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Showing posts from March, 2012

Messaging Your Green Bona Fides

Cone Communications released a new survey on Tuesday, March 27, 2012 about consumer expectations and understanding of corporate green claims, and the results are both a wake-up call and an opportunity for companies messaging their green bona fides.

In the study, called the 2012 Cone Green Gap Trend Tracker, Cone found that consumers just aren’t willing to do their due diligence when it comes to the environmental impacts of a company’s products. Ergo, 73 percent of consumers want companies to provide more environmental information on products directly on the packaging. Another 71 percent wish companies would do a better job helping them understand the environment terms they use.

Some 36 percent believe that common environmental marketing terms like ‘green’ or ‘environmentally friendly’ mean that product has a positive effect on the environment. Another 18 percent believe that such terms mean that the products’ effect on the environment is neutral.

Read Cone’s press materials for more resu…

‘Commander’s Intent’ and Cause Marketing

The military, like your cause, has a sense of mission. Sometimes their mission is very narrowly defined and time-limited. When a squad goes out on patrol at night their mission may be reconnoiter, or intercept. Sometimes the military's mission is very broad and open-ended, like ending another country’s ability to wage asymmetrical warfare.

Given that similarity, causes and sponsors might consider developing an approach to mission that the military uses called ‘commander’s intent.’

According to Wikipedia, it means:
“An intent describing military focused operations and it is a publicly stated description of the end-state as it relates to forces (entities, people) and terrain, the purpose of the operation, and key tasks to accomplish. It is developed by a small group, e.g. staff, and a commander.”It’s not just the purpose and the aim of the action, it’s their implications. Perhaps most importantly, the commander’s intent gives subordinates the basis for their own initiative. As such, i…

Cause Marketing Research I'd Like to See

Scarcely a week goes by that someone doesn’t release a study or survey about cause marketing. And yet there’s still some research I’d like to see.

Since the New Year I’ve seen studies, findings or surveys related to cause marketing from the following:
IEG projects cause marketing spending to grow in 2012 by 3.1 percent to $1.73 billion. Among other findings, the fourth Edelman Good Purpose Consumer Study found that the emerging markets of Mexico, Brazil, China and India were most willing to buy a brand that supports a cause.Landor Associates released its annual Global Corporate Reputation Index and highlighted the cause marketing work of Google and Ford. An outfit called Wide Angle surveyed its consumer panel and found them more willing to give $1 from a purchase rather than winning a meal at restaurant they’ve been wanting to try.Nielsen surveyed Vietnamese consumers and found that 80 percent prefer to do business with companies that seem to be giving back. That’s a reasonably broad mi…

Pepsi Refresh Notwithstanding, Cause Marketing Still Sells the Goods

In a post about Starbuck CEO Howard Schultz at, ‘Jack Flack’ (aka Paul Pendergrass) takes a swipe about the effectiveness of cause marketing that isn’t supported by the facts.

Flack’s post is about the fact that Schultz is at the top of the ‘spin’-cycle right now. The stock is at an all-time high, in Dec 2011 Schultz was named Fortune magazine’s Business Leader of the Year and the CEO has launched some audacious initiatives that aren’t directly about selling coffee.

In September 2011 Schultz pledged that he would stop making donations to incumbent politicians until they demonstrated a credible plan to address the Federal budget deficit. More than 100 other CEOs also pledged to withhold political donations from incumbents. Later in the year Starbucks unveiled its ‘Indivisible’ wristband effort, which generates loanable funds to small businesses nationwide. I’ve covered both issues here and here.

Schultz, says Flack, is a flavor of the month. I don’t disagree. Unless Schult…

One Idea For Cause Marketing That Works for Small Business

Last Thursday, March 22, 2012 I took a call from a small businessperson I called Roberta who asked in effect, ‘how can my small company work with a cause to benefit us both?’ I posted about her call last Friday.

