As you likely know, I’m a huge exponent of cause marketing, corporate philanthropy, and charitable giving. I truly believe that companies can “do well by doing good.” And while I’d count myself as having been successful realizing many such projects over the years, there’s always more to learn.
That’s why I was glad to sit down with Joe Cerbo, Managing Director of On Brand and independent Social Impact Advisor & Strategist. Joe works with businesses, brands, and entrepreneurs to create innovative solutions to society’s most pressing social, cultural, and environmental challenges by creating and implementing social impact strategies.
I wanted to learn about Joe’s own journey into cause marketing, and learn about issues facing corporations considering their own journeys. For example, how should they decide on which cause(s) to support? “When I advise a company or if somebody just asks me what I think about supporting a different cause, for me it always starts with what’s important to you,” noted Joe. “Because if it’s not authentic to who you are, it’s just not going to work. Consumers see right through it all the time.”
Joe believes that it’s critically important for employees to be brought into any corporate decisions regarding sponsored causes, and that’s equally important for management to think carefully about how any cause marketing campaigns will be executed. “There’s a whole bunch of ways for a company to get involved and give back. But the execution of that strategy is very important and what we had to do, and what’s important, is that you get the buy-in and the cooperation of the cause you’re supporting… and they will help you execute: the good organizations where you have great relationships will help execute.”
Joe notes that if corporate management is looking for a convincing, non-fuzzy reason to begin giving back, it need look no further than data on consumer attitudes towards giving back. “Millenials and GenZ — they will not buy — or very few of them will buy — a product that doesn’t support something. And that’s just a fact. Baby Boomers, not so much — it’s a different generation. GenX more than Baby Boomers, but really, millennials and GenZ expect that. 86 percent of consumers believe that companies should take a stand on social issues. 71 percent of millennials say they would pay more for a product if they knew the proceeds go to charity. And it just goes on and on.”
Joe and I discuss the many different flavors of “giving back” and the often confusing terms and acronyms used to describe these flavors, the fact that most cause marketing campaigns have a positive ROI, whether corporations should keep cause marketing and corporate philanthropy efforts in distinct silos, how they should go about linking the products and services they currently offer with the social problem they’re attempting to help solve, and how they should vet causes to which they’re contemplating giving support.
I really enjoyed my talk with Joe; if your brand is considering getting into “giving back,” Joe has a lot to offer; if you want to reach out to him directly, visit joecerbo.com.