From Cause to Collaboration (4 Rules for Brands),
I was recently asked to contribute some basic “rules of the road” for brands looking to leverage a socially conscious agenda (check out this iMedia article to see what I and others had to say). With new business models like conscious capitalism and social entrepreneurship creating exciting opportunities for cross-sector partnerships, the “cause marketing” framework may soon be a thing of the past. Perhaps the more relevant question for marketers might be: How should brands evaluate opportunities to collaborate?
Rule 1: Be Real. Whatever the cause that a company wants to help with, it needs to be something they would do if no one heard about it. If the cause isn’t part of the company’s DNA (and well aligned with its purpose) then the company should not make a marketing campaign out of its support.
Rule 2: Be Relevant. What is the company good at? Use that skill to advance a relevant cause.
Rule 3: Crowdsource Your Cause. Who better to help guide the company’s involvement than the people who work for it and/or the people who buy from it? The role of the company is to provide the framework and support.
Rule 4: Make Your Cause Your Partner. Too often, companies want to have a one-way relationship with a cause: we (the company) will provide support and you (the cause) provide accolades. Your cause partner is more than a “good works merit badge.” They are intelligent, well-intentioned people who should have a seat at the marketing table.
Jonathan Feinstein also contributed to this post.