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March 30, 2007

Cause for Concern

Posted by Brad Abare | Filed under: Research

Cause for ConcernToday, during our weekly Brown Bag Lunch, I shared from the book Cause for Concern by Stephen M. Adler. I've been reading it off and on for the last couple months, and finally finished it last week. I was slightly bored through most of the pages--but I pressed on--mainly because I wanted to see if there was anything to learn from Adler. After all, he started an agency "nearly 20 years ago with the vision of creating mutually beneficial strategic partnerships between nonprofit organizations and corporations through integrated cause marketing partnerships."

Adler has accomplished a lot through his years of connecting companies and non-profits. From his work with the American Heart Association and Susan G. Komen for the Cure (formerly Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation) to Subway and BMW, Adler is no stranger to the world of cause marketing.

Cause for Concern is a great primer if you're new to the world of cause marketing. It's along the lines of Jocelyne Daw's book Cause Marketing for Nonprofits, but more from the view of the for profit.

Consider a few takeaways:

1. The future favors the employee.
It will be an employee's market when it comes to finding the job they want. In 2008, there could be 5-6 million more jobs than employees, 7-10 million by 2010, and 21-40 million by 2015. Timberland gives 40 hours a year (paid) for employees to participate in one of the causes that Timberland is supporting. Home Depot has to hire 2,000 workers a week--they say their involvement in the community helps them find the right people who connect with the values of Home Depot.

2. Six reasons companies choose to benefit from cause marketing:

  • Image problem (better reputation with CM)

  • Hyper competition (differentiation, competitive advantage with CM)

  • Inefficient access to markets (leverage non profit partner--go after niches)

  • Poor branding (effective brand placement with CM)

  • Customer retention (customer loyalty)

  • Employee turnover (employee loyalty)

3. Finding win/win partnerships

  • Align the cultures

  • Identify the differences (no surprises!)

  • Get to know each other

  • Set clear expectations

  • Create an internal team (identify the link leader)

  • Develop communication strategies

  • Set benchmarks (measures for success)

With the exception of the last two chapters, the whole book could easily be skimmed and you'll get an idea of what cause marketing is, how it works and why organizations do it.

The last two chapters of the book are really where the gold is. Adler has developed a "Monitor and Index" (chapter 12) as well as an "Action Plan" (chapter 13) that are both very insightful. The Monitor and Index is an analytics tool to evaluate and measure potential partnerships. The Action Plan outlines seven action items for establishing a cause marketing relationship.

The application for Personality™ comes in three forms:

  • Test Adler's Monitor and Index process to see it if works.
  • The importance of the Personality™ Profile is key to cause marketing relationships.
  • Continue tweaking and testing our own process for matching organizations.

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