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VOL. 42 | NO. 7 | Friday, February 16, 2018

Be careful in aligning your advertising with issues

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Many businesses use socially and civically conscious marketing to both demonstrate their commitment to causes and connect with consumers who share similar interests.

This form of marketing often involves participation in commemoration campaigns for specific, historically significant moments.

Commemorations offer a chance for people to publicly come together to honor the accomplishments and sacrifices by those who came before us and to take stock of modern-day opportunities to continue to advance the cause.

Just a few examples of these national commemoration campaigns are Black History Month in February, Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day in March, the 9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance in September and Veterans Day in November.

Uniquely in 2018, “MLK 50” is also upon us – the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and a call to advance the humanitarian causes he stood for. Memphis and the National Civil Rights Museum are the hub of this activity, a significant historical moment for local organizations and residents.

Commemorations can be excellent additions to broader cause-marketing strategies. However, cause-marketing experts agree: the broader strategy is the key to credible involvement that genuinely connects the company and its employees with like-minded individuals.

Here are four tips for establishing and maintaining credibility in cause marketing:

Align with causes on which your company can have a direct and sustainable impact

As the saying goes, with adversity comes great opportunity. With no shortage of worthy social and civic causes today, prioritization and alignment with your core business interests translate into scalability. Scale, of course, is important to moving the needle on impact.

Be authentic to the cause

Highlight the ways you’re living the cause inside your business and your community throughout the year, outside of commemoration moments. Need ideas in this area? Organizers of commemorations can be a good resource to learn from and draft an action plan to authentically make a difference.

Seek input

When preparing messaging and materials for any social or civic cause, be sure to allow enough time to thoroughly plan ahead for your participation.

For example, ask people outside your company if they see any unintended consequences with a new tagline or if your campaign inadvertently uses stereotypes. We can all benefit from checking with others to make sure our messages will be received positively as we intend.

Partner with the experts

If you have a nonprofit partner, Forbes contributor Steve Olenski suggests letting them “take the lead.” Rely on their expertise to hone in on best ways to reach your intended community.

Nonprofits are also highly connected, so even if you’re working with a group focused on environmental issues, for example, they probably know who could help you promote girls in science if that’s a good fit for your company.

Leslie Graff, marketing strategist at RedRover Sales & Marketing Strategy, can be reached at www.redrovercompany.com.

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