Skip to main content

Keeping Your Cause-Related Marketing Relationships Fresh

Add to the Bank

It’s fair to say that most marketers are likely to grow tired of their marketing long before their customers do. So after a few meaningful years it’s easy to look at your cause-related marketing relationships and wonder how to get out of them.

In most cases, that’s a mistake. Just as acquiring customers is more expensive than keeping them, so too with your cause-related marketing relationships.

Moreover, unless you’ve spent tens of millions of dollars on your cause-related marketing campaigns for a dozen years, chances are a big chunk of your customers still don’t know about it.

When I was at Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) every person on the staff had at least five anecdotes about individuals who had mistaken CMN for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. This despite the fact that CMN dwarfed Make-A-Wish, got good publicity, was associated with 170 children’s hospitals and 210 TV stations, and had a telethon that aired for 21 hours each year.

I’d bet money that after decades of advertising there is still a substantial minority of people who couldn’t tell you in a test of unaided recall that the Energizer Bunny fronts for Energizer batteries.

The real problem isn't that customers grow tired of your marketing, but that your marketers do. A new VP comes in and, wanting to leave his mark, changes everything. That's dumb.

The other danger is that the relationship between the cause and the sponsors grows stale. It’s just as likely to happen on the charity as the corporate side. Perhaps one party or the other takes the relationship for granted. Maybe less competent account reps take over. Whatever the case, the relationship can certainly sour.

There’s structural things the charity can do like switch around account reps. By nature, that’s probably what the company does. You can make sure that reps are closely supervised.

I would argue that the most important thing is the realization that these relationships can go south and that vigilance is the price of lasting relationships.

I would also argue that you have to treat these relationships like a marriage. Marriages grow stale when the partners quit working on the relationship. Only a fool quits telling his wife she’s beautiful. In the 7 Habits Stephen Covey wrote that business relationships were like marriage and that you need to keep making deposits such that the account balance is greater than the inevitable withdrawals.

What does this mean practically? It means that you have to keep coming up with new ways for the relationship to benefit your partner. Naturally, you need to start with a clear understanding of what it is that your partner wants from the relationship. And, just as in marriage, that’s a moving target.

Agree? Disagree? Weigh in with your opinion now.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Three Ways to Be Charitable

I’ve spent a big chunk of my career working with or for charities. Many of my dearest and ablest friends are in the charity ‘space.’ And the creativity and problem-solving coming out of the nonprofit sector has never been greater.  Although I’ve had numerous nonprofit clients over the last decade or so, I haven’t worked in a charity for about 12 years now, which gives me a certain distance. Distance lends perspective and consequently, I get a lot of people asking me which charities I recommend for donations of money or time. My usual answer is, “it depends.” “On what?” they respond. “On what you want from your charitable activities,” I reply. It sounds like a weaselly consultant kind of an answer, but bear with me for a moment. The English word charity comes from the Latin word caritas and means “from the heart,” implying a voluntary act. Caritas is the same root word for cherish. The Jews come at charity from a different direction. The Hebrew word that is usually rendered as charity is t…

Top Eight Cause-Related Marketing Campaigns of 2007

Yeah, You Read it Right. It's a Top 8 List.

More cause-related marketing campaigns are unveiled every day across the world than I review in a year at the cause-related marketing blog. And, frankly, I don’t see very many campaigns from outside North America. So I won’t pretend that my annual list of the top cause-related marketing campaigns is exhaustive.

But, like any other self-respecting blogger, I won’t let my superficial purview stop me from drawing my own tortured conclusions!

So… cue the drumroll (and the dismissive snickers)… without further ado, here is my list of the eight best cause-related marketing campaigns of 2007.

My list of the worst cause-related marketing campaigns of 2007 follows on Thursday.


Chilis and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
I was delighted by the scope of Chilis’ campaign for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. As you walked in you saw the servers adorned in black co-branded shirts. Other elements included message points on the Chilis beverage coas…

Five Steps To Nurture a 30-Year Cause Marketing Relationship

Last Monday, July 22, 2013, March of Dimes released the annual results of its campaign with Kmart... now in its thirtieth year... and thereby begged the question, what does it takes to have a multi-decade cause marketing relationship between a cause and a sponsor?

In the most recent year, Kmart,the discount retailer, donated $7.4 million to the March of Dimes, bringing the 30-year total to nearly $114 million. March of Dimes works to improve the health of mothers and babies.

Too many cause marketing relationships, in my estimation, resemble speed-dating more than long-term marriage. There can be good reasons for short-term cause marketing relationships. But most causes and sponsors benefit more from long-term marriages than short-term hookups, the main benefit being continuity. Cause marketing trades on the trust that people, usually consumers, put in the cause and the sponsor. The longer the relationship lasts the more trust is evidenced.

There's also a sponsor finding cost that…