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Add Cause Marketing to Your Trade Show Agenda – Part 1

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Add Cause Marketing to Your Trade Show Agenda – Part 1

3 Tips for a Successful Cause Marketing Campaign

Creating connections on a trade show floor is an opportunity to make a meaningful impression on existing and potential customers.  Leveraging that opportunity begins well before a show starts and extends beyond the close of an event.  As we continue to engage one another on the floor through interactive exhibit designs and off the show floor, corporations are seeking ways to boost business while also making a difference in our world, giving rise to a marketing category of corporate activities known as cause marketing.

Cause marketing, or cause-related marketing (CRM), is a partnership between a for-profit corporation and a nonprofit organization for the purpose of promoting the company’s products or services while at the same time supporting the mission of the charitable organization.  These campaigns serve to align a company’s values with appropriate causes that better society, as well as benefit their brand by  increasing  awareness, strengthening business relationships and connecting with audiences on a deeper level.

No matter the size of your trade show program, implementing a cause marketing campaign is beneficial in many ways.  Ranging from large global causes to smaller local efforts, a cause marketing campaign on the trade show floor promotes purpose and partnership, and allows booth staffers to form an emotional connection with audiences.

For trade show attendees, cause marketing campaigns can help satisfy their moral responsibility through an act of giving. Whether it is through donations, or simply engaging with an interactive experience within a custom trade show exhibit, booth visitors feel a sense of accomplishment.  This notion of contribution provides show-goers an opportunity to actively give back to the community, and serves as a topic of conversation with their peers and booth staffers.

You’re also helping a nonprofit organization extend their reach beyond traditional methods, bringing awareness to the cause through a new channel.  By proactively marketing and spotlighting a cause, attendees have an easy avenue to get involved while they are attending a show or event. Your marketing support on the trade show floor helps the nonprofit’s own marketing and promotional efforts by increasing public interest, promoting active involvement and garnering potential donations OFF the show floor.

A great side-effect for corporations is the influence it has on human resources.  Partnering with a nonprofit organization at-large plays a role in attracting and keeping employees. Research indicates some 88 percent of employees found their job more fulfilling when they are provided opportunities to give back and make a positive impact on social and environmental issues. Finding a way to tie the show effort into a corporate-giving project boosts internal morale.  At the end of any campaign, the benefits of incorporating cause marketing into your trade show program are profound, allowing for unlimited possibilities for businesses and charities to do good – together.

As attractive as cause marketing campaigns appear as a concept, being able to create, develop and execute a successful campaign before, during and after a trade show is not always an easy feat. To ensure an effective and meaningful approach, here are three important tips to keep in mind as you begin to craft a comprehensive plan.

Know Your Brand

A goal of exhibiting at a trade show is to positively shift the recognition and perception of your brand.  To do so, you must first understand why and how your brand is perceived by trade show attendees.  This is also important information to acquire as you select your nonprofit partner.  Make sure you have a clear understanding of what your company and brand represents to your target market.  If you support a cause or a nonprofit organization that does not align with your brand’s corporate values or is in conflict with the expectations of the target audience on the show floor, you put your brand at risk. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the ins-and-outs of your brand to ensure the best possible fit with a nonprofit partner.

Do Your Research

The goal of a good cause marketing campaign is to mutually benefit all parties involved.  Strive to create a long-term, purpose-driven campaign that allows the brand, corporation and nonprofit of choice to do well while doing good. For each possible partner, evaluate how the nonprofit is structured, the types of activities they undertake, along with their track-record of success.  Knowing this background will help narrow the field to identify a nonprofit partner that will essentially become an extension of your brand.

Set Goals & Manage Expectations

Like in any relationship, being on the same page as your counterpart is a necessity in order for the relationship to thrive. Make sure your cause marketing campaign has well-defined goals, as well as clarity around the audience’s and non-profits’ role in achieving them.  All involved parties must establish a mutually beneficial, manageable plan and determine key milestones for the program. These measurable and transparent goals, when effectively communicated and achieved, transform into tangible results that are used to help justify your trade show program.

In Part 2 of Cause Marketing, we will explore pitfalls to avoid as you plan to add Cause Marketing to your trade show program.

Let the trade show professionals at Exhibitus help add a cause marketing campaign to your next events.  Contact us for the best in face-to-face strategy and execution.