Deductions for charitable giving will be significantly reduced in the coming years. Does this mean that the worthy causes that are the recipients of philanthropy will have to get by on less? How can companies afford to support non-profits given this situation?
Even without the existing tax deductions, there are ample reasons that are in the best interest of private corporations’ brand building to support worthy cause organizations. Why not take some of the over $200,000,000,000 we spend each year in the U.S. on conventional advertising and redirect it to another form of advertising–namely, worthy cause marketing?
This is what we used to successfully build a best-selling national brand. We were pioneers in the use of what we termed, “worthy cause marketing.” Here are the basics we learned that you can use to build your brand using worthy cause marketing:
1. Identify a Worthy Cause. Find a cause that resonates with your goods or services. If the cause’s goals are met, you should be able to sell more of your product or service. If you are selling fishing gear, would you be likely to increase your sales if there were more wild rivers? If your company services a specific geographical area, would you benefit if the residents of that area knew about your products and had a social reason to purchase them? Find the cause that resonates with your brand, and see if it makes dollars and sense for your company to support.
2. Establish Strategic Alliances. Within the broad umbrella of the worthy cause that resonates with your company, identify several non-profit organizations (NPO’s). Look for those with memberships that include potential buyers of your products or services either because they reside in your sales area or fit the profile of your ideal customer. Help these organizations get their word out and raise funds in return for goodwill among their members and supporters. When they see you as part of their community, the members have a social reason to buy your products and be loyal to your brand.
3. Be a Team Player. You can use your marketing people to promote their cause, and your distribution system to access an audience they can scarcely touch. Your people can help them with fundraisers and co-promotional events. The NPO can allow you to address their membership with the reasons you support their cause, and what you are doing to help. They can acknowledge your contribution, and allow you to communicate how their members can access your products and services. All this costs them nothing. Now, their membership sees you as part of their team, and is more likely to choose your brand over all the other options available to them.
4. Be More Efficient. We found worthy cause marketing to be more efficient than commercial advertising because it specifically addresses the customers who shared our brand’s ideals, and our support gave them a social reason to buy. Most conventional advertising is a shotgun-blast approach where you hope to get the attention of someone who shares an interest with your brand’s message. Even the advertising agencies will tell you that repeated advertising is required to gain any traction. Why not go a more efficient route, and trump the effects of advertising with NPO member loyalty?
There is a perfect match with a cause that is worthy of your company, your product, and your brand. The results of worthy cause marketing may be more effective for you than any other form of advertising – and you will be able to establish your brand as standing for something greater than your product!
Who Are We.
Having built and sold a bestselling national brand, we appreciate the value of brands and everything it takes to make them successful. Companies are valued by their brand equity. Achieving and maximizing brand equity requires tremendous respect for all your customers, from your wholesaler to your end user.
Starting in our laundry room with no money and no knowledge of the industry, we built the famous Barefoot Wine brand. We learned a lot they don’t teach in school and much of it the hard way. Although our success was in consumer products, our real world experience will be helpful to anyone looking for information and advice about brands.
We have written the New York Times Bestselling Business Book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand, which chronicles the history of the famous brand from its inception through its acquisition. Our book is now required reading in schools of entrepreneurship across the country. We hope this book will provide inspiration and encouragement for all those contemplating starting a brand or wanting to improve their existing brand.
Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey
-Barefoot Wine Founders