For the past several decades, more and more companies have engaged in what has come to be known as cause marketing. Generally speaking, cause marketing is a strategy whereby a company promises to donate a certain amount of money or goods to a charity or non-profit, if consumers purchase the company’s (or law firm’s) product or engage with their services. Before making such a promise, a company generally teams up with a charity or non-profit, forging a mutually beneficial relationship, through which the company (or law firm) can potentially increase profits and the charity can bring attention to its cause.
Sometimes, cause-related marketing occurs when a company uses social and environmental awareness in their marketing messaging, without entering into a relationship with a separate organization.
The Positive Effects of Cause Marketing
This type of marketing can help point potential clients in your direction. According to a recent study, nearly 87 percent of consumers say they are likely to switch brands (and in this case, firms) if a company (or firm) actively supports a charity. And 95 percent of students say that they are less likely to turn their attention away from advertisements involving companies (or firms) that are linked to charities or non-profits.
Where to Begin
When tackling this type of marketing, you might be overwhelmed with all kinds of questions: which cause is right for you? How do you go about integrating the cause into your daily practice? Is donating money the best way to engage in cause marketing?
The answers to these questions will depend on your particular firm and the resources at your disposal. To begin with, it is not necessary to donate money; that is just one common method that’s used. There are a multitude of other tactics you might be interested in. As it turns out, according to a global survey, 64 percent of consumers say that donating money is not enough anymore. People prefer that a company includes social causes in its daily practice.
To that end, you might want to find a cause that really harmonizes with your practice and to integrate the cause into your law firm’s ethos. If you do plan on working with a non-profit or charity, you might want to meet with them to better understand the issues at stake and how they pertain to your practice. The bottom line is this: choose an issue that you and your firm really care about.
Choosing the Right Cause
If you want to work with an organization, it’s probably a good idea to find a charity or non-profit that complements your practice and highlights the type of law you specialize in. For instance, if you represent clients in auto accident cases, you might want to propose a public service announcement bringing focus to distracted driving and the various risks associated with it.
And of course, if you practice environmental law, there are plenty of causes to rally behind and organizations to team up with. For instance, you might want to highlight the pervasive problem of contaminated groundwater and the work you’re doing to combat that issue. It certainly helps that, as a lawyer, you already actively engage with these problems through your work.
Cause marketing does carry some legal baggage. As observed by the National Law Review, you must be sure to comply with certain state laws requiring co-venture agreements between your firm and the charity you are teaming up with. Different states have different requirements, so be sure to research the various statutes and rules that pertain to cause-related marketing. These rules are in place to protect the public from unsavory business tactics, such as purposefully taking advantage of a person’s philanthropic proclivities. As a lawyer, you should also check your state Bar’s rules.
Other rules might include: a requirement to report your co-venture relationship to the state, mandated disclosures in your advertisements and mandatory binding contracts with your partner charity.
In 1999, a major corporation failed to comply with so-called consumer protection statutes. Yoplait’s parent company led the public to believe that they would donate 50 cents to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation for every foil cap returned to the company.
Millions of people followed through. Accordingly, over $4 million should have been donated to the cause. Little did people know that the company set a limit on donations, and stopped giving to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation after $100,000 had been donated. The company was forced to increase its contribution.
Luckily, as a legal professional, you are equipped to research state laws and to determine how they pertain to your venture.
In the end, cause marketing not only directs potential clients to your firm, it also puts you in touch with the world in a positive way.