She had contacted two breast cancer charities about cause marketing; a local one I called Athena Charity and a national one I identified as Artemis Charity. (All the names have been changed). Athena put Roberta off and Artemis tried to lock her into an existing event for a cool $5,000. In my post on Friday, I compared Artemis Charity’s offerings to those from a local TV station, which are similarly high-priced and inflexible.

Neither option was well-suited to a small business like Roberta’s. Roberta has a generous impulse and she wants to help, but her ability to do so is severely limited by the size of her business. Moreover, Roberta was interested in cause marketing, in part, because she needed something more from the relationship besides good feelings.

Imagine instead a cause …

Small Business Cause Marketing That Actually Works for Small Businesses

Yesterday I took a call from a small business owner in Chicago… I’ll call her ‘Roberta’… who wanted to know how cause marketing really worked because it wasn’t working so far for her!

Roberta owns a picture framing business and what she meant was that she had made several inquiries at two breast cancer charities. One was smaller and local the other was larger and national. We’ll call the local one Athena Charity and the national one Artemis Charity. (All the names have been changed to protect everyone’s privacy).

What Roberta had in mind for Athena Charity was some kind of promotion on the organization’s Facebook page. But the people at Athena said that might jeopardize their 501(c)(3) status.

Two things: 1). Roberta has no desire to endanger Athena’s 501(c)(3) status. 2). Either the Athena staffers didn’t know what they were talking about or they were just trying to put Roberta off. Because you really have to work at it to make cause marketing illegal.

Meanwhile, Artemis Charity wanted $…

Utah, A Capital of Cause Marketing

My old friend, author Joe Waters, outed me yesterday in his post at As he pointed out I live and work in Utah, one of the least populated states in the Union.

How small? We have three Congressional districts in the whole state. Metropolitan Boston, where Joe lives, has five by itself.

So how is it possible that Utah could be, as my headline puts it, a capital of cause marketing?

Before I answer that directly, let me first describe some cause marketers who started in Utah. Jay Vestal, now a VP at the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and formerly at both the National Forest Foundation and the National Park Foundation lives and works in Utah.

Also in Utah is Jay Aldous, formerly of UNICEF. Jay’s now independent and his clients have included the Red Cross, Special Olympics, Habitat for Humanity and other blue chip nonprofits.

The two Jays did more to further cause marketing in the very earliest days than anyone else I can think of short of Carol Cone. To paraphrase Newton, …

Cause Marketing That Still Cooks

Over the course of the last 11 years KitchenAid’s Cook for the Cure campaign has raised more than $8 million for Susan G. Komen for the Cure. But don’t pay attention to the dollars raised. No, look at the 11 years they’ve been together. In cause marketing years that’s like 22 years.

What’s an 11-year cause marketing relationship like?

You know those really cute images from the movie The Notebook? The movie posters depicted Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling bussing in the rain. But the more evocative parts of the movie, by far, are those of James Garner reading to his invalid wife, played by Gena Rowlands. Young love is cute. But old love is admirable.

With KitchenAid and Komen the kids have come and gone. They’ve had disagreements and tense moments. But both parties are long past that euphoric ‘in-love’ phase and are now in a more mature part of their relationship. The real part.

They’ve also gotten past that stage that some old couples fall into where they face each other across a restaura…

Cause Marketing To Teens With Time on Their Hands

If you have a generous heart and more spare time than money is a way for you to monetize your expertise on behalf of a favored charity, $5 at a time.

Here’s how it works: you post a small service or task you are willing to perform for $5. These are services provided online or over the phone. So no babysitting services or (yuck!) ‘massages.’ (The video at the left is their appeal for your vote in Virgin Unite's 'Screw Business as Usual,' promotion.)

‘Mike’ offers to teach you five phrases in Mandarin, for instance. ‘Autumn’ will pray on your behalf and sing a song. ‘Kaleigh’ will edit your blog post.

