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Showing posts from March, 2013

Inquiring Cause Marketers Want to Know, What Works on Kickstarter?

The growth of Crowdfunding in the United States seems likely to continue and, I suspect, it to be further cemented as a vital tool for cause marketers. Ethan Mollick, at the Wharton School, has a taken a first crack at some early learning about what works in crowdfunding that has application for both cause marketers and entrepreneurs.

Mollick used Kickstarter as his dataset, with its 48,500+ projects and $237+ million in combined funding

Here’s what Mollick’s analysis shows:
Because the greater the size of the founder’s social network the more likely the project is to be funded, it pays to be popular… especially on Facebook. Polished pitches are the most likely to be funded. Relatively few succeed without a video, for instance.There seems to be a geo-cultural component to successful pitches. Films are more likely to be funded in Hollywood, while music projects are more likely to be funded in Nashville.   Sixty-day Kickstarters are less likely to be funded (29 percent) than 30-day pitches…

What Cause Marketing in Hell Looks Like

As a part of my occasional series of posts on the results of cause marketing efforts, today we turn to a guest donation program in the national parks, which, a press account says, generated nearly $1 million in 2012.

The money was used for “priority park programs.” The donations are generated basically when the 638 concessioners at the 401 national park areas… at their discretion… allow guests to add $1 to their lodging bill per night stayed. In other words, it’s an add-a-dollar effort.

As I did some research to drill down on this effort I was astonished at what I learned. First of all, 279 million people visited the parks in 2011, suggesting something less that one out of every 279 visits led to a $1 donation. Not bad when you consider that not every one of those 279 million visitors stayed a night in a participating concessioner’s room.

The next surprising thing is that the National Park Guest Donation Program was piloted at 12 national parks over the course of three years in the earl…

One Reason Why So Much Cause Marketing Goes to Children's Causes

Ever wonder why so much cause marketing ends up supporting children's causes, even when the sponsor's business has little to do with children? Part of the answer lies with a topic of psychology called generativity.

People who score high on tests of generativity are much more generous donors to causes and charities than those who score low. Generativity means, “the concern in establishing and guiding the next generation,” according to an academic named Erik Erikson, who coined the term and gave it that definition in a 1963 paper.

Knowing how people express their level of generativity could certainly help cause marketers better target their campaigns and audiences.

Dan McAdams and Ed de St. Aubin theorized that cultural demand and inner desire are the two ultimate motivations behind generativity, promoting a conscious concern for the generations behind them. These motivations are supported by a belief in the goodness of the human species. Combined they generate a commitment to gen…

When a $1 Cause Marketing Donation is Not Enough

Movers Specialty Service, which relocates things and people, including military families, has been doing a little cause marketing since 2012 on behalf of the Travis Manion Foundation and the Wounded Warrior Project. And such a deal they have for you!

Whenever they relocate any member of the military or engage in a “third party assignment” they’ll donate $1 to be split in some percentage between those two causes, according to a press release issued March 23, 2013.

Imagine that, one whole dollar.

I have never engaged a service like Movers Specialty Service, but I did once rent a 32’ truck from an agency, filled it up with the help of friends and loved ones and drove it 1,800 miles cross-country with my esposa. Between gas and the rental fee, I spent right around $2,700, not including incidentals like hotel stays and meals.

When I moved back, I had a different company drop off an empty trailer, which I loaded with the help of friends and family, and which the trucking company hauled back …

Cause Marketing and Your Crowdfunding Project

In its April 2013 issue, Fast Company reviews the numbers at the alpha crowdfunding site Kickstarter and they’re crazy: 86 million unique visitors, 2.2 million of which actually backed at least one project to the tune of $274 million in 2012 alone. That’s almost twice as much money as the National Endowment for the Arts spent in the same year.

But as the number of projects have gone up it’s gotten harder to be conspicuous in the crowd. And everyone’s pretty well gotten the memo that you need to use video. Fast Company says that in 2012, 82 percent of the projects used video to tell their story.

So how do you stand out before a crowd of would be funders? One option is use cause marketing. That’s what Shethinx did for its Kickstarter project. Shethinx makes women’s underwear treads that narrow middle-ground between functional but dull granny underwear, and pretty but impractical fashion underwear.

