Many people trace the beginning of cause marketing back to 1976, when Marriott Corporation partnered with the March of Dimes to promote the hotel chain and raise money for a worthy cause. Now, Marriott is far from the only brand to engage in cause marketing.

Today’s consumers demand that brands take a strong stance on societal issues. Brands that choose to align themselves with social causes can often win over younger consumers based on this partnership alone. In fact, it has been reported that 85% of Gen Z consumers trust brands more if they support important social causes. Other studies have shown that if the quality and price of two products is equal, consumers look at a brand’s stance on social issues when deciding which one to purchase. Based on this data, it’s clear that brands have every reason to dive into cause marketing.

There are countless ways for brands to launch a cause marketing initiative, including by hosting an experiential marketing event. Here’s how to incorporate your cause into your next event:

Choose A Meaningful Cause

Brands should never choose a cause at random when venturing into cause marketing for the first time. The key to making this strategy successful is aligning your brand with a cause that the company actually believes in and supports. If your employees support the cause, they will be proud to work for a company that supports it, and their hard work will eventually lead to the brand’s success. Furthermore, if the company supports the cause, it’s very likely that the company’s target audience does as well. Your target audience will want to support your efforts by attending your experiential marketing event if they believe in the cause that you support.

Connect the Cause to the Brand

The cause should also relate to your brand in some way. It doesn’t need to be an obvious connection, either. For example, many consumers wondered why Jefferson’s Bourbon chose to donate a portion of its proceeds to Ocearch, a non-profit research organization that aims to protect the oceans. However, the company revealed that it routinely strapped barrels of bourbon to one of Ocearch’s vessels in order to keep the liquid rotating against the barrels’ wood for a long period of time. The more contact the bourbon has with the wood, the deeper the flavor. This is an unexpected and unusual connection between the cause and brand, but it’s a connection nonetheless.

Do More Than Donate

A lot of companies choose to donate a percentage of their proceeds or profits to non-profit organizations as part of their cause marketing campaign. Although it is generous for companies to financially contribute to the cause of their choice, it is important to do more than just donate. According to a recent survey, approximately 64% of consumers believe that it is not enough to simply donate to non-profit organizations. These consumers demand that companies do more by raising awareness so they can educate the public on the importance of the cause.

Keep this in mind when planning how to incorporate your cause into your next experiential marketing event. It’s not enough to advertise that the proceeds from the event will go to a specific non-profit organization. You must also plan on dedicating a portion of the event to educating guests on the non-profit organization’s work.

Consider the Timing

Timing is an important factor to consider when planning an experiential marketing event to honor a specific cause. Marketers must ask themselves what causes are probably on consumers’ minds. One brand that definitely considered the timing when launching a cause marketing strategy is Maker’s Mark. This company established a partnership with One Warm Coat, which is a non-profit organization that provides free winter clothing to people in need. Together, the two companies hosted multiple events and encouraged people to donate old winter clothing so they could be given to those in need. The events were a huge success, partly due to the fact that they took place during the holiday season. During this time of the year, people are more concerned about giving back to the community and ensuring that the needy have the tools they need to stay comfortable in the winter. It’s very likely that the campaign would not have been a success if it took place in the summer, when winter clothing is the last thing on people’s minds.

Don’t Be Afraid of Humor

Fighting social injustice and promoting important social causes is no laughing matter. However, this does not mean that companies must take a humorless approach to their cause marketing campaign. Sometimes, injecting humor into the partnership is the best way to speak to your target audience.

Take a look at the Dumb Ways to Die campaign, which was created by a group of Melbourne citizens and the Metro Train System in Melbourne. The goal of this partnership was to teach children how to stay safe around the trains in Melbourne. Instead of launching boring instructional videos, the team decided to realize funny, animated videos that showed children the dumbest ways to die. Children—and adults—got a laugh out of the videos that taught people of all ages how to avoid getting hurt while near the train tracks. The campaign also included interactive games and stylish merchandise that featured the same funny characters found in the videos. If the team had not decided to take a funny approach to this cause, it’s possible that the campaign would have flopped. But, they bravely decided to make light of a very serious situation in order to get their point across, and it worked better than they could have imagined.

Are you interested in incorporating cause marketing into your next experiential marketing event? If so, talk to the experts at Factory 360. Our team of marketing professionals can guide your brand through the process of planning and hosting an experiential marketing event that is designed to reach your goals and leave a lasting impression on your audience!

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