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10 Things You Need To Know About The Cause Marketing Trend

10 Things You Need To Know About The Cause Marketing Trend

You want to build a business that attracts a base of loyal customers, but you’re not sure how to differentiate yourself from your more established competitors. Perhaps they have better branding, bigger marketing budgets, and more robust distribution channels. How can you steal the attention of prospective customers long enough to show them how great your product is?

Or maybe you work for an established brand, and lately you’ve been scratching your head as trendy new businesses gobble up market share you’d started taking for granted. You’ve run a few surveys, and the results are depressing at best. Your brand, which was once considered innovative and cutting edge, is now described as “boring, lame, and outdated.” How can you show the market that you’re still relevant and transform casual purchasers into loyal brand advocates?

One opportunity that’s growing in popularity is cause marketing. For this article, we’ll define cause marketing as “Differentiating your brand by supporting a cause that’s important to the prospective customers you want to reach.”

If you’re considering a cause marketing experiment, here are 10 things you should know:

1. Cause marketing is a powerful way to connect with people.

“People don’t buy what you do; people buy why you do it.” That’s what Simon Sinek argued in his famous TED Talk “How Great Leaders Inspire Action.” Cause marketing is a great way to reveal the ‘why’ behind your company’s ‘what’. Maybe you’re passionate about assisting the homeless, so you decide to give your employees time off to volunteer at local shelters. When people with similar convictions see your company taking a stand, you can form powerful connections.

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A good cause marketing campaign also builds emotional connections by humanizing a brand. For fiction authors, a key step in developing compelling characters is deciding what each character wants. When you know what someone wants, you understand them better, and you’ll even root for them if you want the same things. A good cause marketing campaign reveals what you want as a company, and customers who identify with your cause are more likely to connect with you.

2. Cause marketing is a brilliant way to differentiate your brand from its competitors.

Historically there have been two ways to differentiate a product or service from its competitors: price and features. The problem is, when it comes to price, there’s only one winner. Also, with many products, it’s hard to truly differentiate based on features. But what if one product is simply a product, and the other is a movement that’s supporting a cause you care about? Why not buy the laundry detergent that donates 10% of its profits to disabled veterans? A good cause marketing campaign can make a brand look remarkably different than an otherwise identical competitor. It’s the perfect tie-breaker. Clever, right?

3. Cause marketing is an effective way to build brand advocates.

Some products are so unique and valuable people can’t wait to share them with their friends, but many brands don’t have this luxury. So how can you turn casual purchasers into loyal brand advocates when your product is valuable but not revolutionary? One way is to support a cause your customers care about. If they’re passionate about ending hunger in the community and you’re the company that’s doing something about it, they’ll want to share you with their friends.

4. Cause marketing can bring free publicity.

A good cause marketing campaign can rake in lots of free press, as well as online shares. Those inbound links can boost your performance in search engines and bring new traffic to your site. Plus, local news outlets loves stories about organizations giving back. They make for great bookends to all the other stories about murders and scandals. Speaking of local…

5. Cause marketing can make even global brands feel like part of the local community.

In an age where ‘locally owned’ is a key selling point, demonstrating investment in the community is crucial for all brands, whether they be small or global.

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Target is one of the many organizations to embrace this opportunity: “Each year, we’ve given 5 percent of our profit to communities, which adds up to more than $4 million each week…Our team members give hundreds of thousands of hours volunteering in their communities every year.”

6. Cause marketing is a powerful way to motivate employees.

In his book Drive, Daniel Pink contrasts the effectiveness of intrinsic motivation vs extrinsic motivation. Examples of extrinsic motivators are paychecks and health benefits. They’re rewards for doing something you don’t really want to do. Intrinsic motivators, on the other hand, are natural desires people legitimately want to act on. Supporting a cause your employees are passionate about can make them proud to come to work; and when they’re motivated by more than just a paycheck, you might see better results and even a decrease in employee turnover.

7. Cause marketing is powerful because it lends itself to storytelling.

As humans, we love a good story. Heck, we even love bad stories. As Jeff Walker explains, stories cause people to lower their B.S. detectors, pay close attention, and engage emotionally. Many cause marketing campaigns lend themselves to storytelling. For example, they may focus on the story of how a brand helped a person, neighborhood, endangered species, or rainforest. For humans, that’s pure entertainment. They’ll gladly give you their attention and grow to like you as a result.

8. A cause marketing campaign helps users justify indulgent purchases.

We’re constantly trying to rationalize buying things we don’t really need. We think to ourselves…

“Well, it was on sale…”

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“I’ve had a hard week, and I need to relax.”

“They had my perfect size, so it was meant to be.”

Or…

“It’s for a good cause.”

That last one is a product of cause marketing. You can nudge people into buying what they already want to buy and limit buyer’s remorse by making it easy for them to rationalize their purchase decision. Toms is company that has done this very well, by promising to give away one pair of shoes for every pair they sell. This is one reason why my wife’s closet looks like a Tom’s warehouse exploded inside it.

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9. Cause marketing has the potential to become the rule, not the exception.

