You may have heard the terms “cause marketing” and “social marketing” being applied to endeavors that promote a good cause or movement. So, what’s the difference, and how can you do good with your marketing and communications budgets?

Cause marketing typically refers to a for-profit business partnering with a non-profit to raise money or awareness for a social issue or cause, while social marketing efforts work to influence behavior change that ultimately benefits the greater society. There are certainly different goals and objectives attached to each, but at the core their foundations have many similarities in their realization. 

How can you be successful in cause marketing or social marketing? Here are some tips:

  1. Be genuine and transparent. Above all, cause and social marketing efforts are at their best and most successful when the company or organization behind the campaign is authentic and invested. Without the true desire to do good at the root of the initiative, these types of efforts can come off as disingenuous and tacky, and ultimately can backfire by creating a negative association with the cause you’re trying to support. Let your audience know WHY you care so much about the cause, and why they should too. If you’re not invested, they won’t be either. 
  1. Set clear goals and determine a realistic way to measure them. Before you make any moves, sit down and outline what you are looking to get out of a marketing effort.

Define clear boundaries for what you’re willing to invest in the effort and what your priorities are. Once you determine this, it’ll help you identify exactly what you’re asking your audience to do. What’s your call-to-action? What do you want people to do once they see your message? 

Ensure you are comfortable with how you will be able to measure success, whether through sales, research, or something else. But proceed on this step with caution and understanding—with social marketing especially it can be incredibly difficult to define any sort of true impact of a communications campaign. Changing behaviors can be a multi-year effort, and even then there are typically too many other variables at play to isolate your campaign as the true mover of minds. Instead, make reasonable goals rooted in things like website visits, toolkit downloads, etc. Work with your marketing partner to develop strategic goals based on your media plan and your overarching goals. What can you measure that will determine if you’re moving the needle?  

  1. If you’re thinking about doing it, actually do it. Many companies grapple with the idea of marketing to begin with, as it can be difficult to realize the value upfront. So, it can be especially difficult to allocate budget to something that’s a little more nebulous and/or doesn’t contribute to a company’s bottom line. But it’s so important to make the move and do good through marketing. If you don’t do it, your cool programs, initiatives, or policies don’t go anywhere. By amplifying the good you are trying to do, these causes get the attention they deserve to grow, causing shifts in behaviors and attitudes.
  1. Doing good doesn’t mean you have to compromise creative quality and results. Even the most boring of topics can be made engaging and eye-catching with the right creative campaign. Partner with the right creative agency that can push you in the right direction to create good, cool and successful creative work. It’s all about how you tell the story. For example, preventing auto theft by telling people to lock their doors? Not that exciting at first glance. But, finding the creative hook can make all the difference. 
  1. Find an agency who holds the same values as you. Working with a purpose-driven agency that understands your goals—and more importantly, truly cares about making them realized—can make all the difference in how your marketing efforts unfold. Look for an agency that you can create a true, trusting partnership with, that transcends a traditional vendor/client relationship. Finding the right partner is key to your success.          

And remember, whether you’re employing cause marketing or social marketing, the importance of the intention remains the same: there needs to be a genuine sense of care and purpose behind the effort. 

Amélie has long-since centered ourselves in the idea of doing good work, for good humans. We believe in promoting and supporting causes and organizations that are truly purpose-driven, and our goal is to develop creative communications campaigns that are provocative and educational at the same time. We create work that matters.

Have questions about how to promote your cause? We’d love to help.