This is NOT Cause Marketing
The Walmart Foundation is writing fat checks – to the tune of $25M in a five-year commitment to disaster preparation and recovery. Will this help perception of the Walmart brand?
This announcement, timed to coincide with the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, included $100,000 grants to Gulf Coast nonprofits like Evacuteer, a group that maintains evacuation locations; St. Bernard Project, a training program for mitigating the risks of disasters; and Way Maker Ministries, a faith based disaster preparedness and survival training program.
Does that change how you perceive Walmart’s brand?
In their defense, during the recovery from Hurricane Katrina, Walmart did use its vast logistics and transportation network to get food and supplies to victims much faster FEMA. That was 10 years ago. Since then,they’ve been embroiled in controversies over employee wages and benefits, discrimination, environmental and business practices, and a litany of other wrong-doings.
Perception of the Walmart brand is not likely to recover from writing a fat check that most of their customer base will never even know about. Nor will your signature alone help your brand. Why? Because it fails the ABC test – the three minimum requirements for effective cause marketing.
The ABCs of Cause Marketing
Giving must be in your DNA. Creating a culture of generosity has to permeate your business from the inside out and from the top down. It starts with leadership that is truly committed to something bigger than profit margins and requires effective communication with and engagement of the rest of your organization. It may take a megaphone, but it has to come from the heart!
If your own people don’t support you, no one else will either. Actively engaging your organization in a hands-on effort demonstrates a true commitment to your cause and ingrains generosity in your corporate culture. It contributes to organizational health by increasing employee morale, unity, and retention. When your employees share a common cause that is meaningful to them, they will become ambassadors that joyfully share your company’s brand in the most positive light. This quickly finds it way to your customer base and to the press, where earned coverage will vastly outperform a paid for press release. Don’t be Amazon!
Inviting customers to actively participate with you in supporting a cause you both care about creates an emotional connection that results in brand loyalty. They will not only support your mission with future purchases, they will gladly share this connection exponentially expanding your audience. Your best salespeople are not on your payroll!
Before You Write Another Check
If you are like most businesses, you are frequently approached to support charities, local baseball leagues, school fundraisers, and any number of other groups in need. This can be a drain and it’s easy to say, “just write a check.” It gives you the warm fuzzy feeling of having helped someone and might get you a nice little plaque for your wall, but it does little to create business growth. I’m not suggesting you quit supporting your local little league, but make it work for your business. Before you write another check, create a strategic cause-based business growth plan that is heartfelt, engages your people, and creates loyalty and advocacy.