for the many others like it that have followed. No company can pay for that level of veneration. No marketing or advertising budget – no matter how large – can create that type of customer enthusiasm. This kind of passionate, word-of-mouth recognition is the result of cause marketing.
Social Responsibility + Marketing
Cause marketing is the integration of social responsibility and marketing. Perhaps you’ve heard of the wildly successful national brand Toms. This company promises to donate a pair of shoes for every pair purchased. Cause marketing is at the very heart of the popular Toms brand. Among small locally-owned companies, however, cause marketing is a relatively new phenomenon. Smaller businesses typically promote heavily through traditional marketing and advertising channels such as email. This is a missed opportunity.
Cause marketing is one of the most affordable and effective ways to create and spread awareness of your brand and services. People don’t buy from strangers; they buy from those they know, like and trust. One powerful way for prospects and customers to “know and like” your business is to practice cause marketing. Do authentic good, and don’t let that good go unnoticed. Institute a solid “give-back” program that inspires you, your employees and customers. The Cleaning For A Reason foundation, which I founded to support women with cancer, is just one example of how businesses can incorporate a desire to make a difference into a smart branding and marketing strategy. What cause are you passionate about? Don’t be afraid to give your services away to those in need. It won’t break the bank if you take a level-headed approach.
A Powerful Marketing Channel
Once you have your plan in place, free publicity and community awareness will become an effective new marketing channel for your company. When leveraged with advertising, cause marketing can establish your leadership in the marketplace. A newsworthy program will get noticed by the media, especially if you are affiliated with a reputable nonprofit.
Our program is now so well known that we’re interviewed and profiled regularly. Last Saturday, I was flipping through the local paper and stumbled upon an article about my company. It was completely unsolicited, a pleasant surprise, and a perfect example of cause marketing at work. Before you send that next email blast, consider cause marketing. Doing good can do your business good, too.
Debbie Sardone is a cleaning business consultant and founder of the nonprofit Cleaning For A Reason. She owns a large maid service and works with small business owners to grow and improve their service. Click here for more information.