Shehinx used Kickstarter to launch the company. And aside from the technology of their …

Democratized Cause Marketing That I Don't Totally Hate

King’s Hawaiian, which makes those fat loaves of pillowy-sweet bread is doing one of those democratized cause marketing efforts that I love to hate. Only I don’t exactly hate this one from my Hawaiian ‘ohana’ as much.

You know what I mean when I say democratized cause marketing; the cause that gets the most votes takes home the biggest check. A second characteristic is that much of activation occurs via the standard social networks. American Express did it with its Members Project. Pepsi infamously did it with Pepsi Refresh. Redwood Creek, a wine brand, does one as well. And there are more.

What I hate about these efforts is that they pit charities against each other in ways that I find unseemly. All of us want to see charities cooperating for the greater good, not elbowing out their perceived competitors at the trough.These kinds of promotions can bring out the worst in causes.

Also, there’s a frequently a strong Matthew Effect at work in these efforts; the rich get richer and the …

KPIs for Cause Marketers

If you ask a regular marketer what his KPIs are he may have a handful. But ask a digital marketer what her key performance indicators and she may have 100 or more. The reason, said Jeff A. Allen, a product marketer at Adobe Marketing Cloud at an American Marketing Association meeting yesterday is that digital marketing generates a huge pile of data that can be efficiently cross-tabulated in countless ways. Consequently, all marketing is becoming ever more analytical and more scientific since you can easily and quickly test hypotheses about what works and what doesn’t.

Which prompts the question for cause marketers, what are your KPIs?

Ignore, for the moment, the fact that your cause marketing campaigns may not currently be digital; how do you measure its success?

You can start with the obvious; dollars raised, sales, impressions generated, media value of said impressions, and number of participants. But you can and should go deeper.

Because, as Allen put it, if you can’t document yo…

Taking Your Cause Marketing International With Less Headache

One of the topics broached at the Cause Marketing Academy a few weeks back in Phoenix is was what a sponsor with operations outside North America should do if its preferred cause stateside doesn’t really have operations abroad, which is true of all but a select few charities.

The obvious answer is that you work with causes abroad that follow a like theme; children’s health, or animal welfare.

Then we went down the rabbit hole on treasury issues, requisite disclosure in multiple countries, currency exchanges, and all kinds of legal headaches. Then there’s the issues of coordinating the marketing across multiple languages and cultures.

Sponsors can be forgiven is they just throw up their hands at the thought of some kind of unified cause marketing effort that takes place at roughly the same time in multiple countries.

Or, you could just call one of the causes associated with the UN and be done with it.

That’s what two luxury brands, TAG Heuer of Switzerland and Mont Blanc of Germany …

Cause Marketers, You Got Some 'Splainin' to Do

A new survey of corporate communicators finds that most companies spend no more than 10 percent of their communications budget telling the world about their CSR efforts, and fifty percent of their communications outreach is media relations and internal audiences like employees.

The survey comes from London-headquartered Grayling, the world’s second largest independent PR agency with annual billings of $148 million.

Among other findings:
Just 12 percent of companies use social media to talk about CSR/sustainability efforts.
Only 52 of companies believe that the media is interested in covering CSR issues.
Thirty percent believe that impact of their CSR is to their corporate reputation; just 6 percent think that it positively affects sales.
Companies say the main drivers for CSR/sustainability are a genuine sense of responsibility (31 percent); staff morale (16.6 percent); government regulation (12.4 percent).
The top three areas of focus for CSR/sustainability are CSR (16.4 percent); waste …

Using BOGO Cause Marketing to Sell Men's Razor's

A new e-tail website called launched last week with a BOGO cause marketing approach. Harry’s sells moderately-priced men’s shavers, giving the handles names and taking a boutique approach. If that sounds familiar it’s because was started by Warby Parker co-founder Jeffrey Raider.

BOGO means Buy One, Give One. isn’t the first direct-to-consumer shaving company. Dollar Shave Company with its profane-a** commercials was into the space well before Harry's. And it’s easy to guess why; the business model is so classic, so bulletproof  it has its own name! The razor blade business model is why Proctor and Gamble paid $57 billion for Gillette back in 2005.

