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Showing posts from February, 2013

Cause Marketing That’s Asleep at the HTML Wheel

Bought a book today at and there waiting for me in the checkout window was an invitation to donate $1 or more to the Wounded Warrior Project. Great idea. A pity Overstock did it so carelessly.

Currently, consumers tell marketing researchers they are mostly likely to respond to cause marketing appeals from military veteran’s causes like the Wounded Warrior Project. Gallup says that the military is the most-confidence inspiring institution in modern American society, polling out 14 points higher than the second place finisher, small business.

In other words, in picking a veteran’s cause like Wounded Warrior to partner with Overstock put its finger on the beating pulse of the American zeitgeist.

They just didn’t quite get it right.

Read the call to action and you’ll know what I mean: “Donate to a Good Cause,” it reads. Wounded Warrior’s evocative logo is there. So too are the words “Learn More” with a link to some explication. But the call to action is the bloodless, “Donate t…

Which is The Better Cause Marketing Fundraiser, Merchandise or Paper Icon?

A local grocery store is selling paper shamrocks for MDA starting at $1. The local Cinemark theater is selling lapel pins for $3 that support the Variety Club. Both MDA and the Variety Club are august charities that in the main serve children. Both approaches have advantages to recommend them and shortcomings to overcome.

Here’s a short list of the pluses and minuses of each:
A box of 100 of either the lapel pin or the shamrock is probably about the same size, meaning they take an equivalent amount of counter space. Sales of both the paper shamrock and the pins will eventually go stale. But whereas most retailers wouldn’t have many qualms about throwing the leftover paper icons in the recycle bin, it wouldn't be so easy to do the same for the Variety lapel pin because they have a higher perceived value.Paper icons, if they’re displayed in the store or theater, can have such impact that they drive more sales. But they can also make a visual mess of your establishment. Both are supp…

To Make Your Cause's Facebook Updates Unforgettable Use Conversational Language

A recent study finds that your Facebook posts are more memorable than individual sentences from books, or even human faces. One possible reason is that people remember Facebook posts is that they're more like dialogue and less like dry prose.

The paper published in the January 2013 issue of Memory and Cognition and called Major Memories for Microblogs and it details several experiments involving how well people remember Facebook posts.

The paper’s authors were Laura Mickes, Ryan S. Darby, Vivian Hwe, Daniel Bajic, Christine R. Harris, Nicholas J. S. Christenfeld of the University of California at San Diego, and Jill A Warker of the University of Scranton. Professor Mickes has a new appointment at the University of Warwick in Coventry.

In the first, they tested for how well people remembered the status updates of strangers in Facebook. Study subjects were randomly assigned to see on a screen either Facebook posts or sentences from books for a brief flash. Immediately after they we…

B2B Cause Marketing

Throughout 2013 Rose Paving, which provides parking lot services to commercial and industrial properties nationwide, is raising money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Parking lot services means that Rose Paving does stuff like patching asphalt parking lots, marking them with parking stripes, repairing walks and installing and maintaining curbs, gutters, and storm sewers, and the like. This is a real B2B business. There’s not a consumer in sight anywhere in Rose’s business model.

As I often say in this space, most cause marketing is undertaken by companies that face the consumer. But not always. This is plainly a case of B2B cause marketing.

So how is Rose going to raise money for St. Jude, do a Facebook like campaign? Not exactly. Although if you do like Rose on Facebook you can get details about the effort.

Instead, Rose is taking its appeals to its customers… industrial and commercial property developers and managers… at the trade shows it exhibits at. Rose’s various boot…

Cause Marketing Google Glass

The New York Times says that Google Glass is in talks with Warby Parker to make sure the augmented reality head-up display isn’t just geeky-cool, but cool looking.

Google Glass is basically a computer that allows you to take a picture or record video of whatever you’re seeing using voice commands, and then send it off to your social network. It displays map instructions in real time, translates words, allows you to read your Gmail, and answers spoken questions like ‘how long is the Brooklyn Bridge?’ Google is holding an essay contest on Twitter and Google+ to recruit beta testers. Enter before Feb 27, 2013 and be prepared to pay $1500, plus tax!

