Cause-Related Marketing Agency
A Natural Part of Our Culture
Innis Maggiore enjoys a legacy of helping charities or other causes large and small with our branding expertise and our full complement of marketing capabilities.
Maybe it’s because our agency has always been devoted to our community. For example, in 2007 Innis Maggiore created an Endowed Scholarship for Communications with one of our clients, Stark Community Foundation, to help full-time Kent State Stark students with communications, marketing, public relations, journalism, or advertising majors, with the chance to get a scholarship of up to $4,000. The agency also partnered with Canton’s Repository newspaper to shine a light on and encourage the support of local businesses with a regular profile called Local Business Spotlight. It's part of what makes us a strong cause-related marketing agency.
Maybe it’s because the people of Stark County and its surrounding region are known for helping out one another. Our area is rich with individuals and groups committed to helping their neighbors in so many ways. This gives the agency the chance to work with a number of dedicated clients that serve the community and enrich our lives as advertising professionals. Our associates get into the act, as well. Many are volunteers and raise funds for their own charities of choice, while Innis Maggiore has a legacy of 100% employee participation and company matching for our local United Way and for ArtsinStark. It's another part of what makes us a strong cause-related marketing agency.
And maybe it’s because associations and organizations choose us due to the attention they get and results they experience. Whether it’s direct marketing to secure donations; digital campaigns to raise awareness of public health concerns; or full campaigns to inform seniors about their options for Medicare; Innis Maggiore gives our nonprofit cause-related clients (whether pro bono or paid projects) the effort they deserve in order for them to help others more successfully than ever. And it's a third part of what makes us a strong cause-related marketing agency.
We believe it's a combination of these three, as Innis Maggiore enjoys a legacy of helping charities and other causes large and small with our branding expertise and our full complement of marketing capabilities. For us, it’s important to contribute in this way and it’s rewarding when we can make a difference for these organizations.
Causes can be good for business
Beyond doing good, cause-related marketing brings a range of benefits to your brand
As America’s #1 Positioning Ad Agency and a regional cause-related marketing agency powerhouse, Innis Maggiore is always paying attention to the brand. Campaigns, whether overtly commercial or containing a cause-related message, must be in the service to the brand and your brand position in the marketplace. Take this for granted and you will waste money on undisciplined, disparate endeavors that don’t focus on the core brand.
Cause-related marketing has obvious reasoning. Getting involved with charities or social causes is simply the right thing to do, thinking beyond oneself to help others. Aside from the obvious, there are tangible business benefits that can be derived from a well-executed cause-related marketing effort.
Smart cause-related marketing — with the help of your cause-related marketing agency experts at Innis Maggiore — creates a positive emotional connection to your brand. It shows that you care about our planet or your community or its people. There’s an internal component to this as well, as encouraging direct employee involvement (such as volunteerism) gives them a feeling of accomplishment and a positive impression about their company, along with the satisfaction of doing something that makes a difference.
How does cause-related marketing work?
And can you increase profits and make a better society?
To help support cause-related marketing success, it’s helpful to look at the basics. Cause-related marketing starts by pairing a for-profit company (that’s you) with a nonprofit (that’s a cause you care about and for which you feel a natural affinity). You craft a strategy, a plan, and marketing that promotes the charity or a social or environmental cause.
The program should be beneficial to both parties. For instance, the cause gets an increase in public awareness that could boost revenue potential and social value. The business has its corporate social responsibility (CSR) and brand image enhanced, which may influence purchasing behavior to those who share an interest in the cause, while showing that the company is purpose-driven. The program can also aid employee retention, as they find meaning in their work as they contribute to society to feel appreciation toward their employer for being encouraged to do so.
According to a recent LinkedIn article, cause-related marketing is best executed by first identifying the cause and your company’s meaningful connection to it; having the business and the nonprofit align their stories; and involving your audience, whether it’s to donate, share on social, interact with the charitable or cause partner, or participate in an event. A cause-related marketing agency like Innis Maggiore is able to validate alignment by assessing your brand perception in the market and how the affinity of a cause could impact your organization (beyond the obvious benefit of helping the cause).
Some cause-related marketing trend examples
Cause-related marketing is hardly new. A classic example was Lee Iacocca’s leadership at Chrysler to renovate the Statue of Liberty. Newman’s Own has been donating 100% of its profits to charity for many years.