Of course, Procter and Gamble has tens of millions to spend on branding and advertising its razor products. No wonder Dollar Shave Company goes blue with its branding and advertising. How else to break through the clutter?

Well, one way is with cause marketing and BOGO. “We are passionate about helping…

Activating 20th Century Cause Marketing via 21st Century Social Media

One of the first business categories to really adopt cause marketing was consumer packaged goods. Those early CPG promotions frequently went something like this: The sponsor would run an ad in a free-standing insert or FSI, which are those booklets of coupons that drop in local newspapers once a week or so. The donation was based on the number of coupons consumers redeemed. So the pitch was, 'get cents off your purchase while some more cents go to a cause.' Naturally, the FSIs served as the principal form of activation for the promotion

Now Naked Juice, a consumer packaged goods company with a long history of cause marketing, is activating their current effort via social media. At left is their Twitter page. About every fifth tweet is one that features the #gooddeeds hashtag.

They switch up the wording, but all the tweets with the #gooddeeds hashtag mention that you can get a coupon at Point your browser there and up pops a $1-off printable coupon. …

Cause Marketing Pennies at a Time

With the 2004 publication of his landmark book The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid in 2004, C.K. Prahalad laid out the case for how technology… and new ways of thinking about customers and business models… could enable companies to deliver products and services of value to the four billion people across the globe who live on less than $2 a day.

Companies like Hindustan Unilever are doing just that with great success. But is there a way that technology could do the same for cause marketing and philanthropic giving?

A startup funded on Indigogo called CentUp is trying to do just that with a microgiving approach targeted at content developers and the people who support them. Here’s how it works:

Producers, like me for instance, put the CentUp button in proximity to their content. The button acts as a like button. The user preloads some sum into their CentUp account and each CentUp like is releases a few pennies. Half goes to the provider, half to so-far unnamed charities. This is trul…

Quien es Mas Creative, You or Your Team?

You’ve got a big pitch coming up, so it’s time to get the team together for a brainstorming session. Here, then, is a softball of a question: Who will come up with more innovative ideas? 1). A team of individuals. 2). The people from the team working individually.

Most of us probably answered number 1. And most of us are wrong.

I learned this in a March 2013 from Professor Leigh Thompson of the Kellogg School at Northwestern University in the in-flight magazine for Southwest Airlines. That's Professor Thompson on the left.

“Individuals who brainstormed alone,” she writes, “generated 21 percent more ideas, and their ideas were 42 percent more original than those that generated from groups.” Although how they determined that the ideas were more original she doesn’t say.

Thompson’s insights come from her new book Creative Conspiracy: The New Rules for Breakthrough Collaboration.

If you think about it for a minute you can guess why this is so. Who hasn’t been in a creative meeting that w…

The Paradox of Pink Ribbon Cause Marketing

On a Wednesday a few Octobers back I had a pink ribbon day to beat all. For breakfast I had a carton of pink-topped Yoplait Strawberry-Mango yogurt. That carton top, along with the others we’d collected, garnered $0.10 apiece for Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

At mid-morning I stopped at my grocer’s deli and picked up a little smoked turkey. The lady at the counter was wearing a pink hat with Komen’s version of the pink ribbon, but like all the versions of the pink ribbon, emblematic of the fight against breast cancer. There was a counter card saying that Boar’s Head deli product supported Komen.

Later I was looking for one of those clear film protectors for my mobile device and I came across a local firm that sells just the thing. Oh, and they donated 5% of online sales in October to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Without much effort we could list dozens of pink ribbon cause marketing efforts that take place each fall. But here's the conundrum, in the United States with a coup…

Nightmare Cause Marketing Scenario

Imagine that a sponsor and a cause engage in a sincere and well-meant cause marketing activity and out of carelessness they word the offer poorly in the activation materials. Perhaps the amount being donated is really oblique or seems to suggest something that isn’t true. And then some enterprising attorney launches lawsuit and he or she finds a sympathetic judge to certify it as a class-action.

This very scenario came up in a discussion group at the Cause Academy convocation last week in Scottsdale, Arizona. On this topic, we concluded two things as a group:
That it will probably happen in the near futureThat it will have the effect of ensuring that cause marketers everywhere make their campaigns more transparent In my view, it will also have a chilling effect on cause marketing as a whole.