$4 of the total goes to the charity of choice for the service provider, peels off $1 for itself. In turn, the website says, $0.45 of that $1 goes to PayPal. The rest goes to operations and costs. I hope that doesn’t sound critical because I truly don’t begrudge them the $1.

It’s crowdsourcing but it ain’t exactly Amazon's Mechanical Turk, where each of the…

Joint-Issue Promotion in Cause Marketing

Usually I highlight transactional-style cause marketing in this space, but there are other possible relationships including ‘joint-issue promotion,’ a category suggested by Wymer and Sumu in their book Nonprofit and Business Sector Collaboration.

By that they mean a sponsor promoting various aspects of a cause outreach effort or mission. It’s especially common among health charities and pharmaceutical companies.

After all, Pfizer, which makes the best-selling drug Lipitor, may well have a vested interest in outreach efforts from American Heart Association meant to lower cholesterol.

At left are two examples of cause marketing based on joint-issue promotion.

Camelbak has a cool new water bottle that features a UV light in the cap. Fill the bottle with water, press the button and in a minute the UV light kills the bacteria, viruses and protozoa in the water.

It goes without saying, I suppose, that if you put muddy water in the bottle the UV light doesn’t do anything about eliminating any sil…

The Holy Trinity of Corporate Social Responsibility

Some things go better together in threes; a cheeseburger, fries and a Coke, for instance. Or, Crosby, Stills and Nash. Or, Athos, Porthos and Aramis. Or, Groucho, Chico and Harpo. Or, Newton’s Laws of Motion. Or, faith, hope and charity.

It’s becoming increasingly clear to me that companies which face the consumer better do three things well: practice corporate social responsibility; have a strong green tint; and, engage in cause marketing.

Time was when companies could pick one of the three and be fine. But the corporate environment has changed.

Now companies like Starbucks have altered consumer expectations and demands of what corporate social responsibility means. Starbucks pays its employees fairly and offers benefits. It sells fair-trade coffee to benefit its farmer-suppliers. It works to lower its environmental footprint. And it does smart cause marketing.

Like no other large company, Starbucks practices the Holy Trinity of corporate social responsibility.

Starbucks, along with Coke,…

How Fast is Your Cause Marketing Muse?

We call it a flash of genius or sudden inspiration. But does inspiration come fast or slow?

Beethoven’s notebooks demonstrate that he spent months reworking single musical phrases and measures. We have hundreds of Picasso’s interim drawings of ‘Guernica’ and some 50 studies (that's one of them on the left). All of which demonstrate the development of his approach as he painted his anti-fascism masterwork now hanging in the Museo Reina Sofía in Madrid.

Contrast that with a 50-something friend… very creative… who for more than 25 years has specialized in corporate events. He’s won every award available to people in his field and the appreciation and respect of dozens upon dozens of clients nationwide.

His muse, he says, really does prompt great ideas that come to him in minutes rather than days or months or years. Not all his immediate ideas are great, of course. But after 25 years, he knows the difference between the good ideas and the stinkers.

The challenge and the work for him isn’t…

Join the Newsgroup, Get a Cause Marketing Tool You Can Use Today

Kind Readers:

Heather D. from Columbus, Ohio is the latest to join the Cause Marketing Google Newsgroup.

It couldn’t be easier to subscribe. Simply send me your name and your email address to aldenkeene at gmail dot com.

When you subscribe each new post comes directly to your email, usually every business day.

And like Heather, when you subscribe you'll get a PDF copy of the "Five Flavors of Cause Marketing" a matrix which explains the elements of Cause Marketing and includes specific examples.

It's a great brainstorming tool that helps ensure your cause marketing campaigns have all the appropriate components.

Did I mention that all this cause marketing goodness is free?

Finally, rest assured that I will never sell your name or contact information.

So join today.