As more and more companies adopt or at least experiment with cause marketing, laggards could eventually run the risk of being perceived as disengaged or greedy. I’m in no way trying to scare people into prematurely experimenting with cause marketing, but I do encourage you to keep an eye on your competitors. You don’t want to become the only pet store that isn’t raising money to save homeless pets.

10. Cause marketing can sometimes be added to your current messaging fairly simply.

With the right partnerships and a minimum effective attitude, you can probably launch a cause marketing campaign without too much pain and toil. Just start small, treat it as an experiment, and let the results guide your decision making. If your cause marketing experiment is having an impact, consider upping your game. If not, maybe your campaign needs a tune up or perhaps cause marketing isn’t a good fit for your business. When evaluating your results, just remember to look beyond the money. Cause marketing can produce intangible benefits such as employee satisfaction, and that alone might be a reason to continue a campaign even if it doesn’t immediately produce a spike in revenue.

Featured photo credit: Sailors stand in a pink ribbon formation at sea./Official U.S. Navy Page via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 18, 2019

How to Sharpen Your Transferable Skills For a Swift Career Switch

How to Sharpen Your Transferable Skills For a Swift Career Switch

Most people grow up with dreams to go to college and graduate with high-paying job offers waiting for them the week after graduation. Others may favor non-traditional career paths. But the desire is the same: to find a job we love where compensation is commensurate with experience.

However, plans change. For instance, what started out as a dream to be a surgeon is cut short by a nasty injury and you’re debating how to transition into a new role. Or you might be facing being let go from your current employer and are anxious about “options out there.”

Whatever the case may be, switching careers can be intentional or unintentional. What matters is that you’re well-prepared, and the only way to do so is to learn new skills — hone in on your transferable skills.

Why Hone in on Your Transferable Skills?

There are several reasons you need to develop these skills if you want to go far in life and your career. In a nutshell, honing in your your transferable skills can lead to:

Better Job Offers

Continuous assessment and improvement of your skills widens the pool of job offers for you to make selections from. You’re no longer tethered to one industry as you’re able to lead your career by design, not by default.

People with transferable skills on a resume also open up opportunities for more potential employers.

Increase in Pay and More Responsibilities

You’ve heard the saying “with great power come great responsibility.” In your case, transferable skills make you more marketable to employers which could lead to pay raises.

Although this isn’t an automatic process– you have to be proactive about what you want in the marketplace, there is a chance that these pay raises will come with change in titles and roles.

A Shot at Entrepreneurship

Yes, changing career paths also includes the possibility of working for yourself. With these skills and work experience, you could live anywhere in the world and design a life and career you want.

We’ve talked about why you need to strengthen your transferable skills but what are some these skills, and how can you work on them?

13 Tips to Sharpen Your Transferable Skills

1. Update Your Resume

You might be surprised to know this but yes, updating your resume is a skill. The very first thing you should do while thinking about switching careers is to highlight attributes that make you very desirable candidate to employers.

Think about your volunteer experiences, freelance projects, and school projects. Although they might seem insignificant, they demonstrate your ability to deliver results that several companies are looking for.

While you might have held several positions since college, switching careers will require you to have a different type of resume.

There are three different types of resumes: functional, chronological, and a combination resume. However, if you are looking to switch careers you’ll want to have a functional resume. A functional resume is strengths-based that emphasizes skills that are transferable rather than a collection of dates and job titles.

2. Brush up on Your Communication Skills

Every attempt to get ahead in business and in life starts with the need to communicate effectively. Whether it is interpersonal, intercultural, or multi-generational, the ability to be seen and heard while respecting the boundaries of work relationship matters.

That’s why it’s one of the top skills you need to master. Strong communication skills allows you to effectively tailor your messages to specific audiences, which will make you a stronger asset to any organization.

To hone this skill:

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Pay attention to your listening skills. To communicate effectively, you need to first learn how to understand others.

Your ability to decode overt and implied messages, no matter how nuanced they are, is key to knowing how to foster deep relationships with others.

This article can also give you effective ways to enhance your communication skills:

How to Master Effective Communication Skills at Work and Home

3. Learn Technical (or Business) Writing

Another form of communication, writing, is a skill that can take you anywhere.

Companies communicate a lot through written memos, emails, newsletters, and other audio-visual means. But at the crux of this all is someone or some people who are tasked with translating the organization’s vision into statements anyone can understand.

To hone this skill:

Consider taking some free or paid classes online. You can accomplish this through several community colleges or online platforms like Lynda, Udemy or edX .

4. Practice Public Speaking and Presentation Skills

No matter how intelligent you are, no one will take you seriously if you’re unable to pull off a decent level of persuasion through presentation skills.

Most presentation can be done through either electronic devices or require your physical presence. Your chosen career may require you to be in front of several hundreds of people or you could be charged with developing materials for presentation.

To hone this skill:

Volunteer to lead projects that give you some responsibility for putting together presentations.

Also, try taking courses that will improve your public speaking skills if you feel lacking.

