Posts tagged "Causes"

Goals, Giving, & Gratitude

I have this weird relationship with setting goals.  It’s not something that I do in the typical, structured way that most people do.  In fact, I tend to resist the concept at every turn. There is something in there that runs counter to my way of letting things happen and going with the flow of life.  And it’s not like I don’t aspire to things – on the contrary I have huge aspirations in my life.  I just have been resistant to putting timelines and structure around these aspirations.

Last month in Sarah Robinson’s 28 Days to Getting Your Sh*t Together blog series, I was actively engaged in every post until the one on setting goals.  I went silent. I suppose I don’t like being told that I need to set goals.  But guess what?  I do.

On Sunday afternoon, I participated in the Hunger Walk here in Atlanta, which benefits the Atlanta Community Food Bank.  I’ve been participating in Hunger Walk for several years, and I sit on the Advisory Board of the ACFB, so I definitely have to step up my game around raising money for this initiative. Read more…

Hunger Walk/Run 2011

March 13, 2011, people from all over the Atlanta area come together at Turner Field in a show of solidarity to promote the end of hunger in our community.  Hunger Walk/Run is an annual event that brings people from all walks of life together for an afternoon of entertainment, fellowship, and a nice walk through the city. And for the more athletic sort, there is a 5K run as well (don’t worry, I’ll be walking).

My team this year with Hub Atlanta has a goal of raising $1500 for the Atlanta Community Food Bank (ACFB), and my personal goal is $500.  If you have a few bucks to spare today, would you consider donating? Read more…

My Hunger Walk Team

Hunger Walk/Run 2010On March 14th, the 26th annual Hunger Walk/Run will be held at Turner Field in Atlanta, and I’ve created a team to raise money for the Atlanta Community Food Bank and also raise awareness of the issues of hunger and poverty in our community.  If you are interested in getting involved as a walker or runner, check out my team page, or if you would like to help me achieve my personal goal of $500 raised for the food bank, please visit my personal page.

I’m a long-time supporter of the Atlanta Community Food Bank and have served on the Advisory Board for several years now.  The ACFB is a truly incredible organization that is doing fantastic work in the community.  I’m proud to be a part of a non-profit that receives such high marks from its national and local partners.

If you are able to participate or help me reach my fund raising goal, I will be very grateful.  Also, if you have any stories you would like to share around hunger and poverty, please leave a note in the comments.  Thank you for your support!

Lessons in Simplicity, courtesy of the American Red Cross

You can text “HAITI” to 90999 to donate $10 to American Red Cross relief for Haiti.

The earthquake in Haiti this week has had a profound impact on people from all over the world, and it’s quite moving to see the outpouring of support that has taken place in the aftermath of this disaster.  One thing that occurred to me last night was how the American Red Cross has been able to engage people to donate money quickly using a very simple method – an SMS campaign.  As of Friday morning 1.15, they had raised $8 million from the campaign in $10 increments, and donations are still on an upward trajectory.

Let’s take a moment to think about this.  $8 million in less than 3 days.  This is big!  To put it into perspective, this is equal to the corporate cash donations of Microsoft, Kellogg, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Bank of America, Western Union, General Mills, Kraft, GoDaddy, Walmart, and Morgan Stanley combined!  And we’re only 3 days into this simple text-to-donate campaign.  This is a remarkable example of simplicity being the key to getting people to take action.  I can’t think of a better example of a successful, yet simple campaign that has taken off so quickly.

What is the lesson here for marketers?  I believe there are a couple of lessons actually.  Number one being that people have a desire to help others in need.  This goes back to the cause efforts that I’ve been writing about lately.  It’s obvious that we have a connection with our fellow humans that runs deeper than social classes or geographic boundaries.  I won’t beat this drum to death here, as I think it’s self explanatory that aligning with relevant causes can be an effective way for brands to connect with people.

The second lesson that inspired this post is that sometimes simplicity can be very effective at getting people to take a desired action.  I think sometimes we fall into a trap as marketers and digital pundits where we are so focused on the new tools that are out there that we forget some of the most effective tools have been around for quite a while.  The Red Cross could have probably created a much more elaborate donation mechanism using all kinds of fancy tools and tactics, but instead they set up a simple way for people to make a donation quickly and easily from their mobile phone (not just smartphones).  Simple.  Effective.  Viral.  Of course, the message went viral due to people posting the campaign on social channels and the exposure the campaign received in other media, but you have to wonder how this would have worked if there had not been such an easy path to donate.