That's Google co-founder Sergey Brin on the left wearing a pair.

Meanwhile, Warby Parker is famous inside and outside of cause marketing circles for its use of BOGO, buy one-give one. When you buy a pair of Warby Parkers the company gives a second pair of glasses to someone in need.

BOGO is a defining part of Warby Parker’s unique selling…

Activating Your Cause Marketing Via Old School Methods

Nowadays when every brand has a YouTube channel, and pages on Pinterest, Google+, and Facebook, it’s easy to think that when you activate your cause marketing on a social  network that you’re done.

Not so fast, Twitter-breath.

You still need to reach customers and prospects where they are and that can mean activating cause marketing on packaging, signage, and yes, placemats.

Black Bear Diner, a franchise with 56 locations in nine western states, went old school to help activate its Dec 2012 effort for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Black Bear Diner is one of those places where the ample portion sizes seem just about right for NFL linemen.

In the promotion Black Bear sold Make-A-Wish’s star-shaped paper icons (aka pinups) and donated $1 for each dessert sold from a select list. The total donation was capped at $50,000.

Using paper placemats was the right approach for this cause marketing activation. After all, once a patron is in the restaurant, the best way to reach them isn’t via Google+ or…

Cause Marketing and the Power to Convene

On Feb 1, 2013 Bushnell announced that it had made a $145,000 donation to Folds of Honor, a cause that offers scholarships to the spouses of disabled or fallen soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines. In total, Bushnell has donated $450,000 since 2010.
Part of the donation came from Bushnell’s pledge to give $1 for each download of the song, “What Matters Most,” by country singer Craig Morgan, himself a US Army veteran. But part of the donation comes from regular folks who donated at Bushnell’s website.
Bushnell, which makes binoculars and rifle scopes, didn’t break out the dollars for the 2013 donation, but the press release did say that the donation for the song download was capped at $10,000.
Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that you and I and a lot of other regular folks donated the other $135,000. If so, that seems like a pretty sweet deal for Bushnell because they get to take credit for a $145,000 donation!
But step back from your cynicism for a moment and factor this…

Matching Cause and Sponsor in Cause Marketing

Trey Watson owns a fruit tree nursery in East Texas called Legg Creek Farm and so naturally when he decided to do some cause marketing he choose congenital heart defects. During the week of Feb 7-14, 2013 Legg Creek donated 10 percent of gross sales to several congenital heart defects causes.

Wait a minute, you say, a fruit tree nursery and congenital heart defects? How does that track?

In general, research shows that customers prefer to be able to easily understand the relationship between the cause and the sponsor. But certainly that isn’t always the case.

Target, the big retailer, doesn’t have an obvious connection to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Kohl’s doesn’t sell only to children, so why is their cause called Kohl’s Cares for Kids?

IKEA is an international retailer, but that only addresses half the reason for their support of the UNHCR, the United Nation’s relief agency.

All these retailers can break the usual rule because either they support what I call the “universal ca…

Putting the Fun in Crowdfunded Cause Marketing

Wikipedia says there’s at least 450 crowdfunding platforms out there including a substantial minority that exist to benefit nonprofits, notably Ed Norton’s, and microfinance giant Both are fine organizations, if sometimes a little bit earnest.

In the U.K. a charity called Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research built Pledgeit, a platform that puts the fun back in crowdfunding for causes.

Here’s how it works: Suppose your friend Spencer has been nattering on for 15 years about his karaoke rendition of the old Bill Withers’ classic “Ain’t No Sunshine.” How he brought down the house at the oldest karaoke joint in Osaka, won the contest, made young women weep with the tenderness of his interpretation, and actually got the right number of “I know’s” in the chorus of the song. But is there an mp3 of Spencer's performance? A trophy from that glorious night? An Instagram of him actually singing anything? No. No. And no.

Pledgeit helps you call out Spencer and oth…

Cause Marketing Goes to the Dogs

Shep may be loyal, true, affectionate and well behaved… the best thing that’s ever happened to you. Or he may be a neurotic canine basket case of the type featured on the TV program, The Dog Whisperer. But you love Shep and want the world to know it.

