Classic marketers tend to grow up in consumer products companies. Others cut their teeth in media and entertainment. Lately, tech marketing is an increasingly popular career launching ground. One commonality between the three is the need to drive brand preference. Whether it is soft drinks, the latest movie or a new smartphone, marketers attempt to shift brand preference. Cause marketing is different. These marketers face a tougher challenge as their success requires people to take action and participate in the campaigns themselves. As #GivingTuesday reminders clutter our inboxes and men shave off their Movember fuzz, let's celebrate the unique success factors for marketers who trying to prompt action for a cause.
The impact of cause marketing is global and significant. For the past month, hairy lipped men have helped raise awareness and more than $650 million for men's health. The ALS Ice Bucket challenge sparked over 17 million YouTube videos in just a few weeks. And, the pink ribbon has achieved almost universal association with breast cancer. Now, the people behind #GivingTuesday are trying to join Small Business Saturday, Black Friday and Cyber Monday holiday milestones. Realistically, anyone can raise money - particularly in the holiday season. What differentiates successful cause marketers is their ability to get their audience to change behavior and take visible action - from pouring ice water on their head to growing an often times awkward moustache. How do they do it? And what can other marketers learn?
Make it fun. Action marketers are tackling serious issues. For the past four weeks, Movember raised awareness to the fact that 3 out of every 4 suicides are men. While people frequently make solemn displays of support - flying a flag at half-staff or superimposing a French flag on a profile picture - these are mostly passive. Even joining #GivingTuesday is more passive than active. When success hinges on prompting demonstrative action, the hurdle becomes harder. To captivate an audience into becoming ambassadors for the cause, the most effective "asks" are those that make people smile, even when the cause is serious. No one wants to be a Debbie Downer focused on the negative. It is more comfortable for men to use their moustaches as a way to introduce health concerns than it is to discuss animal cruelty by referencing Sarah McLachlan's ASPCA ad. Even she finds it uncomfortable. To ignite participation, the "ask" has to be a bit playful.
Make it social. The benefit of social goes beyond hitting the viral jackpot. It is about bringing together people in support. When your daughter participates in Girls on the Run, it becomes a family affair where you and 160,000+ people come together to run like a girl. For Movember, men everywhere compare their moustaches to everyone from work colleagues to NBA stars. For something like #GivingTuesday, it takes more than catchy slogans. To achieve breakthrough success, campaigns to be a social hook. It could be as small as the "I voted" buttons worn on Election Day. Or, it can be over the top as wearing a red nose. Either way, success is found in getting people to share their participation.
Make it personal. Motivation is best when the source is pure and personal. Cause marketing is no different. Movember engages men as ambassadors for men's health but also offers a way for women to support throughout the month. Race for the Cure connects men, women and children with the personal cost of breast cancer by highlighting stories of survival that remind us of our own histories. Even local bike races and fun runs pull on their connection to the participants in a very personal way. When broad campaigns such as #GivingTuesday and #ShopSmall are successful, they extend their call to action to directly connect people with personal touchstones whether it is the local zoo or the local book store. The ability to make it personal ultimately drives meaningful participation.
The combination of fun, social and personal is powerful. Like any recipe, if there is too much of one ingredient, the result will be slightly off leaving a bad taste. Time will tell on which side of the palate #GivingTuesday will fall.