Even with something this established, there are still new methodologies and helpful trends that can make cause-related marketing more effective than ever. One example is for a retailer (whether online or brick-and-mortar) to offer incentives to make a donation after a purchase, which can drive up Average Order Value (AVO) and empower customers to donate instead of getting a discount. Holiday-themed giving is popular, in some instances based on pre-existing holidays, while others are directly related to charitable activities such as Giving Tuesday, Small Business Saturday, or Buy Nothing Day. Donors can multiply the benefit of their giving by sharing on social media, while nonprofits can themselves promote fundraising successes to motivate more giving by sharing results via video, pictures, and stories. “Buy One, Give One” is a simple and painless way to put giving in front of donors, while companies can take part by donating a portion of company profits or a portion of a promotion’s profits.
Innis Maggiore has been supporting charities and nonprofit organizations and their respective goals for decades. Recent examples include raising funds and awareness for the Domestic Violence Project; annual Wishes Can Happen fundraising events; assisting the Aultman Health Foundation with their efforts to make their new cancer center possible; an app for the United Way Caring Club; a PSA campaign that brought competing hospitals, health departments, and many other organizations together in support of positive COVID recommendations; plus efforts on behalf of Trumbull Metropolitan Housing Authority, Fair Housing Law Center, and more. A sampling of detailed examples is shown below.
Second Harvest Food Bank
Helping a community help their own
To increase financial donations to the area’s largest community food pantry supply house, Second Harvest Food Bank uses an innovative letter messaging and donor list strategy. Innis Maggiore’s direct appeal approach targets those most likely to donate continuously. Direct response donor data helps us target mid- to high-level donors from other large fundraising organizations. Our long-copy letter packages focus on hunger and poverty statistics and success stories of individuals within the Food Bank’s target geography. In addition to direct appeal DM, we have also developed and executed quarterly newsletters, public relations activities, and event development to increase community awareness and advocacy.
In the first campaign, Second Harvest Food Bank increased its donor database by 21%! Since the campaigns inception in 2003, this success has led to an increase to 8 mailings per year and a boost in active donor database of 211%. The resulting average gift among active donors is over $40.
Innis Maggiore also worked with Second Harvest to initiate face-to-face, telephone and written communication opportunities with the Mahoning Valley’s media outlets ranging from print to broadcast. Several years into the campaign, Second Harvest distributed more than three times as much food than originally accomplished. The donor database has grown by more than 500%, donation dollars are up 1,500% (2015 over 2003), and volunteerism has doubled.
The agency also helped Second Harvest with a quick-turnaround COVID-19 emergency direct response mailing that resulted in a record-setting, single-day total of 300 donations for the food bank.
GuideStone Financial Resources
Doing well should include doing right for others
Guidestone Financial Resources is a leader in investments and retirement plans specifically for churches and their staff. Their brand position is represented by the Innis Maggiore-created tagline, “Do well. Do right.” One of the first accomplishments of our relationship (one that lasted over a decade as GuideStone’s agency of record), the motto illustrates balancing a need for a family’s economic security with a dedication to living a higher calling.
As GuideStone’s agency, we have produced print, direct marketing, videos, and websites dedicated to their multiple divisions (including retirement plans, property and casualty insurance, investments, and their own charity).
The charity, called Mission:Dignity, provides help for retired ministers and their spouses who through no fault of their own are forced to decide between necessities like medicine OR electricity. Over a five-year period, the charity has experienced a 55% increase in the number of donors making a gift and a 56.9% increase in new donors; a 55.7% improvement in dollar value of gifts and 35.5% more in the number of gifts each year.
Youngstown Metropolitan Housing Authority
Turning perceptions around creates a positive impact
Formed in 1933, Youngstown Metropolitan Housing Authority was one of the first public housing authorities established in the United States. The housing authority provides low- to moderate-income residents of Mahoning County a chance to become more self-sufficient and to prosper. But YMHA was facing some credibility issues in its home market, with a common misperception of poor people living in “projects” who were drug users, lawbreakers, or both. Innis Maggiore’s challenge was to get the good word out about the housing authority and tell the community about its abundance of success stories.
