Cause Marketing Is The New Advertising

Cause Marketing Is New But Different

Many companies see how well cause marketing, supporting a nonprofit in a variety of ways, plays on social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter and want to join the trend. Cause marketing done badly can be a disaster. We created a website to help Small to Medium Sized Businesses (SMBs) understand the best ways to include cause marketing in their diversified online marketing:’s goal is helping a company, brand or even someone working on their personal branding understand how to create cause marketing aligned to business and altruistic goals. Perhaps the most radical idea is to NOT isolate your foundation and cause marketing from your business development and branding goals. We suggest “embedding” your cause marketing with a goal toward making your foundation self sustaining.

“Self-sustaining”, in this context, means the P&L you create for your foundation doesn’t require an annual contribution. Unlikely the first few years will be “self-sustaining”, but weaning your foundation onto it own P&L with attribution benefits (assigning some “commission” to new businesses influenced by your foundation) and gaining grants and other new business so the foundation’s “awards” and costs are covered without contribution from company profits should be every “for profit” company’s goal for its foundation.

Our new website explains how to create a foundation and then embed your foundation in your company’s marketing. We don’t suggest treating your cause marketing “channel” in exactly the same way as other channels such as social marketing, PPC and email marketing. Your foundation can influence and impact all other marketing. Working out attribution, the help your foundation provides, can be a contentious bear. We suggest starting small by donating 1% of your gross and working out attribution as a team as you go.

In Save the World Marketing on SlideShare I suggested nonprofits and for profits were rushing toward each other. Nonprofits needed to learn content publishing and distribution and for profits needed to win hearts and minds with emotional storytelling. When a business decides to support a cause there are important considerations including:

  • Is the cause aligned with your company branding?
  • Is the cause aligned with the same “brand Ideals“?
  • What exposure might the brand or company have?
  • How can the company or brand support the cause best while achieving its business objectives?

Profits keep businesses healthy and innovating. No one believes a business shouldn’t make a profit, but the last Cone Marketing Evolution Study clearly shows a preference for doing social good too. When businesses include “cause marketing” as part of a well diversified marketing plan they shouldn’t abandon the idea of return, but they should redefine what return looks like. Return from cause marketing may be in “lives saved” instead of profits earned.

Can cause marketing help with business development? Of course, but, and this is the tricky part, cause marketing undertaken to generate greater ROI will feel inauthentic and manipulative. Best way we know to avoid feeling or seeming inauthentic is to embed your cause marketing.

Embedding, as explained in Get Started, makes “cause marketing” a tactic on par with and supporting all other marketing strategies. By incorporating cause marketing instead of isolating it to the “do good charity” category you will do more good for THEM (causes you help) and YOU (your brand and business development).

Atlantic BT’s first “cause marketing” created a $25,000 competition for creating a mobile app. Passage Home won the competition and Atlantic BT built their app. Atlantic BT gained traffic, brand exposure and was able to reinforce the “software” side of our business (web and software design is what most customers hire Atalntic BT to create). Atlantic BT’s first cause marketing efforts were rewarded, but they could have produced more if they were embedded into our marketing strategies and approach.

The idea is not to “give away” anything.

Cause marketing should be a mutually beneficial partnership, partnerships that become richer over time. This is why we favor creating a foundation. Once your foundation is created, and the IRS can take months to approve a new nonprofit btw so build that into your plan, asking who would be natural partners helps determine your foundation’s outreach. Atlantic BT has several important audiences for their foundation including:

  • Powerful local nonprofits such as our work with UNC Lineberger Cancer Center and the Duke Cancer Institute. 
  • Other Small to Medium Sized Businesses (SMBs) who want to create cause marketing to diversify their Internet marketing. 
  • Causes our existing customers support (never forget your most profitable customers are always those you have a relationship with NOW). 
  • Startups – the triangle is rich in new startups and startups have web and mobile design needs (needs that are often viral once met). 

 Atlantic BT can use our crowdfunding engine developed for to help address cause marketing for many of these important audiences. There are many “unintended” benefits from creating cause marketing. You find new markets and your “give back” makes the world better creating a great “virtuous cycle” of reward generating reward. As long as your company is transparent and clearly shares, defines and tracks motives no one will see your desire to “give back” as anything other than a desire to learn, contribute and help.

Everyone wants to “learn, contribute and help” so yes cause marketing is the new advertising even though you shouldn’t think of cause marketing like “advertising”. Visit our website for more tips and ideas for how to create winning cause marketing.