Cause Marketing

Sharing your community involvement without bragging

Since 2020, there’s been a significant increase of social awareness in shopping. According to Business Wire, consumers are now more interested in how a brand addresses social and environmental issues when making a purchase. That leaves brands asking: How do we authentically incorporate this messaging into our marketing? 

The answer is through cause marketing. “Cause marketing is looking for those win-win opportunities,” says Kristan Hart, COO of The Get Smart Group. “Your audience wants to see you involved in your community. When businesses positively impact the community, it’s a win-win. Profitability increases, but the community wins as well because they get involvement from the business.” 

Some of the most common cause marketing efforts Hart has seen include sponsoring the local little league team, a charity event or a marathon, but the most successful are when her clients get involved personally. Rather than just sponsoring events, they show up and participate, getting to know community members and contributing to a good cause. 

“That brings it to a whole new level,” she says. “A lot of times, on social platforms like Facebook and Instagram, those are the posts that perform the best. There are lots of ways to take that good event and make it work for the business’ benefit as well.” 

Your audience wants to see you involved in your community. When businesses positively impact the community, it’s a win-win.”

Kristan Hart, The Get Smart Group

The most important factor is picking a cause you believe in. Dana Hyde, co-owner of CK Spas in Saint-Eustache, Quebec, donates a portion of every hot tub sale to Water First, a Canadian organization that provides safe drinking water. At the time of purchase, Hyde tells customers the exact amount of their purchase that’s going towards Water First. “We think it’s an important cause because I don’t think, in 2022, we should still have people in our country without clean drinking water — or anywhere in the world for that matter,” Hyde says. 

While supporting this cause is mentioned on the company’s website and in social media, Hyde says she believes the best place to promote it is in the store. Customers who come in are often ready to purchase, and knowing the cause their purchase supports is a bonus, she says. 

- Sponsor -

Cause marketing doesn’t just revolve around sponsorships and charity involvement. Company events that benefit the community are also a great way to give back. One of the more recent examples Hart recalls is a wellness weekend put on by one of The Get Smart Group’s hot tub retailer clients. “Obviously hot tubs are known for wellness, so the wellness weekend was a really neat way to spin things up,” Hart says. The company partnered with other local wellness-based small businesses, such as a yoga studio and a chair massage therapist, to put on a weekend-long wellness event. 

“That was something that benefitted the community,” Hart says. “Everyone who came got to learn about health and wellness products, but it’s a good way to get your product in front of customers too.” 

Kelly Michael Skelton, marketing manager of affiliate brands at Thrasio, a global product marketing firm, says most small companies don’t think they should publicize every good deed, instead believing the community will see and appreciate it organically. This differs, he says, from large companies, that tend to be scrutinized by the public, questioned and criticized more about what they’re doing to give back because they are generating millions in sales. “So large companies have an inherent desire to let the public know what they’re doing in the community,” Skelton says.

If there was one piece of advice Hart could share with the industry, it would be to not overthink how to effectively showcase your company’s community involvement. “We are a very forgiving society when it comes to technology,” she says. “No one expects video to be television quality anymore. It’s so easy in this digital world to make a big impact without it being a heavy lift for you or your business. Find some people in your community who can help [market your efforts effectively] and do it.” 

Skelton admits cause marketing is tough to do without coming off as bragging. One company he assists with marketing leaves it up to the organizations it helps to take the initial step in telling the community through social media or press releases. Then Skelton shares those posts through the company’s social channels, explaining why it’s important for the company to work with these organizations. 

“We generally don’t post first,” Skelton says. “It’s a lot better to have 1,000 customer reviews saying ‘They sold us a great hot tub’ as opposed to 1,000 pages on your website on why we’re the best spa dealer. I find it’s the same with cause marketing. I let it happen organically. It’s that pay-it-forward mentality — when you help someone, they’ll either want to say thank you or find someone they can help.”