Now you can with a sterling silver pendant that recreates old Shep’s paw print in three dimensions. Best of all, “30 percent of the proceeds” from the sales of the pendant benefit the Millan Foundation’s DEAR Fund. The price of the pendants range from $180 to $200.

“Each dog has a unique paw shape,” says Tim Foster, the designer of the pendant and owner of the Los Angeles jeweler Pennyroyal Studio. “A pendant made from the exact outline of your dog’s paw is like wearing your best friend’s finger print on a necklace.”

The Millan Foundation was started by Cesar Millan, the star The Dog Whisperer, which ran for seven seasons on National Geographic Wild. He is also the editorial director of the dog magazine Cesar’s Way.

The Millan Foundation re…

Cause Marketing Valentine's Day

It’s Valentine’s Day, a natural reminder that it's time to get rid of the evidence of someone you once 'liked.'

After all, there's your ex in every other post on your Facebook wall and scattered all throughout your timeline.

What do you do after you’ve moved on but the evidence of your past likes remain? Well, back in the day, Stalin had an army of skilled photo retouchers to call upon when someone fell out of favor. (See some of their handiwork at left)

Today a cheeky New York digital agency named ClearHart launches a new mobile app that will remove all evidence of your ex from your Facebook page faster than you can say ‘Stalinist Purge.’ And 20 percent of the sales of the app benefit the American Heart Association of New York, up to $5,000

Called KillSwitch, the app deletes pictures, videos, and wall posts, and unlikes status updates.

“KillSwitch is not a vindictive tool, so much as an answer to a very natural, pre-existing human behavior,” says ClearHart Co- Fo…

Secret Decoder Ring Cause Marketing

There’s some swell cause marketing messaging on many packaged goods products these days, but after the messaging gets in the home, then what?

This thought was promoted by a recent study from MeadWestvaco, which found that after people get a product home, they are less satisfied with the packaging than when they pulled it off the grocer’s shelf.

Think about it, products like a can of soup probably get eaten in one fell swoop, while a box of cereal may last for weeks, and a tin of nutmeg might stay in the home for years.

In other words a cause marketing message could be in the pantry for days, months, or years.

Why wouldn’t the cause and the sponsor want to continue to interact with a consumer whose loyalty is proven?

Naturally you should put the pertinent URLs on the packaging. That’s an obvious first step.

Loyalty programs like My Coke Rewards, which has a cause marketing component, are another answer, and a good one. 

Several prominent cause marketing efforts require you to send in a p…

In This Post I Get Defensive About Cause Marketing

In the lead up to the eagerly-anticipated Social Media Week in New York City later this month, Lisa Chau interviewed Mike Hemingway, who helped create the Dove Real Beauty campaign while at Olgivy & Mather.

Chau asked Hemingway the following: “Why doesn’t cause marketing work?”

Work at what? Moving product? Increasing profits? Providing a meaningful source of unrestricted cash to nonprofits? Taking garbage questions like this out to the back alley and shooting them?

As a practice, cause marketing has been grown faster than the rate of inflation for 20 years. Companies like General Mills, Campbell’s, and even Subaru have made cause marketing a centerpiece of their marketing strategy for years. In survey after survey, people from every demographic… even those who have complaints with cause marketing…would like to see more it.

And, never mind that Hemingway’s brainchild… Dove Real Beauty… is a flavor of cause marketing.

Here’s Hemingway’s response:
“Cause marketing works in terms of i…

Cause Marketing Blog Interview with Neil Bradshaw of AVEX

AVEX water bottles have a handy water spout that keeps out the grit and dirt and can be activated with one hand.

In this second video interview from the 2013 Winter Outdoor Retailer trade show in Salt Lake City, I talk with AVEX’s Brand Ambassador Neil Bradshaw about how this product feature figured into their decision about which charity to support when it came time to do some cause marketing.

As with yesterday’s interview with Bearpaw marketing VP Randy McKinley, AVEX found its cause marketing partner close at hand. But proximity just made the meetings easier.

Watch now as Bradshaw explains how the cause’s mission and appeal sealed the deal for AVEX.

Cause Marketing Blog Interview with Randy McKinley of Bearpaw

The Outdoor Retailer Show increasingly features a lot of cause marketing. You can always find a lot of very visible ‘big cause marketing’ at the trade show, which took place in January 2013 in Salt Lake City.

