Cause Marketing for Smaller Causes and Businesses

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 United 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 simple answer is no.

Above is a flyer with a coupon from Coit cleaning in Louisville, Kentucky and benefiting Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Coit’s local operator in Louisville will match your $1 donation to Komen. Engage their service on a Tuesday and they’ll offer you $10 bounceback coupon.

In my market the local public transit operator, called UTA, in August 2011 launched two new light rail lines that included a cause marketing element for the Utah Food Bank, the state’s largest. Bring a can of food for the Food Bank and you could ride for free on the day on August 3, four days before regular operations commenced.

UTA isn’t tiny and neither is Komen. But Coit and the Utah Food Bank are small. These campaigns evidence that cause marketing isn’t just for the gigantic cause or company.

Hats off to Kate B. for the ad from Louisville.