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Add Cause Marketing to Your Trade Show Agenda – Part 2

Hurdles to Avoid with a Cause Marketing Campaign

In a previous edition of the Exhibitus blog, we discussed the benefits of adding cause marketing to a custom trade show exhibit and shared tips for initiating your campaign. Below we share common challenges that could arise when adding cause marketing activities.

Despite seeming like an ideal solution to do good for all parties involved, cause marketing efforts are still subject to consequences, risks and failures. As with any partnership and message, there is no doubt audience scrutiny can occur. Here are things to consider when determining if cause marketing is right for your company and how to best structure your partnership with a non-profit.

Avoid Polarizing, Political or Ill-Aligned Causes

Companies need to be sure the cause they are considering does not isolate their brand from the target audience. A polarizing topic or political stance, whether it be from the corporation or nonprofit side, can easily cleave the target audience and minimize participation. Event marketers should stay away from causes that could repel a major segment of their target audience.

Sometimes the topic isn’t polarizing or political, but suffer from partnership misalignment with the core identity of one or both partners. For example, an association whose core mission is to eradicate a disease through healthy living would not choose to partner with a fast food company as a means to gain donations for research. The target audience would immediately question the campaign’s credibility because the association’s brand is aligned with fresh, baked and broiled foods for a healthier lifestyle. This cause marketing campaign would not be successful because it directly contradicts and undermines the non-profit’s core mission and messaging.

Show Proof of Effort

Attendees on the show floor are expecting transparency, accountability and proof of impact as it relates to charitable causes, as well as proof of their contribution to the selected cause. When attendees are asked to participate in cause marketing efforts at a show, there is a basic level of expectation to consider. Questions such as, “Where is my money going?” or “Do I know who will benefit from my participation?” will arise.

These details need to be clearly outlined for booth staffers to verify when asked. Additionally, the marketing team should provide social proof of the campaign in all communication efforts pre, at and post-show.

Well-prepared cause marketing campaigns clearly state what action is to be taken when participating, which charity will be receiving the benefits, and how their act of giving is being distributed. Nothing is more powerful than to show photos of the distribution, as well as testimonials from the nonprofit organization and/or the recipients of the donation.

Prevent Distraction from Show Goals

With as much effort that goes into your trade show program, be careful that the cause marketing activity does not detract from the program goals, core messaging or custom exhibit design function. After initiating a cause marketing campaign that is easily accessible and convenient, it is critical that your booth staffers direct visitors’ attention to the objective-driven elements in your exhibit environment.

Althought it is important to feature the cause, it is imperative that the engagement does not commandeer the overall exhibit. The cause marketing element should be a wonderful augmentation to the overall goals, theme and brand experience. Putting the cause marketing at the end of the journey through your exhibit avoids this complication and helps visitors leave a positive note.

In summary, as with all aspects of face-to-face marketing, planning is key. With a thoughtful and well-executed campaign, cause marketing will demonstrate to customers, prospects and the company at-large that doing good is not only beneficial for the charity and those that receive help from the efforts, but for the overall business as well.

Interested in adding cause marketing to your trade show agenda? Contact Exhibitus for more information and learn how we can help grow your trade show ROI today.