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For Goodwill’s Sake

Building market awareness of an organization’s charitable efforts has long been a successful tactic for enhancing one’s reputation. Recent research from Cone Communications reinforces the notion that companies who support social causes can realize significant benefits.

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However, there are a number of critical factors organizations should consider to ensure their cause marketing efforts achieve the desired results:

Be sincere – While paradoxical, the focus of effective cause marketing should be on the cause, not on the company or its products. Consumers can sense when charitable activities represent a “false front,” which can pose a real threat to the organization’s brand reputation.

Be strategic – Unfocused support for too great an array of causes often leads to diffuse messaging, budget creep, and isolated relationships. Focusing efforts on some causes such as literacy or hunger can help galvanize an organization’s messaging and bring clarity to its mission for employees, customers, and prospects. The more the cause aligns with your organization such as TOM’s where shoes, sight, water, safe birth and kindness fit neatly with its core products.

Be local – While national or global charities are certainly worthy of support and may serve as the bedrock of corporate charitable efforts (in the global giving arena, TOM’s is a prime example, as are companies such as Patagonia and Coke’s association with the World Wildlife Fund), companies should also consider supporting charities in their own backyard. This can lead to more widespread support from employees and locally-based customers, as well as facilitate richer connections and partnership opportunities with the local charities they support.

Be direct – There is no shame in leveraging the positive brand awareness your charitable relationships can engender to attract like-minded customers. If your intent is pure, you should experience no mixed-feelings over letting the world know about all the good things you are doing.