Warm regards,

Aldenkeene at gmail dot com

Cause Marketing is at the Foundation of Modern Grocery Retailing

I write this post from my home office in my basement, which is heated, well-lit and comfortable. The floor beneath my feet is carpeted. Had the basement lacked any of these features, we probably wouldn’t have bought this house. Such amenities are assumed.

But as a college student I lived in one of those classic ‘pit’ kinds of apartments. The house was about 100 years old back then and the foundation was made of rock rather than concrete. The basement floor in that old house was compacted dirt.

Increasingly cause marketing is assumed as well for companies that face the consumer, notably grocers. This was made clear in several questions the asked its 1800-member consumer panel about cause marketing.

‘Guru’ asked four cause marketing questions in addition to its other questions:
Were consumers more likely to shop in a supermarket that supports causes?Would consumers be tolerant of price increases that allow for donations?Were consumers likely to travel further to shop in …

Bleeding-Edge Cause Marketing

Help, a company that sells single-symptom remedies to things like headaches and cuts, has teamed up with DKMS Bone Marrow Donor Center to deliver a wonderfully-integrated cause marketing campaign at the bleeding-edge of innovation.

When you buy a package of Help’s brand of adhesive bandages called ‘Help I’ve Cut Myself & I Want to Save a Life’ you get their regular 16 bandages in two sizes. But you also get a kit to collect some of the blood that you’ve just spilt and register with the nonprofit’s bone marrow donor registry. Besides the bandages there are instructions, permissions, and the like.

Help’s remedies are available at most Target and Walgreens stores, and elsewhere.

Registering for such databases is a simple matter of giving a blood sample. But unless your consciousness has been raised to the need for bone marrow donors… probably due to personal experience… chances you haven’t made the effort to do so. Heaven knows I haven’t

But ‘Help I’ve Cut Myself & I Want to Save a L…

The Innie vs The Outie in Cause Marketing

Is cause marketing better on the inside or outside of packaging? That’s what I wondered when I saw this chocolate bar at Whole Foods.

In an aisle of chocolate bars that were $6, $7, $8 and even $9, I bought the Whole Foods candy bar based mostly on price; it was less than $3. It was organic, dark chocolate and had almonds, three hot buttons for me. When I unwrapped it I found the cause marketing message you see below

My first reaction was, “why wouldn’t they at least tease the donation to the Whole Foods Foundation on the outside of the wrapper?”

You'd assume that Whole Foods wants to maximize sales. And given the likelihood that their margins are higher on a $3 house brand than a super-premium bar like Amano or Vosges, you gotta believe they’d rather sell three of these candy bars than one $9 Vosges with bacon, right?

But the more I thought about it the plainer it became to me that Whole Foods really does know how to cause market.

In their book ‘Yes!: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to …

Add the Word 'No' To Your Cause Marketing Toolkit

Every business day in this blog I chronicle the best and worst of cause marketing. As you seek inspiration for where to take your own cause marketing you must eschew the bad. But you must also learn how to refuse the good.

I was reminded of this by an anecdote about Steve Jobs in a book I’ve been reading called ‘The Idea Hunter,’ by Andy Boynton and Bill Fischer. They tell about how Jobs was speaking to a group of executives at Yahoo when the subject of saying no to bad ideas came up.

“That’s easy,” said Jobs. “The challenge is in saying no to good ideas.”

Jobs came back to this theme more than once and in one instance was quoted thusly:
“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully.” Anyone with a modicum of judgment knows the stinkers. But it’s the good ideas that require real expertise to deal with. That’s because if you let the…

Cause Marketing National Breakfast Week and Other Observances

This week is 'National Breakfast Week,' sponsored in part, as we shall see, by Kellogg’s.

Why should we care? Because “1 in 5 children live in homes where breakfast is hard to come by.”

