During COVID-19, many consumers are looking to brands, especially familiar brands, for comfort and assistance. Not only do they want the familiarity of engaging with the same brands they have always used, but they may also need support from their brands: from the steps you take to help keep them safe and decrease the risk of illness to more tangible support within the community.
Cause marketing can help raise brand awareness in a way that breaks through the noise of other companies' marketing efforts.
What is Cause Marketing?
Cause marketing is marketing done with a purpose: marketing that goes beyond simply spreading the word about your business to provide support that aids the community in some way. Throughout COVID-19, many businesses have chosen to engage in cause marketing, both to raise awareness about their business and what they can offer and as a way to aid their communities.
Burger King, for example, is offering free kids' meals with the purchase of an adult meal to help aid parents struggling to feed their families in the midst of the crisis. College HUNKS is offering free moving services to domestic violence victims who need to move out in the midst of the crisis. Many distilleries across the United States have shifted their manufacturing processes to provide hand sanitizer to their local communities--and many of them are offering donations to their local hospitals.
Some cause marketing opportunities can carry a significant cost to your company. Others, however, can be as low-investment as sending a comforting email to the people who need them most.
You can do anything from producing materials actively needed in your community to starting your own charity drive. Whatever strategy you use, however, keep in mind that successful cause marketing always increases brand equity by boosting loyalty. In the midst of a crisis, people are looking for ways to support companies that are making a difference.
Raising Awareness Through Cause Marketing
Increasing brand equity in the eyes of existing prospects is not the same as increasing overall brand awareness. Cause marketing only increases brand awareness among new prospects if it can stand out.
Many local clothing companies shifted to mask production during the crisis, but if most of them made that transition, any particular one might not stand out in your mind--and it won't stand out in your customers', either. If you want to increase brand awareness among people who are not already customers of your business, your efforts need to either:
- Get news coverage, which will help get your brand's name out there and share information about it with a wide group of people in your geographic area.
- Be highly shareable: something that makes a big difference in your community or tugs at your customers' heartstrings.
If you aren't raising that level of awareness on your own, consider partnering with another company or a nonprofit. Reach out to a company in your local community, big or small, that's already making a difference or that you believe could make a substantial difference in partnership with your business.
Work together to increase your efforts, which can, in turn, create wider awareness of the contributions you've made during this time. You will also get exposure to the other company's fans, which means access to new prospects.
Advertising to reach new potential customers is less effective when many people's spending is hampered by fears related to COVID-19. Many people are cutting back on overall spending in an effort to reduce their expenses or save money where they can. This is, however, the perfect time to instead focus on building brand equity and awareness. Once conditions improve, you will already have a loyal following ready to start making purchases from your brand.
Want to learn how to engage your community with cause marketing? Check out How to Leverage Cause Marketing to Maximize Community Engagement to discover how you can enhance your brand position.