Businesses with a clear purpose perform better and are more likely to succeed. A business’s purpose should serve as the hub of its ideation -- in other words, every decision a company makes should be an extension and affirmation of its purpose. Having a sense of purpose allows a business to better navigate its challenges, often providing clear solutions in even the most trying of times.
Plus, purpose-driven businesses have a great marketing advantage -- they are more likely to engage consumers. Tailoring specific cause marketing campaigns to your business' consumers can be an effective form of consumer outreach, as well as a means of evangelizing for your business purpose. For example, my company SkyInk Studios specializes in creating interactive book apps and enhanced e-books for various mobile and e-reader platforms including the iPad, Kindle and Nook -- so we have launched a campaign to bring iPads and digital learning to the third world. Because new generations of tablets and e-readers are developed so frequently, many people have little use for their old devices. We are providing a vehicle for these devices to be given a second life. One iPad can redefine the way children learn and connect to the world.
In addition to our third-world education initiatives, we are also developing an interactive book app for kids about Lyme disease, the country's fastest growing infectious disease. All proceeds from book sales will go to Lyme research and outreach. This cause bears personal relevance to me, as I am afflicted with chronic Lyme disease, and using my business as a vehicle of outreach has helped to transmute my distress about the disease into a true sense of purpose. Our efforts are focused on preventive education as well as lifestyle management for those who are afflicted, and we have found that using a fun and engaging form of outreach has greater resonance with children.
When planning your own cause marketing campaign, these 5 tips can help increase your chances of success:
- Be authentic. Consumers are quickly fatigued by disingenuous companies and hollow claims. If you are partnering with a charity organization for your campaign, find a cause that has personal relevance or that serves as an organic alignment to the brand. Consumers recognize authenticity, and can spot campaigns that don't have it.
- Allocate charity benefits. Allocating a percentage of sales from a product to charity is a simple and effective way to set up your cause marketing campaign. The campaign can operate for a specified period of time, or can serve as a permanent campaign. In addition to our various campaigns, we have a permanent profit-share model. SkyInk dedicates 5 percent of its annual sales to various charitable efforts. Because we develop a great deal of children’s material, we are designing programs that focus on education and the needs of children, particularly in developing countries where access to clean water, food and education is restricted.
- Create branded products. Create T-shirts, hats and other articles to promote your campaign. Sales from such items can then be directed to partner organizations. Physical items such as T-shirts are also a means of furthering the campaign’s message and gaining exposure, and allows the consumer to engage with your brand and feel like they're part of the cause.
- Host events. Events help declare the message of the campaign and attract focus to it. Events can come in many guises, including parties, educational seminars, festivals and concerts. However, defining and planning a successful event depends on the nature of the campaign. SkyInk is hosting an upcoming launch party for a series of new book app releases including our Lyme disease book. The event will provide a platform for education about Lyme disease.
- Distribute press releases. Marketing campaigns provide opportunity for press and greater company exposure. When a cause campaign is launched, follow it with a press release to local media (or national, if relevant) concerning the campaign. It may even be appropriate to schedule a press conference highlighting the campaign, its purpose and associated products.
Arthur Ebeling is the founder and CEO of SkyInk Studios He was a Top 6 Global Finalist in the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (2008) and was named the SBA Young Entrepreneur of the Year in West Virginia (2011). He was recently named to the Empact100 list, a compilation of America's top business leaders under 30. Ebeling has been featured through CNN, AOL News, Success and Entrepreneur Magazine.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.