A community relations initiative — from news conferences and special events to feature articles in the local papers and a video — used case studies about individual success stories, to gain more positive coverage by the local media and favorable community response. This in part helped achieve a $20 million HUD grand as well as Executive Director Eugenia C. Atkinson’s recognition by the Chamber of Commerce as the most influential female leader in the community. As she later remarked, “Innis Maggiore helped us improve the public perception about YMHA. They have helped us share our successes and unveil the tremendous accomplishments of our residents and staff members.”
Stark Community Foundation
Helping the community, one fund at a time
Stark Community Foundation is an amalgam of trusts and funds designed to honor the wishes of donors who may not otherwise be able to afford the overhead of maintaining individual trust funds, as well as taking advantage of tax opportunities and other financial benefits. Innis Maggiore’s longstanding relationship with the foundation began when they asked Innis Maggiore to create their annual report and review their overall messaging.
Given that the benefits of the Foundation work are in the more neighborly “community” rather than a geographically defined “county,” we recommended a name shift from Stark County Foundation to the Stark Community Foundation, along with the new themeline “For Good. Forever.” We then promoted that new image and messaging through brand redevelopment and a re-imagining of their logo, while providing a sales kit to aid staff and volunteers in soliciting new gifts.
For the three-year period preceding our involvement, the SCF received $8.2 million in contributions. The three years after our initiative yielded contributions of $26.3 million, or a 319% increase. Greater awareness and a more tightly knitted message grew the foundation significantly. Assets under management grew 30%; donor advised funds increased from 16% to nearly 20% of monies under management; and new funds from organizational endowments have grown 75%; so that today Stark Community Foundation ranks in the top 10% of all community foundations in the US and continues its annual grant awards of $2 million to neighborhood associations.
Stark County Health Department
Protecting our most vulnerable
Amongst many services provided to our community, the Stark County Health Department offers two home visiting programs which provide free, confidential, support services for pregnant mothers, as well as moms with infants under the age of one.
One is called THRIVE Home Visiting, which consists of a community health worker making monthly visits at the home or another place of the parent’s choice. They assist in connecting the person with resources such as access to transportation, health insurance, prenatal care, housing, crisis services, counseling services, items to prepare for the baby’s arrival, and help with early education for the baby.
The second is called Moms & Babies First, Ohio’s Black Infant Vitality Program. It consists of outreach services and health education for pregnant, African American mothers in Stark County. This is especially crucial because African Americans in Stark County have an infant mortality rate more than double that of Caucasians.
As Stark County’s leading advertising agency, and sharing the same hometown of Canton, Ohio, Innis Maggiore has helped our health department on a variety of endeavors. This particular project was to share the message that free resources are available on a confidential basis toward the theme that “every child deserves to celebrate their first birthday” with a campaign targeting statistically vulnerable African Americans.
We created a take-one brochure and series of social media posts targeted to the defined audience. Together with the client, we felt that the best strategy would be a balance of urgency with hope, informing prospective and new mothers about the necessity to act due to the troubling realities. To set the stage for that balance, we picked out a particularly concerning statistic, followed directly by the staging of hope:
“9 babies out of 1,000 never reach their first birthday. We want them to hear ‘Happy Birthday’ sung by loved ones.”
The piece talked about the most important ways to help babies, including prenatal care, avoiding smoking and drinking while pregnant, and safe sleep practices for infants. Proof that the program has been helping further bolstered the hope side of the messaging — from a 35% decrease in infant deaths and 50% decrease in African American infant mortality to a 40% improvement in infant mortality racial disparity.
The social media campaign was about a broader definition of help ready for those in the community, though all targeted mothers and expectant mothers.
These targeted Facebook ads also were created in a balance of concern with hope. We accomplished this by pairing provocative headlines in the form of a question — “FEEL ALONE?” | “CONFUSED ABOUT PRENATAL CARE?” | “NEED HELP?” | “DON’T KNOW WHERE TO TURN?” — with powerful photos depicting those in need. This was balanced by identifying the forms of help available (e.g., housing, food, clothing, and parenting classes; prenatal resources; infant mortality reduction programs; and healthy pregnancy assistance).