What should we do? “Share Your Breakfast” on Kellogg’s corporate site or their Facebook page by saying what you had for breakfast this morning. I had a yogurt and oatmeal, so I entered that into the appropriate box. I was then invited to share that via Facebook or an email that included the following message:
Help kids in need get off to their best starts. Share what you had for breakfast and Kellogg's will help provide a breakfast for a child in need. What happens? Kellogg’s donates one school breakfast, up to one million meals, each time you 'Share Your Breakfast.' Basically, Kellogg’s writes a check for up to $200,000.

Kellogg’s cause partner is Action for Healthy Kids, a consortium of 70 or so organizations like the Whole Grains Council, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the US…

Study Links NFL Sponsorship and Purchasing Decisions. Does it apply to Cause Marketing?

A study from Kirk Wakefield, Ph.D. of Baylor University released Monday finds strong linkage between official NFL sponsors and purchase decisions, especially among fans.

Called “The Effect of Fan Passion and Official League Sponsorship on Brand Metrics: A Longitudinal Study of Official NFL Sponsors and ROO,” the study was co-authored by Anne Rivers of the New York City firm Brand Asset Consulting.

The study compared official NFL sponsors to non-official sponsors in banking, beer, credit cards, pizza and telecommunications over the three year period between 2008 and 2010. Then they measured public opinion of the official brand in each category against 2 competing brands in the same category that weren’t official sponsors. So in the pizza category Papa John’s, the official sponsor, was measured against two non-official sponsors; Pizza Hut and Domino’s.

Says Professor Wakefield, “Companies with official sponsorship of the NFL receive a significant lift among NFL fans compared to non-fans.”


Cause Marketing From the Mouths of Kids

Last Friday I was a judge at my State’s DECA convention and a student suggested a way to track customer service that has real potential as a cause marketing overlay.

The case study that was given to the students I judged had to do with a chain of electronics superstores. In it the staff product knowledge was very high. Nonetheless, customer satisfaction was low because shoppers said they felt pressured to buy more than they needed or wanted.

DECA is a career and technical student organization for high school and college-aged young people. The organization hosts student competitions to help them improve their business acumen.

Almost all the kids I saw suggested more training for employees and so I pressed them a little. How would the company know if the training were paying off right now?

Almost all the kids I asked that question of suggested some kind of survey, but they were generally vague about how to conduct that it in a timely and effective fashion. Fair enough. I was asking high sch…

March Madness Cause Marketing

It’s conference tournament time in college basketball in the lead-up to March Madness, the best sporting event in America other than the Super Bowl. Soon the NCAA Tournament seedings will be announced and brackets will start rolling off of office printers nationwide.

In homage to the Madness, here’s a cause marketing promotion you could run next year in conjunction with the Tournament. It features local celebrities, a sweepstakes component, and numerous possible extensions.

Here’s how it could work: local celebrities are pitted against each other in something like a NCAA Tournament bracket. Then people vote on who they’d like to see advance based on the parings on Facebook or at the website. If there’s no seedings, it’s basically a straight popularity contest. The person who picks the most brackets correctly wins a cool prize; perhaps tickets to March Madness.

Local businesses are the sponsors of the brackets. In addition to selling the brackets, you’ll need to get permission in your mar…

Cause Marketing for Volunteers

Money is portable, and useful…the preferred method for payment worldwide. The precise word for the advantages of money that I’m describing is ‘fungible;’ that is, freely exchangeable and replaceable. Not surprisingly, therefore, money is what most cause marketers strive to raise.

But savvy causes and their sponsors should also be thinking about using cause marketing to ‘raise’ volunteers, too.

But why? Volunteers aren’t fungible at all. You have to manage and train and inspire them. Volunteers require that systems be put in place to channel their efforts. They have to have places to park their car, places to work, and places to put their things when they’re working. They create insurance and legal liabilities. They may not volunteer for long, so continuity is a challenge. And, of course, they may be less competent and accountable than people you could hire to do the same job.

To make my case for cause marketing to generate volunteers, I’m going to use a contra-example which happens to be…