First, let me apologize for leaving the blog unattended for a few days. My brother came home for his last leave before he deploys to Iraq for his second tour. Let me also digress a moment and tell you that we had one of the most awesome experiences when he arrived. Mr. Ross Perot met us at my office and spent an hour with us in his office. He walked us through his personal collection of paintings and memorabilia. Many of you probably know about Mr. Perot’s involvement with the military – rescuing POWs and finding medical treatment for wounded soldiers. His efforts are still going strong. He is selling most of his original artwork (replacing them with prints) and putting the proceeds towards his non-profit foundation. He is a genuine individual. It was an absolutely amazing experience that neither of us will forget.
I’m always amazed – and touched – when people want to unselfishly give to those who are in need, those who serve or those that just need a helping hand. Today, I received an interesting email from Ritz-Carlton Hotels announcing their “Volunteaming” offering. If you book a meeting at The Ritz, they can help you arrange a community volunteering project for your team. Activities range from harvesting organic crops for The Chef’s Garden, to building habitats for the animals at The Big Cat Habitat. Volunteaming is the latest program launched by The Ritz-Carlton’s social and environmental program, Community Footprints.
This type of program is also referred to as “Cause Marketing.” Wikipedia defines cause marketing as the “cooperative efforts of a ‘for profit’ business and a non-profit organization for mutual benefit. It goes on to explain that cause marketing differs from philanthropy and corporate giving, because cause marketing is relationship-based, not donation-based.
Isn’t this the heart of social marketing? Actually *gulp* interacting with society? And, yes, even I will admit that not everything has to be done online. This is the real touchy-feely aspect of helping your community.
The bonafide marketing genius, Marta Kagan, found some really interesting stats about cause marketing. For instance, 87% of Americans are likely to switch brands if another product is associated with a good cause. And, over 75% of respondents would refuse to invest in the company’s stock or refuse to work for them because of their negative responsibility practices.
It’s worth getting the word out about your community-based projects. More importantly, it’s worth getting your community involved in the project. I’ll be the first to admit that my company doesn’t promote their efforts enough. OK, time for a shameless plug…At a recent healthcare trade show, we asked participants to help paint a 6’x4′ paint-by-color painting. Typically, you have to hire “booth babes” and give away $2 stress balls to get people to come talk to you at these shows. But, traffic was awesome at our booth, because we offered something innovative, creative, interactive and FUN! After the conference, the paintings were donated to Vanderbilt Medical Center. The art program tied the conference theme to our core values – and, involved the community as a whole.
How have you used socially responsible marketing at your company?