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Stop Killing Cause Marketing

When a student needs money for a school lunch, it’s of little or no consequence to them where the money is coming from. They’re just hungry and need funds. It’s not just school lunches, it’s student grants and scholarships, medical goods, tutoring, daycare, and so much more. The list of needs is infinite and, in a downed economy, it continues to grow.

Donations for Followers

When the earthquake in Haiti happened, the Internet was buzzing about all the monetary and physical needs that the country needed. At the time, I didn’t have a business. I was a single father and money was never plentiful. But the incident tugged at my heartstrings so I offered to donate money if I got to a certain number of followers on Twitter.

The backlash was immediate. People screamed at me that I was heartless and it was a terrible thing for me to do. I was absolutely astonished… I was just seeking to increase my authority on Twitter and this seemed like a worthy cause. I could have taken the money and purchased advertising on any number of sites to promote my account… but instead, I thought this would be better since the funds would go to those who needed it most.

I finally gave up. I had so many people pummeling me that I withdrew the offer (and made the donation, anyways).

This has to stop

I was recently speaking with the CMO of a large company who told me that he’d love to provide grants and scholarships to students in return for them providing content and promoting their goods and services. The backlash is the same for this strategy… many in the public screamed that his fat cat company was just exploiting the students and they should provide the grants and scholarships, anyways.

There’s only one problem… he can’t. There’s no budget for grants and scholarships. He can’t simply give money away that his budget requires him to be accountable for and to grow earnings on. He has to invest the money and get a return on investment on the funds. In other words, he has marketing budget and can use it for anything – as long as it leads to business results. He’s not running a charity, he’s running a business.

Many companies would love to do both

Instead, he continues to pay for pay-per-click, advertising, content, and other strategies with businesses where he won’t be publicly maligned. It’s a total loss. The very critics who treat his company like a monster (and treat most corporations like monsters) are killing cause marketing. The money then goes to other big companies instead of helping where it’s needed most.

Companies are in business to make a profit, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t find opportunities to help those less fortunate, the environment, or those in need. Stop killing cause marketing and recognize that there are billions of dollars that could be spent to help those who need it most – but the company can only invest it if they realize there’s a return on that investment.

Stop killing cause marketing.

Here are some great examples of Cause Marketing

Great Clips worked with AdoptAClassroom.org to find deserving teachers and surprise them with a classroom of their dreams. This video, part of Great Clips’ integrated cause marketing campaign, – is a first in the company’s history combining social, digital, in-store, in-home, TV, radio and print.

Douglas Karr

Douglas Karr is the founder of the Martech Zone and CEO of DK New Media. Douglas has helped dozens of successful MarTech startups, has assisted in the due diligence of over $5 bil in Martech acquisitions and investments, and continues to assist companies in implementing and automating their sales and marketing strategies. Douglas is an internationally recognized digital transformation and MarTech expert and speaker. Douglas is also a published author of a Dummie's guide and a business leadership book.

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