Some companies deliver “cause marketing” with a check and a “good luck with that.” Then they are satisfied that they are supporting this group and have done their duty.
Of course, many of the larger non-profits benefit by large sponsorship fees. In return, the sponsors are allowed to use their logo on their marketing materials. But isn’t there something more that companies can do beside just writing a check? In fact, what can small, undercapitalized companies do who can’t write a check?
We chose the term “Worthy Cause Marketing” to distinguish our more involved approach. Initially, due to a lack of funds, we were forced to discover and employ other and ultimately, more beneficial ways to contribute. We called it Worthy Cause Marketing because it was a cause worthy of our company, brand and product. It was worthy of our time and labor, advice, and promotion. It was also worthy of our long-term loyalty. The cause became part of our brand just as our brand became part of the fabric of the cause community itself.
If your product or service would be used and appreciated by the cause membership, then Worthy Cause Marketing may be for you. If you are a small start-up, you may not have a lot of funds for marketing. But like fishing gear and wild rivers, or health insurance and exercise, identifying a cause that compliments your brand, and choosing to support non-profits within it may be a good way to go.
There are many ways to support the causes you chose. You can take their message to your customers and in the process, bring awareness to your brand story. Consider promoting their fundraiser or passing on their goals to your marketplace. Using your marketing skills and venues, you may be able to access people that they could never get to. These approaches may be much more valuable to them in the long run than just a check.
Cause members are more likely to choose a brand that supports them, especially when they are small and marginalized, or controversial. When they do become mainstream, however, they will not forget the help you gave them when they really needed it. Your goodwill is long-term if your commitment is long-term.
Yes, they still need actual financial support, but you have resources at your disposal that can be much more effective in promoting their cause and gaining their goodwill. When you make it your brand’s cause, you are saying it is worthy of your commitment and it is what your brand stands for beyond the product it represents.
So this holiday season when you hear wishes of goodwill, think about how you can earn your community’s support, even without a big check. Goodwill is a two-way street, so get to work and help out your community!
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