Cause Marketing for Small Businesses in Portland

Meredith Portland About The Author

Apr 6, 2021 9:30:00 AM

Cause Marketing for Small Businesses in Portland

Consumers relate better to businesses that share their passions and values. Affiliating your business communicates your values to customers while making the world a better place. It also helps to differentiate your brand, whether you’re in a highly competitive industry or you're a small business getting started in Portland. You’ll get the attention of consumers with similar values, and associate your name with initiatives, programs, and donations.

Key benefits of identifying with a mission and implementing cause marketing campaigns include:

  • Creating a deeper bond with like-minded consumers in your target market
  • Differentiating yourself from your competition
  • Opportunities to partner with local organizations 
  • Positive marketing that improves your brand reputation
  • Deeper, more meaningful customer interactions that build a community of buyers

Let’s explore how your business can create local, authentic cause-based campaigns that resonate with your audience. Diverse marketing messages and tactics help strengthen your brand and your company.

Ready to Build a Brand Your Customers Will Love?

What Is Cause Marketing?

Cause marketing is any marketing initiative undertaking the dual effort of increasing revenue and bettering society. Causes include social, environmental, legal, and safety causes. Some companies achieve this with separate but tangential initiatives where they'll promote a product and donate a portion of the profits, or they'll sponsor an event to spread their good name. 

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Other companies integrate their cause with their products, such as using green materials, staying locally sourced, or developing products or services intended to better society. Either marketing strategy can be successful and help fulfill your company's corporate social responsibility (CSR) goals.

How Are Large Companies Using Cause Marketing?

Large companies use two broad types of cause marketing strategies:

1. They affiliate their brand with a cause in the long term.

Using this approach makes their mission fundamental to the brand by building the brand around it. As an example, Patagonia clothing and outdoor gear are as well known for their social and environmental activism as their quality. They focus on consumer education, strive to source green and ethically produced materials, and pay 1% of their yearly profits to a Planet tax. Environmentalism and good business practices are built into the company culture, and sustainability is a large element of the brand.

2. They help with initiatives and disasters in the news.

Other companies with broader market appeal often focus on shorter campaigns that complement or showcase their brand. Proctor & Gamble's Dawn dish soap is well known for its ad campaigns tackling environmental disasters and oil spills. 

For years, they’ve run ads showing volunteers cleaning a wild animal with Dawn soap after an ecological disaster. These more cyclical and intermittent initiatives are genuine, but they're not a core aspect of the product.

Large companies can target national and international causes because they're national and international brands. Panera's partnership with large food banks and other initiatives are examples of cause marketing you can look for inspiration.

What Your Small Business Can Do to Compete

If you have a small business, your approach to cause marketing should be slightly different. You can still build your products and services around a core mission or associate your brand with positive campaigns on a smaller scale. 

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Use a narrower field of market research to determine which causes and campaigns resonate best with your local audience. If you're a small business, your target market is more likely to engage with you about local issues. Smaller, regional audiences also prioritize different environmental and social matters. Consider these simple but essential tips:

1. Keep It Local to Portland

If you have a local audience in Portland, keep your issues and initiatives local. It by no means limits what causes you can invest in. Your company can work with local nonprofits and charities, protect local reserves or sites, and even keep production local. Portland's EcoVibe company is well-known in the local markets for working with local environmental charities. Because their local audience can see the impacts of their cause marketing initiatives, those campaigns foster more engagement.

2. Be Genuine About Your Motives

Sincerity matters. Short-term sponsorships and offering insubstantial support for a cause may gain you short-term attention, but your audience will quickly become disillusioned. Before starting any cause marketing campaign, it's essential to make sure you have clear-cut and impactful goals in mind. 

It makes your marketing more persuasive and lets your target market evaluate your success and authenticity over time as they develop trust in you. Pepsi's infamous "Live for Now"  campaign failed because audiences didn't connect with it and didn't consider it authentic.

Partnering with a local nonprofit organization lets you create effective change without the upfront cost of starting your own initiative. You can use that to make the most of your marketing budget while achieving your goals.

Nonprofit-corporate partnerships are relationships between the two organizations based on a passion for a mutual cause. Your company would sponsor, assist in, or jointly create initiatives with the nonprofit. If a reputable nonprofit partners with you, that indicates to their audience that you're a trustworthy brand. It also helps your organization drive real change, especially if you're unsure how to make the most significant impact.

Foster Goodwill for Your Brand With Local Cause Marketing

Local cause marketing is an excellent tool for connecting with consumers in your target market and driving positive change in your community. Whether you work alongside local organizations, build initiatives into your company culture, or donate profits to fundamental matters, it's essential to focus on authentic betterment while still increasing profits. Cause marketing in Portland makes your company members of the community in a way that traditional marketing can't do alone.

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