A horse and a Hog
Our agency was proud to bring the power of horses and horsepower to Pegasus Farm. The facility, which provides therapeutic horseback riding for individuals with disabilities, hosted a Spring Festival each year. The festival was highly popular and successful — as long as the sun was shining. If not, the Farm could be down tens of thousands of dollars, along with the weeks of preparation that drained resources from the Farm’s core mission.
When a savvy board member suggested replacing the festival with a raffle for a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, Innis Maggiore donated design for posters and postcards that combined the unique Harley image with images of one young rider and a biker as well as PR efforts to announce and promote the raffle. The program netted $44,000 (more than twice the proceeds of the Spring Festival).
Keep Our Babies Alive
Education can save lives
The Stark County Health Department received a small grant from the state of Ohio to promote their KOBA (Keep Our Babies Alive) program, designed to teach young mothers-to-be how best to care for themselves and for their unborn babies.
In order to reach these young mothers, a multi-media campaign was created that effectively reached this elusive audience. Television, public relations, and a sales promo campaign on grocery store bags were all used. The campaign also included elements to reach caregivers and influencers in the community who have interaction with these young women by encouraging them to visit a website where they could learn more about KOBA’s services. Inquiries from referral agencies more than doubled, as did the number of enrollees, which made them eligible for additional grant money.
Greater Stark County Urban League
Pillars for success make a difference for all
This well-established nonprofit does tremendous good in the community, but their website didn’t live up to its reputation. Our mutually developed strategy was to create a welcoming, inspiring, and uplifting website with greatly improved user experience and SEO.
The Greater Stark County Urban League has a long and distinguished history serving communities throughout the county. This affiliate of the National Urban League was founded in 1921. They came to Innis Maggiore because they were not happy with their then-current website, feeling it did not portray their mission and values, nor represent the positive work they do in the community. Other issues were that it was not user-friendly, lacking in intuitive UE or easy navigation. Furthermore, the platform didn’t allow for easy updates.
The mission of Greater Stark County Urban League is to enable African Americans and the underserved to reach full economic, social, and health parity to enrich their lives and the lives of their families. The organization uses a 5-pillar strategy to help meet local needs and implement its mission: Workforce Development, Education, Health, Housing, and Social Justice.
Over the course of our relationship with the nonprofit, Innis Maggiore has helped them with materials and direct mail for their annual fundraising events, public relations, a workforce development campaign, and Facebook advertising.
However, their website was always a nagging issue. It didn’t reflect the quality of their work in the community, and it wasn’t easy for the visitor to find what they needed or for the client to make updates.
The main goals of a new website were to improve brand perception among the community and increase donations. A major consideration was that they needed to effectively reach multiple audiences: the people they serve (African Americans both male and female, and typically low income) and the people who give (individuals and businesses that donate to the cause, who could be any age, gender, and income level).
The mindset of the primary audience is, “I need help. I can’t do this by myself,” whether it’s finding a job, getting more education, finding housing, improving health, or assistance with social justice. The main message to that primary audience is that the Greater Stark County Urban League is a trusted source for making connections to the assistance they need.
Though the original site touched on their Five Pillars of Purpose and some of their programs, the client believed there was further opportunity to define these services in greater detail and provide more interactivity and engagement. The News, Contact Us and Donate pages needed to be enhanced, both visually and interactively. They desired a fresh appearance, an improved user experience with intuitive navigation, to be developed on a CMS platform to enable easy updates and routine maintenance. We recommended the new site to be built on the latest version of Silverstripe, with integration coding to include a payment gateway for processing donations as well as social media links.
Innis Maggiore started with a website scan, research, and keyphrasing development. Prototyping followed, with the new website structure reflecting a new navigation and information architecture.
Our creative team started with a fresh homepage design and messaging. The creative strategy was to come across as a welcoming place where visitors can go to find help from those who understand their situations. Warmth and trust were the two driving words that inspired the visual and copy styles.
The main theme we developed — “everything is possible” — set the tone for the entire site, as did the brand promise of “better jobs and a better home … bolstered by stronger education, health, and justice.”
We welcomed visitors by stating, “You’re among friends,” and defining the Greater Stark County Urban League as “the home for hope. Lasting hope. We love the word yes and the direction up. African Americans are welcome, and the underserved are fulfilled. This is your Urban League, and it is your place for joy.” The visual style was wonderful and distinctive, combining a rich appearance and sophisticated style with a deft combination of perfect choices in stock photography, ambient videos, and motion effects.
