In October 1985, the American Cancer Society in partnership with a pharmaceutical company founded the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which would happen in October annually. The goal was to increase awareness of the disease and raise money for research into finding a cure, better treatment, early detection and more. From that early beginning, thousands of charities and for-profits have since contributed to making the month of October a global support of breast cancer awareness, with the iconic pink ribbon recognizable the world over as a symbol for the cause.
It is truly admirable to support and be passionate about a good cause, whether your business is a non-profit or a for-profit. However, simply being passionate about your cause is not always enough to get the support you need. It is essential that as a business, you learn how to market your cause effectively. Here are some key steps that can help you achieve this.
1. Have a plan – It is always important to have a detailed marketing plan before executing any marketing strategy and marketing a cause is no different. You must outline your goal, audience, objectives, strategy and tactics, budget, timeline and more. A well constructed and clearly outlined plan serves as a roadmap for successfully marketing your cause.
2. Keep Your Message Simple & Direct – Having a muddled and confused message that tries to include too many things at once increases the risk of no one understanding what it is you are trying to achieve and not being interested. Having an excellent marketing plan to start will help in this regard. Your plan should have a specific goal and knowing exactly what your goal is will be a strong asset in helping you define your message in a simple and direct manner.
3. Be Authentic & Credible – This should go without saying but it is extremely important that people believe you are honest and sincere in your efforts; otherwise it is unlikely they will support the cause. The quickest way for a cause to fall apart is for individuals to think you are untrustworthy. This also refers to facts and figures. Don’t exaggerate statistics or the issue to gain support.
4. Leverage Social Media (The Right Way) – It’s virtually impossible to avoid social media today and the fact is if utilized in the right way it can be a very effective marketing tool at a fairly low cost. The key, of course, is to use it in the right way. Like most marketing channels, each social media channel has its own pros and cons, demographics, etc. Understanding these differences will help you to better utilize each in the right way to achieve your ultimate goal.
5. Don’t Ignore Traditional Media – We’ve probably all heard the refrain that print is dead. With the advent of the Internet and proliferation of smartphones today, that certainly seems to be the case to some. However, that belief is a fallacy. Traditional media is still a very effective marketing tool, especially depending on the type of audience you are trying to reach. Press releases, radio and television media interviews, for example, are all still very effective methods of getting the word out about your cause.
6. Have a Great Website – This is an absolute must. While social media is great, it is not enough. A well designed and thorough website is a great hub for posting all the information anyone will need to know about your cause and organization. It is a great resource for posting press and media related materials, news, call to action, organization background, blog articles, photos, videos and so much more.
7. Align With a Compatible Organization – Partnering with a more recognizable and profitable organization can increase the credibility and brand recognition of your cause, as well as increase your audience sometimes exponentially. The key here is that the partnership is a right fit.
8. Brand Your Cause – While increasing awareness is often a major factor for most causes, ultimately the end goal is to receive donations and funding. In other words, like any organization, you want to make money. Therefore it is important to treat your cause like an organization and like an organization, you need successful branding. Yes, breast cancer awareness by itself is a very important cause. However, we cannot deny that it is today a brand, particularly with the co-opting of the color pink and especially the pink ribbon. When anyone sees that pink ribbon symbol, they instantly know what it means and what it is for. That kind of top of the mind awareness is invaluable.
9. Create Engaging & Shareable Worthy Content – You cannot have a great social media presence, without great content. You cannot have a great website without great content and you cannot have a strong traditional media presence, without great content. Simply put, you cannot successfully market your cause, without great content. The point is to get people’s attention, get them to care and want to help and the way to do that is through engaging and effective content. This includes everything from videos, photos, infographics, case studies, testimonials, press releases, etc.