Corporate executives representing some of the country’s most recognized national brands say a poor fit between a cause and a company’s core business, brand or target audience is the biggest roadblock to a successful cause marketing campaign. The 2011 Corporate Social Impact Marketing Snapshot, released by Allison & Partners last month at the Cause Marketing Forum conference, provides that and other insights into the challenges corporate executives face when trying to conduct social impact marketing campaigns and identifies factors that contribute to a campaign’s success.
Executives from 35 top national brands, including Best Western, ConAgra Foods, Walgreens, and the Walt Disney Company participated in the study by sharing insights into their corporate philanthropy, community relations or cause marketing programs. In addition to poor fit, executives noted that lack of internal support or engagement and insufficient advertising or marketing resources can stymie these initiatives.
“Successful cause marketing campaigns begin with a relevant connection between the cause and the brand,” said Scott Pansky, partner and co-founder at Allison & Partners. “The relationship should not only make sense, it should be authentic, responsible and transparent, not just to the consumers but also to the company’s stakeholders and employees.”
The results from this snapshot research show that there is an urgent need for companies to reevaluate their processes for creating cause marketing programs. Corporate Socialanthropy™ is a platform conceived by Allison & Partners that guides corporations through the process of conceptualizing, implementing and evaluating integrated campaigns that enhance reputation and brand loyalty while having a positive impact on individuals, the community and world. The process goes beyond associating a brand with a cause: it takes a close look at how the cause mirrors the brand’s core values and marketing focus, and ensures that employees, consumers and partners are engaged throughout.
Bill Bonner, senior director, external relations at OfficeMax says, “the biggest take away of this snapshot for us is that in order for a cause marketing campaign such as our ‘A Day Made Better Campaign’ with Adopt-A-Classroom to be successful, internal alignment with our business goals and companywide engagement from top to bottom has to be established early in the process. That is how these types of programs become a legacy to our company and its team members.”
A majority of study respondents indicated that budget shortfalls and achieving consensus internally on the business goals for a campaign are among the biggest challenges they face when considering cause marketing programs.
“Lack of budget is an obvious challenge, but acquiring internal buy-in for a program can present an insurmountable roadblock if the company’s core values are not clearly aligned with the campaign’s defined goals and ability to produce measureable results,” said Dawn Wilcox, general manager and social impact practice team leader at Allison & Partners. “The key to a successful program is to engage executives and employees at all levels and ensure the program not only benefits the company’s business goals but also has an impact on the cause.”
“The cause marketing literature is full of data on the power of pro-social campaigns to do well by doing good,” said David Hessekiel, president of Cause Marketing Forum, Inc. “The 2011 Corporate Social Impact Marketing Snapshotis particularly valuable because it sheds light on the challenges companies face in creating high-impact programs.”
To view the Executive Summary for the 2011 Corporate Social Impact Marketing Snapshot, please visit www.allisonpr.com.
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About the Snapshot
Allison & Partners invited 230 corporate executives to participate in the 2011 Corporate Social Impact Marketing Snapshot via phone interview, email or online. Thirty-five executives completed the survey. The margin of error associated with a sample of this size is ± 15%.
About Allison & Partners
Allison & Partners is a leading mid-size public relations and public affairs firm with practice areas in consumer marketing, corporate communications, social impact, technology, public affairs and healthcare. The firm builds customized programs integrating media relations, social media, cause-related marketing, sustainability communications, executive branding, customer and employee communications and promotional services. Allison & Partners is headquartered in San Francisco, with offices in Los Angeles, New York, Washington, DC, Atlanta, Phoenix, San Diego, Dallas and Seattle, with a 50-state grassroots network. As an MDC Partners company (NASDAQ: MDCA, Toronto Stock Exchange: MDZ.A), the agency has deep affiliations with best-of-class marketing communications firms worldwide. www.allisonpr.com
About the Cause Marketing Forum
Since 2002, the Cause Marketing Forum has helped businesses and nonprofits succeed at doing well by doing good together by providing access to practical information, valuable contacts and recognition for outstanding achievement. The company provides free access to how-to content, case studies and industry statistics at www.causemarketingforum.com and produces in-person and virtual learning experiences such as the Cause Marketing Forum conference, Cause Marketing Masters Teleconference Series and the Cause Marketing Halo Awards.