Adding To The Noise

A critical view of new media, new technology and new marketing.

Cause Marketing to Boost Startups and Small Business

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There are many benefits for small businesses or startups to engage in cause marketing. For those who do not have resources to run a full marketing program a cause campaign can raise visibility by providing local or even national media attention. It also creates a positive image that provides a competitive edge over the competition. Research shows people will choose products that support a cause over ones that don’t. That immediate customer goodwill created through the cause marketing campaign can translate into long term customer loyalty while engaging, attracting and retaining quality employees. Many Nonprofit’s also hold fundraisers, which can provide small businesses and startups networking opportunities with stakeholders and potential clients or investors. Below is an ad I did for a local restaurant that supported local food banks.

Despite not having the funding to take part in large-scale efforts, there are ways a small business or new startup can engage in cause marketing through participation and sponsorship in local charity events or activities. The book Cause Marketing for Nonprofits provides some examples including the participation of banks in the Food Bank for New York City Bank-to-Bank partnership and the Canadian Cancer Society’s daffodils sale through Thrifty Foods.

I found an example of local small businesses using cause marketing in a Jewelry trade magazine. Many jewelry stores are still locally owned and family run small businesses that can benefit from cause marketing efforts. One way is for jewelers to participate in local silent auctions through donations. They bring media attention and goodwill to the business and could turn into longer term cause marketing efforts. Another example is a jeweler who created “Battery Mondays” in an effort to raise money for Jewelers for Children. The jeweler says people specifically come in on Monday to make sure the proceeds benefit a nonprofit. Designating a day of the week to benefit a nonprofit is an effective method to increase traffic and sales on traditionally slow days.

Other suggested small business efforts I found included book drives for local child’s learning centers, support for local museums, field trips for children at local schools or sponsoring children’s sports teams and league charitable events. The local hardware store by my house raises money for Vickie’s Angel Walk – a local nonprofit with a mission of helping families fighting cancer who have difficulties paying their bills during the challenging times of fighting their cancer. The small business owner makes it easy to make a donation to the cause at checkout.

A tech startup version of these efforts could be donating a small amount of new account fees to a cause or nonprofit the target audience cares about. Then get other websites and bloggers to promote it for you. Encourage current and new customers the share the effort via social media.

What cause can you support to help jump start your business?

Author: Social Media Prof

I'm a professor in the Center for Leadership Education at Johns Hopkins University. For 17 years I was an advertising professional as an associate creative director and copywriter working on marketing campaigns for large International Fortune 500 companies to small regional businesses. Here I lead and develop multiple communications and marketing courses from traditional to social media. I pull from my professional experience, teach theory, and use interactive methods to inspire and help prepare future leaders in today's fast paced innovation driven business environment. I am also active in academic research. I have published journal articles, lead workshops and presented at academic conferences including AAA and AEJMC.

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