Does Cause Marketing Scale?

We see evidence of big cause marketing all the time.

You know, cause marketing so massive… like the Red campaign or Boxtops for Education… that it seems to create its own gravity.

Plainly, when properly designed, cause marketing scales up very well, thank you very much.

But what about the little guys? Does cause marketing scale down as well as up?

Here’s why this is an important question. In the States small businesses… generally companies with 500 or fewer employees… represent 99 percent of all businesses that have employees, and over the last 15 years, small businesses have generated 64 percent of all new jobs.

Small business is also really dynamic. Small businesses rise and fail quickly in round after round of Schumpeter-style ‘creative destruction.’

Likewise, most 501(c)(3) nonprofit charities in the United States are small. There’s only one American Red Cross with its $4 billion budget, but at least 1 million smaller charities.

Is cause marketing only for the top one percent of causes and companies?

The ad above comes in a monthly advertising flyer mailed to my home called Hometown Values. Hometown Values is basically 30+ pages of display ads, overwhelmingly for small businesses and franchises.

Can you spot the cause marketing offer? It’s a little hard to see on a page that is so visually busy.

It’s in that quarter-page ad at the top right. A firm called Hung Up for the Holidays, which installs and removes Christmas lights, will donate ‘5% of all proceeds’ to the Utah Food Bank, the state’s largest.

I won’t pick on the company for the ambiguous language of the cause marketing appeal or the tininess of the Utah Food Bank’s logo.

I’m just glad to see a small company in this economy doing its part and using the power of small-scale cause marketing to support a small charity.

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