These tips on public speaking would be helpful too:

The Ultimate Public Speaking Tips to Hook and Impress Any Audience

5. Get Comfortable with Identifying Problems and Solutions

Every organization has got its problems no matter how greener the grass is on the other side.

How to hone this skill:

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Practice being resourceful.

Do you know where to find every company policy on the intranet in less than five minutes?

Think about a time you noticed some inefficiency at work and proposed a solution. Think about instances where you lent your voice to a cause which resulted in improved processes for your department.

No matter how small or inadequate you might feel, you’ve got some problem-solving skills that some organizations want.

If you look for more ways to improve your problem solving skills, take a look at this article:

6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills

6. Recognize Your Team-Building Ability

Your ability to smoothly switch careers also depends on how well you can energize your team, especially if you’re aiming for a leadership role. Unfortunately, team-building usually isn’t something you learn on the job in most careers unless you hold a managerial position.

The good thing is that you possibly know one or two things about team-building. Think back to moments in college when you had group projects with colleagues and had to work with 3 to 4 other strangers for months. Were you able to get past your differences and disagreements to focus on the uniqueness of everyone at the table?

Making a career switch might require that you work with multidisciplinary teams whether you have a deep knowledge of what the other team does or not. I can easily think of doctors, nurses, physical therapists, and social workers working closely to achieve the goals in a patient’s care plan.

How to hone this skill:

Look for collaborative projects and team building activities that excite you and challenge yourself with new possibilities.

Try some of these tactics to keep your team motivated as well:

17 Proven Tactics for Motivating Employees and Building a Stronger Team

7. Lean into Your Leadership Skills

Although similar to the previous point, leadership skills extend far beyond building teams, managing time sheets and correcting behavior.

What I’m referring to here is your ability to develop a vision, believe in it, and inspire buy-in from everyone involved. This isn’t about knowing how to run a particular machine; it’s about how to lead a team of people with various backgrounds, experiences, and ideas of how things should be done.

How to hone this skill:

Although more complex than the rest, it all starts with an introspective look into your strengths and weaknesses. Then get a mentor or a coach who can bring out your leadership qualities so you can operate from a place of strength.

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Learn more about the effective leadership types here:

5 Types of Leadership that Help You Build a High Performance Team

8. Improve Your Analytical Skills

Are you good at taking large amount of data and interpreting them? Your skills could come in handy.

Organizations are looking for people to make sense of the data around them, explain how it affects profitability, and make projections based on it. Best of all? You don’t need to be an accountant to be analytical.

How to hone this skill:

Try taking data interpretation classes online or at a community college. Learning Microsoft Excel or Access is also a plus. If you’re ambitious enough, you could consider getting additional certifications to up the ante.

Take a look at these ways to help sharpen your analytical skills:

What Are Analytical Skills and How to Strengthen Them For Success

9. Don’t Discount Your Time Management and Prioritization Skills

How good are you when it comes to deciding how important tasks are, organizing schedules, and coordinating plans?

Should you be willing, there is a market waiting for you out there. Organizations and busy executives are always looking for talented individuals to outsource these tasks to.

How to hone this skill:

Although not everyone possesses secretarial superpowers, you can improve this skill by focusing on taking huge tasks and breaking them into smaller goals or steps in order to achieve a bigger goal.

Here, you can learn to prioritize to achieve more:

The Ultimate Guide to Prioritizing Your Work And Life

10. Embrace Your Creative and Critical Thinking Side

Although it’s often believed that creativity is for the arts and right-brained people, I believe everyone is capable of being creative. In fact, most organizations recognize creativity as a vehicle that will drive successful inventions in the future.

How to hone this skill:

Try doing something fun. As simple as this sounds, you’d be surprised to learn how much. In fact, behavioral and learning scientist, Marily Oppezzo, says taking a walk might be all you need to get your creative juices flowing.[1]

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Anyone can be creative, you just need the right way to train your brain:

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

11. Don’t Stop Learning Tech Knowledge and Skills

Being tech-savvy is a huge plus. If you have an affinity with computers, software applications and are abreast of technological improvements, it is a transferable skill that is worth highlighting.

You don’t have to be a young college graduate with silicon valley dreams to work

How to hone this skill:

All you need is the determination and the readiness to learn. This article will give you some ideas on the types of skills to learn:

How to Improve Your Computer Skills to Get Ahead in Your Career

12. Build Networks and Relationships

You aren’t free from networking. Not at the moment. With your goal to switch to a different career, your networking skills will come in handy.

Fortunately for you, networking doesn’t have to be so hard.

How to hone this skill:

Attend conferences and job fairs. Chances are you already have people in your network you can move you closer to your dream career.

To enhance your networking skills, take these steps:

How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life

Final Thoughts

Although there are several people with the same qualification and degree(s) you possess, what ultimately determines hireability comes down to a myriad of things such as culture fit, how teachable you are, cultural sensitivity, inter-generational awareness, and your ability to navigate uncertainty.

You have a chance to stand out by letting your dream companies know how these soft skills make you an invaluable asset, and how saying ‘YES’ to you is a win-win for both parties.

Happy career switching!

More Resources About Career Advancement

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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