Here’s why: Some of the biggest charities, names we all know, are sitting on hundreds of millions of dollars in reserve. There are many legitimate reasons why nonprofits keep money in reserve. But …

Notes from Day 1 of the Cause Academy in Phoenix

I'm in Phoenix for the Cause Academy, a convocation of cause marketers, including causes, sponsors, and counsel. Here's some early notes:

Causes are trying to figure out the work structure that would best deploy their teams. Sponsors want face time with the top leaders of the cause they partner with.Top cause marketers have the ear of their CEOs.Some of the 'always on' cause marketing efforts have left state regulators unsure about how to think about them.Causes are increasingly willing to partner with non-competing causes to better fulfill their missions More tomorrow...

Reporting Back Cause Marketing Results Via Public Relations

This week is all about thanking supporters and reporting the results of cause marketing efforts. On Tuesday, the post was about using advertising to report back. Today’s post is about using public relations or PR. is a shopping portal wherein some 2,500 merchants offer a percentage of your purchase to one of thousands of registered causes when you start at The amount of the donation runs from one percent of your purchase to more than 10 percent depending on the merchant and the offer.

In turn, picks one cause every month to support, saying “a percentage of all purchases made through this site will help the current Cause of the Month.”

Ignore the weak percent of all purchases language for a minute. In Dec 2012, gave $38,255.17 to the AIDS Research Alliance. And what will the ARA do with the money? “It will be able to conduct the eight leukapheresis experiments necessary for the advancement of its promising HIV cure research,” says a press r…

Cause Marketing Beer with BOGO, Brew One Give One

On Monday’s post I touched on the topic of telling people what your cause marketing campaign accomplished when completed. I’ve recommended this approach to clients as a way to keep open the lines of communication with customers and clients and to get extra value from the campaign.

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.

But what if that really cuts across the grain in your organization? What if it’s just not in your corporate DNA to do anything but to frontload your cause marketing activation? Well, then, add the report back to the activation of your next cause marketing effort.

New Belgium Brewing of Ft. Collins, Colorado, said to be the seventh largest brewery in the United States, did just that with this ad in Sunset magazine. I found this ad in the Alden Keene Cause Marketing Database.

New Belgium donates $1 for every barrel it brews and sells. It’s a BOGO cause marketing effort, Buy One Give One. …

Let’s Finally Banish the ‘Portion of the Proceeds’ Language from All Cause Marketing

Back in October 2012 the office of New York State’s Attorney General Eric Schneiderman released five “best practices” for conducting cause marketing in the Empire State. They accord to a remarkable degree what I’ve been telling clients for more than 10 years now and have written in the Cause Marketing blog since my first posts almost six and half years ago.

But a local cause marketing promotion reinforced for me the fact that every year a new generation of marketers arises that, as the story in the Bible puts it, “knew not Joseph.” That is, they haven’t gotten the message yet about the right ways to do cause marketing.

Here’s the AG’s guidelines as published:
Clearly Describe the Promotion. Allow Consumers to Easily Determine Donation Amount. Be Transparent About What Is Not Apparent. Ensure Transparency in Social Media. Tell the Public How Much Was Raised. Let’s be clear that the AG’s guidelines don’t currently have the force of law. But if they did, any cause marketing offer that didn…

Out-Competed in Cause Marketing? Then Step Up Your Game!

Yesterday I was a judge in the preliminary rounds of my state’s DECA convention/competition. If you’ve never done it, do yourself a favor and volunteer. It will renew your faith in the youth of America.

Each student-pair got a prepared case study and 20 minutes to work up a campaign… the case study given to the students I judged was about marketing a new dental practice in a medium-sized community… then 10 minutes to present it in front of the judges. For our part, we were to ask three prepared questions. One of those questions was words to the effect, ‘won’t this promotion you planned disturb the other dental practices in the community?’

Perhaps half the teams felt bad that this was the case and proposed potential ways to remedy it. But one team in particular was unapologetic.

They said something like this: “If our promotion shakes customers away from the existing dental practices, it’s probably because they weren’t being well served. If the established practices don’t step up their g…