Cause Related Marketing: The key to a successful partnership lies in the initial groundwork

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The Independent Culture
Cause-related marketing initiatives don't have to be sophisticated or ground-breaking to work well. Although it is important that the mechanics of the operation work smoothly, it's much more important that care and consideration are taken when the joint venture is still at the planning stage.

"Having studied cause-related marketing for some time, it is clear to me that the reason for failure is most often due to lack of investment in planning and preparation," says Sue Adkins, director of cause-related marketing at Business in the Community. "This affects the mechanics, implementation and communication of the initiative."

Everything hinges on the reason for the connection being made in the first place.

If the two parties are too similar people will think the charity has been bought to provide a patina of acceptability to questionable business practices, too different and they will again question the motives.

Happily, the middle ground is large enough to accommodate some unlikely partners. And so it is with the link-up between one of the UK's forward- thinking financial institutions and one of its smaller but more forward- thinking charities.

Skipton Building Society wanted to increase its share of the competitive mortgage market, Y Care was seeking help to publish a new biannual journal as a vehicle for informing Y Care supporters of their work.

Skipton made a donation towards the postage costs of the new Y Care journal and included information about its mortgage products within the journal.

Also the building society offered to make a donation of pounds 100 to Y Care for each mortgage taken out by Y Care journal readers.

But the clever part is contained in the easy connection between the work of the corporation and charity, the sort of close connection that is at the heart of all the best cause-related marketing tie-ins.

Building societies originated from group saving schemes which were established for the mutual benefit of the whole group.

Group members were also able to take out low-cost loans. And for all the rush to embrace the cut and thrust of the open market, Skipton remains defiantly a mutual.

Y Care International has established as part of its work a number of savings schemes and "revolving loan operations" to enable disadvantaged young people all over the world to establish income-generating projects and small businesses while encouraging young people to save.

"The benefit to the company was simple, because Skipton increased its share of the mortgage market," reports Y Care's trusts and corporate relations manager, Anne Hayward. "They are also seen to be 'good corporate citizens' by readers of the Y Care journal, which is circulated to 50,000 individuals, companies, trusts, government bodies and voluntary organisations.

"For us, in addition to the help in producing the journal, working with a well-known company is good for our reputation and for each mortgage taken out Skipton make the cash donation."

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