Skip to main content

Some Unsolicited Cause Marketing Advice to Some Friends Planning a Business Conference

I had dinner with some self-described geeks the other night, two of whom are planning a local business conference on the business benefits of blogging. They’ve already lined up speakers and sponsors and are finalizing the arrangements for details like the room and the flyer and other promotional vehicles.

In short, there’s still time to add a cause-related marketing ‘overlay’ to the event.

Here then is an open letter to Jason Alba (Jessica’s cousin!) and Matthew Reinhold (who may be, for all I know, Judge Reinhold's cousin).

Hi Guys:

Thanks for the chance to jaw with you at geek dinner Thursday night. I felt like I got more than I contributed. But my specialty…cause-related marketing… is slightly esoteric even though it represents about 10 percent of the $13 billion sponsorship market.

What is cause-related marketing? Just imagine the lid on a cup of Yoplait yogurt or the box top on a product from General Mills. When you clip that box top and send it in, a dime goes to local schools that you designate.

That’s cause-marketing. It’s generally a tactical promotion, but doesn’t have to be. In both those examples cause-related marketing is a strategic part of how General Mills (which owns the Yoplait brand) does business.

You guys previewed your blogging conference targeted to businesses. I recommend that you add a cause-related marketing component. The simplest way to do that is to give a portion of each paid registration to a cause that your audience has some affinity for (the more affinity the better). Or, if the cause was, say, the food bank, you could offer a discount to people who bring with them a can of food. But there’s a whole lot of other possible iterations.

Why would you want to add a cause marketing component?
  • Academic research and real-world experience demonstrates that cause-related marketing can and does move the sales needle.
  • The right cause can help promote the event. A few might even spring loose their own database list.
  • Increasingly, customers (even in the B2B category) expect it.
  • It gives another hook to promote around in your advertising and public relations.

What cause should you choose?

  • It’s easy to pick one of the big single-disease charities… heart, lung, cancer, breast cancer, diabetes, leukemia and the like… or the local United Way. They have considerable resources to bring to bear and most can offer a fair amount of affinity. For instance, nearly 21 million Americans have type II diabetes.
  • Another approach is to partner with a cause that is a strategic fit with the purpose of the conference.
  • You could also pick a cause for which you guys personally have affinity. If the cause isn’t well-known then make sure you can easily explain the cause’s mission and purpose.

Where do you start?

  • If you want something from the cause (their logo, list, help writing and distributing press releases, etc.) then you’ll need to contact the cause directly. And the sooner the better. It’s a curious fact of life that most charities in the States seem to move at about half speed. One reason; charities rely on consensus, which is often s l o w.
  • But you could certainly donate to a cause without their direct participation. Just make sure you do exactly what you said you’d do in your promotional materials. When the conference is over, send the cause the check.

If it’s a lot of money (and here’s hoping it is) you can expect to hear back from the cause.

Need some suggestions or help? That’s what I’m here for.

Warm regards,

PS Hey Jason, maybe you could put in a good word to Cousin Jessica that she
needs to pose more often in something beside a bikini. I had to go 10 pages deep
in the photo browser to find a picture of her in an actual dress!


Paul, this is really thought-provoking. Thanks for putting it up!

Regarding Jess, anytime I write something to her it doesn't get to her. Could be the e-mail body guard, jealously keeping my notes from her. :(

Popular posts from this blog

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…

Cause-Related Marketing Meets Microfinance and Mix it Up

You’d have had to have been in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia the last year or so to have missed the run up of microfinance. Between 2004 and 2006 more than $4 billion of capital flowed into microfinance institutions. All told experts say the total loan microfinance loan portfolio may be as much as $12.5 billion. And of course the father of microfinance, Muhammad Yunus won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize. Microfinance is now so respectable, so effective, (so profitable!) that it’s already enjoying its first global backlash.

Actually that first sentence is hyperbole. Because even in Ulaanbaatar… far from almost anywhere on the vast, frigid steppes of Mongolia… microfinance is thriving such that the earliest recipients of micro loans there are now complaining about taxes and government bureaucracy! And May 29-31, 2008 the Conference of Microfinance Institutions will convene in Ulaanbaatar, the eleventh such annual conference.
Now Advanta, a credit card issuer to small…

Cause Marketing Beer with BOGO, Brew One Give One

On Monday’s post I touched on the topic of telling people what your cause marketing campaign accomplished when completed. I’ve recommended this approach to clients as a way to keep open the lines of communication with customers and clients and to get extra value from the campaign.

In other words, you’ll want to hold back some of the promotion’s budget to continue to activate the effort until the very end.

But what if that really cuts across the grain in your organization? What if it’s just not in your corporate DNA to do anything but to frontload your cause marketing activation? Well, then, add the report back to the activation of your next cause marketing effort.

New Belgium Brewing of Ft. Collins, Colorado, said to be the seventh largest brewery in the United States, did just that with this ad in Sunset magazine. I found this ad in the Alden Keene Cause Marketing Database.

New Belgium donates $1 for every barrel it brews and sells. It’s a BOGO cause marketing effort, Buy One Give One. …