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Cause Marketing Around Rallying Points

The first weekend after Memorial Day is the annual Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Telethon. Like Go Red for Women from the American Heart Association or Thanks + Giving from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the Telethon serves as rallying point; a kind of concourse for sponsors, supporters and beneficiaries alike assemble and to wrap their cause marketing around.

At left is a simple Telethon sponsorship activation from Ameriprise that appeared in the May 2012 edition of Costco Connection magazine. Costco is one of Children’s Miracle Network Hospital’s largest sponsors.

These rallying points are a common feature of the very largest, most prominent cause marketers; Breast Cancer Awareness Month, American Heart Month, Hunger Action Month, the various walks and runs and races from the likes of the March of Dimes, the Multiple Sclerosis Society, American Diabetes Association, Susan G. Komen and others, and the aforementioned Thanks + Giving and CNMH Telethon.

You can understand why.
  • Rallying points come with deadlines. When February’s over, so too is American Heart Month. Miss that deadline and miss the chance to be part of the effort until the following year.
  • They give shape to cause marketing promotions. Breast Cancer Awareness Month enables the pink ribbon to be seen basically anywhere. On an NFL player’s glove, for instance.
  • They give the media… social media included… a story to tell. These rallying points can gain so much momentum that they reach a kind of tipping point, after which the media seeks stories from and about the event.
  • They become ‘teach-ins’ to use the increasingly antique phrase. That is, they give you the chance to tell every conceivable channel why your cause matters. Every March of Dimes walk is a chance to talk about birth defects, about the damage that’s done, how to prevent birth defects and the good news about what’s working.
  • They give sponsors something to rally to. Back in the old days of the Children’s Miracle Network Telethon, we brought in all our sponsors to do live appearances on the show. With so many of them there, we’d host meetings, hospital tours, golf tournaments and the like. It turned out to be a chance for corporate America to network both on behalf of CMN and also themselves.
  • They give supporters a culminating event to anticipate, work towards and celebrate. Even if the fundraising and/or volunteering starts again the week after your rallying event, having a culminating events helps you measure your effort against the prior year, celebrate the successes and learn from the failures.


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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.

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