Now more than ever, brands are joining in the efforts of giving back and providing assistance during the COVID-19 crisis. Top companies use values-led marketing to help local communities, frontline healthcare workers, and others by shifting the focus from their product to the common good.
Most people have moved from initial shock to come to grips with the current situation. In this phase, research shows consumers are looking for less distraction and more support and action from brands. They expect companies to make an impact – not just catchy hashtags.
Values-driven marketing, also known as purpose-led marketing or cause marketing, can help you take action in a variety of forms: a donation or fundraiser, messages of positivity or awareness on social media, or a call to action for your audience to push change in their community.
When done thoughtfully, values-driven marketing can produce great results, both for the cause you’re supporting and for your own brand equity. Here are four best practices, along with some missteps brands should avoid.
1. Develop a game plan
Brands should live the values of their organization in everything they do — especially in times of crisis. Consider your company’s existing mission and build out your campaign to reflect that mission. Start by writing a V2MOM (Vision, Values, Methods, Obstacles, and Measures) that outlines your goals and how you and your team will accomplish them.
Hallmark strives to build a more emotionally connected world. With their #CareEnough campaign, Hallmark puts its mission into action by sending out free gratitude cards to help all of us express gratitude to those on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis. Recognition and encouragement can go a long way in trying times, and Hallmark is the perfect partner to help us say thanks.
2. Align your company’s leadership team
We all look to community leaders in uncertain times. Your company’s leadership should set an example and serve as an extension of your brand communications and values. Ensure your most prominent executives’ advocate for the cause your company is supporting on social media and elsewhere. Consistent messaging is key.
Salesforce matches donations to World Central Kitchen to help feed those in need during the COVID-19 crisis. To help spread the word, our top executives and employees worldwide highlight the fundraiser on social media and donate their own funds to be matched. With your leadership team on board, you can make even more of a difference.
3. Work with partners committed to your long-term efforts
Make sure you’re compliant by getting approval from the nonprofit organization prior to creating the campaign and messaging. Focus on nonprofits your employees and company have already established a relationship with to showcase that this is a long-term commitment and developed partnership.
Kimberly-Clark and Cottonelle have donated one million dollars and one million rolls of toilet paper to United Way’s COVID-19 Community Response + Recovery Fund. If you post how you were able to #ShareASquare, Cottonelle will donate a dollar for each mention. Kimberly-Clark is a longtime supporter of the United Way, so the #ShareASquare campaign is an extension of an existing partnership, helping communities get the supplies they need most.
4. Have a simple call to action
We’ve all seen values-driven marketing campaigns with an exhaustive list of instructions to follow to get funding for a cause. Tweet this, build that, draw a picture, use this hashtag — all these actions become a big ask that holds people back from contributing. Making it too hard for people to follow a series of steps can lead to an unsuccessful campaign.
Follow the lead of companies like T-Mobile, who proposed a simple hashtag and mention in one tweet. T-Mobile asked users to #GiveThanksNotPranks on April Fool’s Day, donating a dollar to their COVID-19 Relief Fund for each tweet mentioning @TMobile and #GiveThanksNotPranks. It’s simple, it’s clear, and T-Mobile saw great participation on social media.
People are drawn to companies that care about the wider world. When values-driven marketing is done well, you can make a significant impact for a nonprofit or cause. It can also boost employee retention and customer trust. Just remember this simple message as you navigate: Pay it forward, and good things will follow.
Learn more about how you can lead with purpose with Philanthropy Cloud.