Cause Marketing Does Good in More Ways Than One

Restaurant companies increasingly are turning to cause-marketing initiatives to drive consumer interest and increase brand awareness, as evidenced in a recent Nation’s Restaurant Newsarticle titled “Saluting The Troops.” Many restaurant chains, it notes, celebrated Memorial Day and Military Appreciation Month to express their appreciation to members of the nation’s armed forces.

In addition to efforts from quick-service chains such as White Castle or buffet chain Golden Corral, full-service restaurants have led many cause-marketing initiatives. For example:

  • Bennigan’s pledged $1 from a beer military tribute sale to Operation Homefront, which benefits military families and sends care packages to soldiers deployed overseas.
  • Hooters offered 10 free chicken wings to military personnel, raising money for The Valentine Fund and Operation Homefront, and shipping more than 150,000 Hooters Girls calendars to troops.

  • Customers at more than 1,900 Applebee’s restaurants wrote more than 101,000 thank-you cards to veterans. Applebee’s then delivered them May 1 to the headquarters of Disabled American Veterans, as part of its systemwide Thank You Movement.

Cause marketing has a wide range of potential benefits, such as enhancing a company’s image and visibility and developing closer relationships with current and prospective customers. In addition, it helps differentiate the company from competitors and showcase the brand’s products and services, while also helping the brand compete against bigger companies with larger advertising budgets. And, especially important, it gives employees a reason to be proud of the company, which increases loyalty.

If your company is thinking about diving into cause marketing ask these key questions, as outlined by Network for Good.

  1. Suitability: Does the cause connection to your brand make sense in the mind of your consumer?
    - Consumers must see a legitimate connection between the product brand and the cause tie-in.
  2. Authenticity: Does the cause fit with your corporate identity?
    - Like suitability, authenticity speaks to how your company demonstrates the values inherent in a cause or social responsibility program.
  3. Transparency: Is it clear how your company is supporting the cause?
    - You have to disclose how much, how it will be delivered and over what timeframe.
  4. Selling Point: What value can you add that extends and supplements the cause tie-in?
    - Consumers still want product value for their money.
    - So what value proposition can you offer them?

Before you begin a cause marketing campaign, follow this social good checklist, also from Network for Good.

Step 1: Cover the Basics

  • Why develop a cause marketing campaign? What are your goals?
  • Who is the campaign audience and what action do you want them to take?

Step 2: Frame the Campaign

  • Can you communicate the social benefit?
  • Can you link the social benefit to your brand or business offering?

Step 3: Get People to Act

  • Should you provide incentives and make it easy to participate?
  • Are you inviting your audience to a conversation via social media?

Step 4: Build on Momentum

  • Will you give interim rewards?
  • Will you provide social proof?
  • Can you tell your story?

Step 5: Be Prepared for Times of Disaster

  • Have you addressed the response needs of your customers and employees?
  • Can you communicate appropriately with customers and employees?

Cause marketing is an effective way to build positive brand awareness and strengthen customer loyalty and employee pride. Increases in brand and customer loyalty can lead to increases in sales and the bottom line. So consider a good cause as you develop your marketing plan—it’s good in more ways than one.