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11.06.2012 - 09:35AM
Philanthropy & Corporate Contributions
Everyone knows the adage – Better to Give than Receive. Actually, if you are a consumer brand facing the upcoming important Holiday sales season it is Better to Give THEN Receive.
On Black Friday, brands drive high sales volume through discounts. But are the bargain-hunters likely to be loyal customers of those brands the other 364 days of the year? What if you connected with your consumers again four days later this year and focused on building a positive experience with them centered on giving rather than selling? How would it change your interactions during the holidays, your long term relationship with the consumer, and their desire to spread their positive impressions of your brand?
Enter Giving Tuesday.
Giving Tuesday, coming November 27th, was conceived to bring the heart back into the biggest shopping season of the year – to tap into the universal desire to help those in need, and to connect individuals, companies, and non-profits through giving. The thing is, consumers do care about social issues, especially during the holidays and, per the Cone Cause Evolution Study, are nearly twice as likely to buy from a company that supports a cause they care about. So companies are giving back and increasing cause marketing spending. The problem is that customers often don’t know or understand what the companies are doing and certainly aren’t thinking about it on Black Friday, so their holiday buying isn’t significantly affected by it.
Giving Tuesday offers an opportunity to do good, drive sales, and create a solid foundation for your long term relationships with your customers. It cuts through the noise of the season and anchors your brand to something that will be remembered and talked about for years to come.
A powerful exampleIn 1984, before the days of cause marketing as we know it, a group of musical artists came together and created a song called "Do They Know It's Christmas?" to raise money for Ethiopian famine relief. Though the group’s name Band Aid was new, the artists were well known and the song became the biggest selling single in UK Singles Chart history and #1 on U.S. charts. The song still plays on the radio every holiday season and was even re-released on a Starbucks Holiday (RED) CD several years back. The following year, another group of artists called USA for Africa recorded “We Are the World" which raised $63 million for humanitarian aid to Africa.
This was over a quarter century ago when my friends and I were teenagers absorbed in our own worlds. I don’t remember what I got for Christmas those years. But I do remember Bono, Phil Collins, James Taylor, Michael Jackson… Lionel Richie, Stevie Wonder, Cindi Lauper, and Willie Nelson. I clearly recall the tunes, the lyrics, what I learned from them and the feeling they produced. They shifted the way I thought about the holiday season through their message. I bought the records and talked about them with my friends. And the media praised them far and wide. Since then, I’ve paid particular attention to those artists’ causes and music – not just a passing fan but a committed one.
Why were my peers and I so affected by these songs and for so long? An easy answer could be that the singers were stars who did something good. But a lot of stars have supported causes in very forgettable ways. Band Aid and USA for Africa did more than just write a check. They invested significant time, resources and talents. They engaged us all in it – in understanding the suffering in Ethiopia and Africa, in doing something to help, and in feeling good about it. And they did something different, that no artists had thought of before, by coming together to create these songs.
Lessons for marketersThe problem brands face in cause marketing is that it too often greatly benefits causes but does very little good for business. Often the brand’s cause or program feels good, is what they’ve done before, and has been generally well received but still doesn’t directly drive revenue in a way that can be measured. If your cause marketing isn’t capturing your consumers’ hearts and brains in a way that they’ll remember in 20 years then it isn’t doing all it can for your brand.
Powerless cause marketing is often due to one or more of the following:
For any of these reasons, wonderful cause giving programs can do little to move the needle for the business.
Giving Tuesday offers marketers the opportunity stand out in a way that reaches both the wallets and hearts of their customers by trying something different and applying the lessons of these 80s artists.
I’m deeply hopeful that a few companies will do something big, defining Giving Tuesday in a way that makes it good for the world and good for business – so the concept catches on and becomes entrenched in the season the way Black Friday has. In 20 years, when the world looks back on the first Giving Tuesday, any immediate associations could include certain companies’ programs with the same affection with which my generation remembers “Feed the World.” I’ll vote with my wallet for those companies.
For ideas, contact me @LynleySides or firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll answer you!
About the Author:Lynley Sides, serial entrepreneur and CEO of The Glue Network was recognized as one of "15 Founders & CEOs to Watch" in Women 2.0 and believes social good can and should improve business performance. The Glue Network platform enables companies of all sizes to drive powerful marketing results through giving. Companies use the Glue platform or gift card program to change lives around the world for the better and receive deep consumer loyalty, millions of authentic social media recommendations, clicks, revenue and data, while building a reputation for social responsibility.
Contact: @LynleySides or email@example.com.
This commentary is written by a valued member of the CSRwire contributing writers' community and expresses this author's views alone.
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