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Spilling the facts (cause marketing - part 2)

As most of my friends / peers / clients know, I'm a big fan of cause marketing.

Because all the 'push' communication we put our there - the ads, the press releases, the direct mailings, the tv spots, you name it, are perceived by the public (and that's us too, folks!) as just that: pushy.

Now don't get me wrong: at Muse Communication we of course also help create all those communication tools for clients, so I'm not trying to be 'holier than thou' here. But over the past few weeks my mind has been brewing on the question: "what does the future of effective communication look like?" I'm not gonna answer that question just yet. My thoughts are taking shape and when it all makes sense, I'll be sure to let you know right here.

But back to cause marketing and why I think it is such an important business tool.
Cone Inc recently announced the findings of its 'Cause Evolution Survey'
Although the survey was conducted in the US, I think we can safely transport its main findings to consumers in Europe too.

Here are some key findings:
- More than 65% of Americans say they consider a company’s business practices when deciding what to buy.
- 85% of Americans say they would switch to another company's products or services if a problem with business practices was uncovered.
- 92% acknowledge they have a more positive image of a company that supports a cause they care about.
- 87% are likely to switch from one brand to another (price and quality being about equal) if the other brand is associated with a good cause! (now if that doesn't illustrate how cause marketing can help convert prospects into customers!)

Today’s informed consumers are now asking, 'Is this a good company?' and 'What does it stand for?'"

I think cause marketing is an often underrated, under-utilized yet potentially pivotal part of a brand's communication. To put it in plain business terms: the ROI of a carefully chosen cause marketing program will prove positive beyond a doubt in many ways: both in terms of new customers and proud employees, to name just two.

Oh, there is one very important prerequisite though: your cause marketing effort must be a part of the brand ethos and not just it's marketing plan. For if your customer (and prospective customer) even gets so much as a whiff that the cause you are supporting is no more than a clever PR stint, you're doomed to loose all credibility. Food for thought not only for marketing managers...

$100 Million for 10,000 Women (cause marketing - part 1)

Now there's a title that grabs your attention!

On Mar. 5, Goldman Sachs (GS), the world's largest investment bank, announced in Business Week that it would be pumping $100 million into educational projects to help thousands of women entrepreneurs in developing countries start (and succesfully manage) their own businesses over the next five years. Many female entrepreneurs in developing countries have already received financial help from local microfinance banks and nonprofits that issued them small loans and financial support. Most of the women however, have little, if any, formal education and lack the management skills and financial savvy to take their business to the next level.

Goldman Sachs is hoping to create a new model of management education designed to help these women learn everything from how to write a business plan to market their own business. The company will be teaming up with some of the world's top business schools, including Wharton, Columbia, Harvard, and Cambridge University's Judge Business School, to develop management education certificate programs at universities in countries such as Nigeria, Rwanda, and Afghanistan. The programs will be flexible and of short duration, ranging from several weeks to several months.

Now that's a project that, as a 'marketeer to women', really warms my heart. What a wonderful, long overdue initiative! Not to mention that it's a great PR-able project that suddenly puts what we perceive to be a cold, distant financial behemoth such as Goldman Sachs in a completely new light!

Further reading: Here's a great article on how cause marketing can help improve marketing's bottom line.