"Cause Related Marketing - lending a hand"How Cause-related marketing can grow your company and do good.

According to a report published by onPhilanthropy, cause marketing sponsorship by American businesses has been steadily rising over the years.

The potential benefits of cause marketing for nonprofit organizations include a wider audience in which to promote the nonprofit organization’s cause, increased accessibility of potential donors and supporters through a company’s customer base.

The potential benefits of cause marketing for businesses big or small include promoting your company in a positive way, improving your relationships with your current customer base, and attract your target audience using offline marketing tips and strategies to do so. Cause-related marketing can make your company stand out from your competitors and heighten your company’s reputation within your target market.

In the ook Brand Spirit: How Cause Related Marketing Builds Brands by Hamish Pringle and Marjorie Thompson the authors say: “Nothing builds brand loyalty among today’s increasingly skeptical, hard-to-please consumers like a proven commitment to a worthy cause on the part of a company.”

Some ways you can implement a cause marketing campaign include giving a portion of the profits of sales of a product to the cause. Companies have created programs to donate a percentage of their sales to a nonprofit organization through the use of auctions. You can align your company with a cause to brand your business as the official (name of industry) of (name of cause). You can adopt a program and get your staff involved to help implement your marketing efforts such as participating in an event hosted by the cause as a TEAM effort, donating time to mentor youth in the schools or community, giving blood, to name a few.

Think BIG ~ The Let’s say Thanks Campaign by Zerox created a way for individuals across the country to recognize U.S. troops stationed overseas. By submitting a message through the LetsSayThanks website you have the opportunity to send a free personalized postcard greeting to deployed servicemen and women.

Arrow, The Authentic American Brand created the “We are Ellis Island” campaign which ito raise money to restore dilapidated buildings on the south side of Ellis Island. Through association with Save Ellis Island, the Arrow brand is committed to preserving Ellis Island with the help of the National Park Service. Arrow launched the website www.WeAreEllisIsland.com for visitors to post their family stories, share inspiring stories of hope, courage and perseverance, all in the name of living out the great American dream. When you visit We Are Ellis Island you can read thes stories and donate money to the causes Arrow has committed to donate 1% of its 2008 wholesale sales to the project. To learn more about Arrow, visit www.arrowshirts.com.

Start small ~ You don’t have to be a BIG company to adopt a cause. Just look around your community to see what the needs are, what is missing, lacking or could use a little (or big) boost in support. Check with non-profits you believe in, with local chambers of commerce, business groups, niche groups, your trade associations, ask your vendors and customers for ideas. Find out who your target audience supports and see if it meshes with your values and your company’s mission. If so, you are on your way to getting out and doing good. And it is a great way to raise your profile in the eyes of the media. A local retailer could run a promotion donating a portion of the sales goes to support a local school project that is underfunded or donating your products to bring joy to less fortunate families in your communities during the holiday season.

One success leads to others and you can build upon those to get more creative and grandiose in your ideas and strategies. Cause-related marketing is not only good for business, it is good for the community. It is one of the most rewarding offline marketing ideas for any small business today. After all, America’s economy is fueled by small business and the companies we keep.