As the agency got into the heavier content portions of the site, we were guided by the client's desire to expand the descriptions of services and include actual examples of how they help in each category, with whom they connect people, testimonials, and more. We realized the burden that could place on the client. After all, we knew they were out in the community, actively helping. They wouldn’t have time to write input, so we took a more unusual turn, grabbing some time here and there for our public relations director to conduct informal interviews to gather content points little by little. Once completed, that allowed us to flesh out the remainder of the website, after which all content had an SEO review and was sculpted to new keywords as identified during the SEO audit.
We’re as proud of the resulting work as the client is with the impact it has on their visitors, both the people they help and the people who give.
Standing behind commitments is a sustainable strategy
GOJO®, Makers of PURELL™, is a company with a purposeful focus: “to more holistically fight the spread of illness-causing germs.” The company serves a wide number of niche markets within healthcare, education, industry food service, and retail. Each niche market is different, with unique buyers and different environments to consider. For example, the hygiene protocols for education vary greatly between a K-12 School and a College/University, as do those for a nursing home versus a surgical center or hospital.
GOJO turned to Innis Maggiore to help shape the company’s global sustainability message in a way prospects and customers would really care about. The challenge put before the agency was how to make the connection between the company’s leadership position and sustainability leadership in a way that would be naturally understood and authentic to all audiences.
An Appreciative Discovery® consisting of internal and external stakeholder interviews led to a key discovery: GOJO’s leadership in sustainability far exceeded the company’s own understanding. The company had more credentials than needed to credibly claim the cause to pioneer Sustainable Ways of Working with distributors and key decision makers (KDMs). A path of discovery research taken by the agency led to the obvious conclusion that leadership and sustainability leadership go hand in glove.
Our thorough process of information excavation revealed an obvious but forgotten truth. GOJO’s founders worked in sustainable ways beginning in 1952, when the founders started the company in pursuit of a safer way to gently but effectively clean hard-working hands (that was nearly 71 years ago and 18 years before the first Earth Day!). The question became not one of “If” GOJO could claim leadership in sustainability credibility, but rather “How.” The creative solution was to revert to historical truth grounding GOJO’s innovation in sustainability not as something new, but something to be expected with persistent vigilance toward new innovation. Drawing the linkage demanded four essentials be adhered:
- Act like the leader, not talk like one. Actions speak louder than words. Leadership is not about chest beating. It is about a state of “being.” To be known as the sustainability leader in its industry, it would be essential for GOJO to act like the leader, not just talk like one.
- Stay authentic. Authenticity has been called the new black. GOJO need only remain true to its mission “to make the world a healthier place;” its stated company purpose “saving lives and making life better through well-being solutions;” and its business commitment to innovations that contribute to “the well-being of the planet."
- Avoid greenwashing or overpromising, even to the point of understating. Quiet (but not silent) is the new loud. The clear warning for a leader like GOJO is to err on the side of authenticity. Our market examination and sustainability matrix showed that there are plenty of positive stories in the queue yet to be told — so overzealousness need not cloud the strength of our efforts.
- Portray sustainability as the heritage of the company, an expression of an unshakable core value of the company dating back to its origin. The principle, crucial to the agency’s advertising message, is to emphasize that sustainability is not new, not marketing, and not publicity posturing for GOJO — but rather natural, meaningful, long-running, and intrinsic.
GOJO’s heritage as sustainable, combined with the company's then-current introduction of the world's first Green Certified hand sanitizer, provided the creative insight needed to position GOJO as leader in global sustainability.
An important aspect of the GOJO commitment to the environment was to set specific goals each year and to report on actual outcomes in a report to the community, the industry, and the world. Our first Sustainability Annual Report for GOJO was a finalist winner of PR NEWS prestigious Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) awards, presented to the client at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
We'll Share Your Caring
Cause-related marketing requires a nuanced touch, and Innis Maggiore knows how to strike the balance between involving your consumers or customers with the charity or organization you care about, with getting the attention you desire for doing so. It must come across with authenticity without any tinge of contrivance. If you're ready to engage a cause-related marketing agency, contact Innis Maggiore today.