Take a moment and think about programs you have coming up or goals you are trying to achieve as 2010 gets underway.  Are there things you can do to simplify the process for the people you are communicating with?  It’s worth taking a step back from time to time to evaluate what’s working and how things can be made easier for people.

What do you think?  Did simplicity play a part in the Red Cross achieving this level of support?

Also, if you are interested, here’s a great article from AdAge that details the efforts that some corporations are making to assist in the disaster recovery.

What does your brand stand for?

Today I’d like to talk about support for causes and how I believe this can affect the marketing communications approach for brands both now and in the future.  This was the post that I originally intended to write last week but got distracted when my favorite writing tool was offline.

CausesI was reading an excellent post earlier by Augie Ray where he says ‘in 2010, your brand will be more defined by what you do and who you are!‘  I couldn’t agree more, and to me this is the essence of where business is heading.  Think about it – when you hear about a specific cause that you believe in being championed by a brand, don’t you feel a closer connection to that brand?  I believe that this kind of connection is going to be vital for the successful brands of the future.  The age of advertising as we once knew it is over.  We can’t rely on the ways of the past or ‘better creative’ to be the saviors of our brands.  There has to be something more.

What does your brand really stand for?

People are paying more attention to what brands are doing and what they stand for than what they are saying about themselves.  People are talking with each other and discovering things about brands at a staggering pace, so naturally the more positive associations people find with brands they are considering, the better.  And of course, with the addition of real-time search to the equation, this is only compounded in importance.

We can all learn a valuable lesson from the Toyota social media fiasco that is really picking up steam right now.  I won’t get into the specifics, but you can read about it here.  The idea though is that it appears that this was approached using old thinking in a new medium.  Instead of trying to come up with a clever ad campaign to advertise the Yaris, they could have asked some better questions like ‘how can we connect with potential buyers and give them something positive to talk about in relation to our brand or the Yaris in particular?’  Or maybe ‘how can we make a difference in the lives of the people that we hope will buy a Yaris,’ or ‘what are some of the social issues that this group of people are passionate about and is there a way to align our brand with organizations or causes that are helping?’  Instead, they took a risk on the shock factor in what looks like a slick commercial in the name of ‘user generated content’ and have alienated a lot of potential buyers in the process.

Asking better questions

Instead of trying to get clever with your messaging, why not try thinking smarter by understanding how humans think and behave and how your brand fits into the bigger picture of this dynamic.  What if you take a percentage of your budget and dedicate it to social causes that will resonate with your target?  What if instead of always talking about how wonderful your brand, product, or service is, you help make the world a better place to live and let that message spread organically?  Which do you think is going to resonate and get people talking more?  Is it worth a shot?  I think so.  After all, if people are going to talk about your brand, wouldn’t it be nice to have a nice positive theme running alongside the discussion?  And it should go without saying that the support should be authentic, not contrived or opportunistic.

Remember, ‘social’ is not just a function of the Marketing, PR, and Customer Service departments.  All aspects of business are affected and can benefit from becoming more social.  The entire organization should be listening to what’s happening out there and responding with ideas and programs that will resonate with the participants of the conversation (special thanks to Daina Middleton for sharing her thoughts about ‘participants’).

So, let’s start asking better questions, ok?  Here are few thought starters:

  1. What does your brand stand for?
  2. Do you take a strong position on any specific cultural or social issue?
  3. Is there a way to use this point of view to connect with the people that use or could use your products or service?
  4. Is your organization making a difference in the world?  If so, how?  Do people know about it?
  5. Can your alignment with a cause or multiple causes help you achieve your business objectives?
  6. Would you be willing to put more focus on the causes you support and less emphasis on your overtly promotional messages?

What are some other questions you think we should be asking?  Let me know what you think about this in the comments.  As always, thanks for stopping by and reading.

Bonus Video

One final thing – if you have 10 minutes and haven’t already seen it, please watch this incredibly inspiring video by Simon Mainwaring.  He touches on this topic and really has a strong point of view on social causes and business.