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Open Standards Cause Marketing

If cause marketing is to really grow, I'm increasingly coming to the opinion that cause marketing needs the equivalent of an ‘open standard.’ When speaking of software especially, the term ‘open standards’ means an agreed-upon convention that is free and unconstrained in how it can be used.

Open standards are enormously valuable to you and me. HTML and XHTML are open standards. PDF is an open standard and CD-ROMs will run in any computer with a CD-ROM drive because of open standards.

That you’re reading this post is because of an open standard called TCP-IP, which is the way website data is divided up into packets, transmitted, and then reassembled by servers somewhere near your computer or phone.

According to the entry on the topic in today’s (August 17, 2009) Wikipedia: Open Standards means “a published specification that is immune to vendor capture at all stages in its life-cycle.” Its more complete definition according to the Digital Standards Organization is:
“The standard is adopted and will be maintained by a not-for-profit organization, and its ongoing development occurs on the basis of an open decision-making procedure available to all interested parties.

The standard has been published and the standard specification document is available freely. It must be permissible to all to copy, distribute, and use it freely.

The patents possibly present on (parts of) the standard are made irrevocably available on a royalty-free basis.

There are no constraints on the re-use of the standard.

A key defining property is that an open standard is immune to vendor capture at all stages in its life-cycle.

Immunity from vendor capture makes it possible to improve upon, trust, and extend an open standard over time.”
What would be the benefits of open standards cause marketing?
  1. It would create a series of cause marketing conventions that anyone could adopt, change and modify.
  2. Because it would be free, it would eliminate some of the transaction costs of cause marketing.
  3. It would make it easy for any sponsor to quickly plan and begin a cause marketing campaign.
  4. It would give charities an easy starting point when approaching prospective sponsors.
What elements might be part of any cause marketing open standards?
  1. Sponsorship contracts.
  2. Maybe a seal of some kind.
  3. General cause marketing approaches.
  4. Standard donation amounts.
What else?

Honestly, my thinking on the subject is a work in progress. I’m not sure I know enough about the all the ins and outs of open standards to give more complete answers right now.

But I am convinced that just as all the big hotel chains in the U.S. profited when they worked together to create open standards for their reservation systems about a decade ago, the development of open standards for cause marketing would benefit all stakeholders involved in cause marketing, including the 'donors,' charities, sponsors and consultants like me.

I hope you’ll weigh in with your own thoughts and ideas.

Comments

Luis Galarza said…
I have to admit, excellent article... I use some cause marketing in my town and the local neighbor cities, and I have a lot of buzz for my consulting business that way.

This can work for almost any type of business as soon you put a plan together using strategies that will get you to your campaign goals!

Without goals is like driving without a destination!

Yours truly,

Luis Galarza
Start-up and Marketing Consultant
http://LuisGalarza.blogspot.com/


.
Hi Luis:

Thanks for the kind words.

As you point out, cause marketing is versatile enough that it can be used in almost in setting.

Now we just need to nail down some of those open standards and make it easy and inexpensive for all parties.

Thanks, again.


Warm regards,
Paul
Brooks said…
Excellent article. Cause marketing, if made free, would open up a lot of doors.
Hi Brooks:

I'm with you.

In the post I used examples mainly from the world of technology. But of course there are many others.

Imagine a world, for instance, in which the distance of railroad carriages was different every time you crossed a border; you'd have to change trains! This is what happens in Switzerland when you start riding the trains that ascend the Swiss Alps... you have to switch trains.

I once submitted an invoice to a European division of large multi-national company and I had to have someone cut down an 8 1/2 x14 piece of paper to A-4, the European standard. What a waste!

In effect, the same waste is happening because we lack open standards in cause marketing.

Thanks for your kind remarks.

Warm regards,
Paul

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