In 2010, the fourth annual goodpurpose study conducted by Edelman, showed that “86% of global consumers believe that business needs to place at least equal weight on society’s interests as on those of business.” This overwhelming majority has led a large portion of businesses, big and small, to listen up and take action. When a large business rolls out a cause marketing campaign the consumer can’t escape it–there is a barrage of print, TV and web ads, but how is a small business to get the word out? Well, Facebook, of course.
According to a New York Times study, “The Psychology of Sharing," 84% of people share via social media because it is a way to support causes or issues they care about. The case seems to be the same for small businesses as well, because Facebook has reported that the 2011 holiday season saw more small businesses leverage the power of Facebook to cause market than ever before. Research from Constant Contact in October 2011 shows that Facebook is the most commonly used social media tactic for small businesses to connect one-on-one with customers. The ease of contact and desire to share social interests has led many small businesses to take a stab at cause marketing during the recent holiday season, an marketing tactic that will continue through 2012.
Here are three companies that made the most of the holiday season via smart cause marketing.
The Los Angeles-based company Sprinkles works hard year-round to hold its title as “the charitable cupcake bakery.” For the 2011 holiday season, founders Candace and Charles Nelson felt a toy drive would be the perfect way to engage their customers in a little holiday philanthropy. Toy bins were placed in each of their ten locations, and heavy promotion ran on Facebook through organic means and Facebook ads. For the holiday season, Sprinkles customers helped to donate 1,400 toys to local children’s organizations and hospitals, including Toys for Tots.
"Facebook is a direct line of communication to our customers. Anytime we want to get a timely message out, the first thing we do is post to our Facebook Pages,” says Social Media Manager Nicole Schwartz. “Customers in each market were excited to see that toys were being donated to local charities. Of course, they were also excited to get a free cupcake for their good deed!”
2. HOCOA San Diego
Drive two hours south of the Sprinkles headquarters, and you’ll find Sam Goodwin and the HOCOA San Diego home repair network. Goodwin knew he wanted to run a cause marketing campaign for the 2011 holiday season, but wasn’t sure what cause to support. It wasn’t long after that he received an e-mail from the Interfaith Oceanside Food Pantry, which spoke of the pantry's empty shelves and need for aid.
“The e-mail from the food pantry pulled at my heartstrings, and I had to jump on the opportunity to make promoting kindness my business,” Goodwin says.
For Goodwin’s campaign he did not offer cupcakes in exchange for toys, but promised that for every new Like his Facebook page he would donate one can of food to the local pantry. Goodwin sat by as his Facebook page gained fans and was proud to give people “an opportunity to help others this holiday season through a simple mouse click.”
3. McKinnon Insurance and Park Street Pizza
And in the Midwest, Joel McKinnon of McKinnon Insurance and his friend, Rocky Shanower, owner of Park Street Pizza, both Ohio residents and trustees on the board of their local United Way of Tuscarawas County, have started a new tradition: “Chowdown to Help the Town.” For a full day in December, Shanower closed his pizza parlor to the public, and McKinnon donates his time and car, to deliver pies.
The tradition began last December with a simple Facebook event that quickly led to status updates and posts that encouraged locals to order lunch from Park Street Pizza. The post read, “If your office is having a holiday party that day, why not order from us? We give 15% of the sales directly to our local United Way!” McKinnon recalls, proudly.
McKinnon and Shanower take great pride in the Chowdown event and see it as an opportunity to give back to the very community that supports their businesses year-round. Though McKinnon hopes to promote next year’s Chowdown through other media channels as well, he admits, “The results would not be what they are without the viral effect that Facebook can generate.”
Each of the three businesses say they will be running similar cause-related campaigns again at the end of 2012 and plan for bigger and better results. When asked to offer other small business owners cause marketing advice, Sam Goodwin of HOCOA San Diego replied, “I recognize that there are many great charities out there who need help, but choose a cause close to your heart, the heart of your business and the heart of your customers and you won’t go wrong.”