Six Steps to Cause Marketing Success

In my post “A Tale of Two Cause Marketing Campaigns” I talked about the differences between two companies and their cause marketing strategies. I also talked about how those strategies played out, leading to a significant difference in money raised.

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There are multiple outcomes and goals of any cause marketing strategy and point of sale campaigns are no different. Revenue is one obvious outcome, and probably the most important outcome to the charity, but there are two other outcomes alluded to in my first post, but not really unpacked, namely: customer impact and employee engagement. Today’s post is all about employee engagement!

One of the great advantages of the point of sale campaign is that “the ask” is small and you have an army of staff across the country soliciting on behalf of the charity. This advantage, as is often the case, is also the biggest risk. The way to mitigate this risk is not only incredibly simple but it benefits both company and cause. The answer? Employee engagement.

In my last post I described two multiyear campaigns that raised $1.5 million combined. The reason for this success was because we engaged the entire staff of these organizations, with particular emphasis on front line employees. Here is how we did it:

Cause Marketing Strategy #1: Speaking Engagements

We mobilized our charity team so that we could visit as many participating stores as possible. Our office went into “cause marketing mode” for close to two month while we travelled from Halifax to Kamloops and everywhere in between. Big, small, medium…it didn’t matter, we were there. We got local managers on board as well as local volunteers and program recipients to come in to thank and motivate the team.

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Cause Marketing Strategy #2: Stewardship

Once the campaign wrapped, we then wandered the country yet again, this time to bring staff to us in order to see where their dollars raised went. We took them to local programs to see their dollars at work and to connect to the people within their community that they were supporting.

Cause Marketing Strategy #3: Newsletters

We provided content for the internal staff newsletters year round. This gave us a chance to showcase a local store and their impact and to stay front of mind both during the campaign and throughout the year. One of these partners eventually outsourced their staff newsletter to us completely, making us an essential part of their employee engagement strategy.

Cause Marketing Strategy #4: Major Events

We had a handful of major fundraising events, one of which was national and very much a grassroots event. As part of the campaign we extended free admission to these two partners to our major events so that their local staff could participate as a team building exercise. We helped them name their teams, fundraise at the store level and compete with other stores for prizes and bragging rights. In other words, their cause marketing campaign earned them free admission to all of our key events as a tool for employee engagement.

Cause Marketing Strategy #5: Volunteer Opportunities

Since our programs were tangible (as opposed to research or other intangible programming), we created volunteering days so that front line staff, store managers and executives could come together and get their hands dirty giving back to the community. These volunteer opportunities provided engagement but also networking opportunities across various business lines.

Cause Marketing Strategy #6: Storytelling

We didn’t call it “storytelling” back then, just good old fashioned stewardship and fundraising principles. That said, every one of the abovementioned activities was designed to engage employees and arm them with stories. In fact, I would argue that the two go hand in hand. It’s the stories of people being helped by the dollars raised that brings the team together and motivates them to do more. Simply coming to an event or volunteering to pack a grocery cart in and of itself is not engaging, it’s knowing WHY you are doing it that makes the difference. Telling stories also gave front line staff the confidence to make the ask every day not just because they were inspired but because they knew if challenged by a customer, they could answer any question that came their way.

Sound like a lot of work? It was! But it allowed us to move these partners up the ladder into sponsorship, third party events and philanthropic gifts, significantly increasing their support. It also gave these partners the confidence to introduce us to their vendors and other industry partners to pitch new campaigns, knowing that we would take good care of their contacts.

Raising money is important, and maybe it’s the most important goal of the campaign, but it happens only when you engage staff properly and choose the right branding and messaging for your customers. An engaged team works harder and does so happier and with less time off (there are plenty of studies to support this) but the other thing an engaged team does is ask their managers how else they can raise money for their charity of choice and ensure that the campaign grows every year. In the win-win-win equation, employees are a critical factor!

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This post was first published by the good folks at Companies & Causes Canada

Chris Baylis is a sponsorship, cause marketing and corporate fundraising expert. Chris has managed the entire spectrum of the sponsorship process, raising millions of dollars for charities,events, associations and not for profits and is a board member of the Association of FundraisingProfessionals.

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