But in my fifth time at the biannual trade show I went looking for small efforts; cause marketing that’s just being tried out. And I asked them how they found their cause partners and what they hoped to accomplish.

Today, a conversation with Randy McKinley, VP of marketing at Bearpaw, a boot company, that turned over the canvas of its shoes to young art students.

Watch and listen as Randy describes how the promotion developed and what Bearpaw’s expectations are going forward.

Cause Marketing Your Why

For about a year in 2009-2010 it seemed that at 60 percent of the business meetings I went to some mention was made of ‘finding your why,’ a reference to the book called Start with Why by Simon Sinek.

I found myself thinking of the adverb form of the word ‘why’ when I saw this free standing insert (FSI) from the German skincare company Beiersdorf, owner of the brands Nivea and Eucerin.

Mind you, few cause marketers are as unsentimental as I am. Across the nearly 1,000 posts in the Cause Marketing Blog, I’m almost always the one that supports cause marketing for the causes. More than once I’ve said, in effect, 'who cares if you have a sponsor’s heart and soul, you got their check and any attendant publicity.' (I defended Komen during the KFC debacle, for crying out loud!). So long as the deal is done legally, ethically, and transparently, not much about cause marketing gives me heartburn.

But nowadays companies have an astonishing choice of causes to partner with. And in cases li…

How to Know It’s Time to Fire Your PR Group

The most common way to activate or promote your cause marketing campaign is via public relations. If your firm has complications like multiple locations doing the same cause marketing promotion at the same time then your PR crew has a responsibility to step up their game.

Here’s what happened instead from the franchisor of SIGNARAMA, the world’s largest sign franchise with nearly 900 locations in 50 countries. Some number of SIGNARAMA stores do a cause marketing style promotion called Signs of Support whereby they make in-kind donations worth as much as $10,000 to local causes in their service area.

So how does SIGNARAMA corporate parent activate this effort? With the same press release in each market, released on the same date over the same PR wire.

At left is proof. There are three press releases for SIGNARAMA stores in Edmonton, Alberta, Peterborough, Ontario, and Louisville, Kentucky all with exactly the same leads or first paragraphs. They differ in the second paragraph, but the f…

My Crackpot Theory on The Value of Aggregating Multiple Cause Marketing Promotions

Back in December I took note of a grocery chain circular that had aggregated several cause marketing efforts onto one page and asked, rhetorically, whether it was a good idea or not. Further, I asked where are the marketing theories to give some guidance on whether a company that does multiple and coinciding cause marketing promotions, as this chain did, was right to combine them or was better to keep them separate and distinct.

I’m here now with own crackpot theory, borrowed from the field of education and informed by octogenarian educator and literary critic E.D. Hirsch. Hirsch is perhaps best known as the author of the book Cultural Literacy and a founder of the Core Knowledge movement.

In a recent essay called ‘A Wealth of Words,’ Hirsch makes the case that receding economic equality in the United States can be laid at the feet of declining student vocabulary size.

“Vocabulary size,” writes Hirsch in the City Journal, “is a convenient proxy for a whole range of educational atta…

Add Free Wi-Fi to Your Cause Marketing Mix

At SXSW in 2012, an ad agency with both cheek and enterprise turned Austin-area homeless people into 4G hotspots. The homeless people made $20 a day, plus tips.

The stunt generated tons of publicity, much of it mixed. I suspect/hope some of the homeless folks made bank during the run of SXSW. Too bad they didn’t end their time at SXSW with something more lasting.

Now Wavespot, a provider of Wi-Fi solutions for small business, is offering your nonprofit a free Wi-Fi hotspot, a $1200 value, just for signing up. And this offer does leave nonprofits with something more lasting.

Wavespot makes its money selling its ‘marketing router,’ as they put it, to small and medium sized businesses. To access the Wi-Fi, you have to like the provider’s Facebook page or Follow it on Twitter. So you can get free Wi-Fi in that indie coffee shop you like so much, so long as you connect with it via one of the two most prominent social networks. The same rules apply nonprofits that offer free Wi-Fi via a Wave…