Increase Your Brand Awareness with Goodwill toward Your Community The Ubiquity of Cause Marketing

Today the term “cause marketing” has become an overused buzzword. Like “green washing,” much of the substance seems to be lost in the term.

Some companies deliver “cause marketing” with a check and a “good luck with that.” Then they are satisfied that they are supporting this group and have done their duty.

Of course, many of the larger non-profits benefit by large sponsorship fees. In return, these NPOs allow sponsors to use their logo on their marketing materials. But isn’t there something more that companies can do besides just writing a check? In fact, what can small, undercapitalized companies do who can’t write a check?

Worthy Cause Marketing

We chose the term “Worthy Cause Marketing” to distinguish our more involved approach. Initially, the lack of funds forced us to discover and employ other and ultimately, more beneficial ways to contribute. We called it Worthy Cause Marketing because it was a cause worthy of our company, brand and product. It was worthy of our time and labor, advice, and promotion. It was also worthy of our long-term loyalty. The cause became part of our brand just as our brand became part of the fabric of the cause community itself.

If the cause membership would use and appreciate your product or service, then Worthy Cause Marketing may be for you. If you are a small start-up, you may not have a lot of funds for marketing. But like fishing gear and wild rivers, or health insurance and exercise, identifying a cause that compliments your brand, and choosing to support non-profits within it may be a good way to go.

There are many ways to support the causes you chose.

You can take their message to your customers and in the process, bring awareness to your brand story. Consider promoting their fundraiser or passing on their goals to your marketplace. Using your marketing skills and venues, you may be able to access people that they could never get to. These approaches may be much more valuable to them in the long run than just a check.

Your goodwill is long-term if your commitment is long-term.

Cause members are more likely to choose a brand that supports them, especially when they are small and marginalized, or controversial. When they do become mainstream, however, they will not forget the help you gave them when they really needed it. Your goodwill is long-term if your commitment is long-term.

Yes, they still need actual financial support. But you have resources at your disposal that can be much more effective in promoting their cause and gaining their goodwill. When you make it your brand’s cause, you are saying it is worthy of your commitment and it is what your brand stands for beyond the product it represents.

So this holiday season when you hear wishes of goodwill, think about how you can earn your community’s support, even without a big check. Goodwill is a two-way street, so get to work and help out your community!

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Who We Are

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey Barefoot Wine Founders

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey co-authored the New York Times bestselling business book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand. The book has been selected as recommended reading in the CEO Library for CEO Forum, the C-Suite Book Club, and numerous university classes on business and entrepreneurship. It chronicles their humble beginnings from the laundry room of a rented Sonoma County farmhouse to the board room of E&J Gallo, who ultimately acquired their brand and engaged them as brand consultants. Barefoot is now the world’s largest wine brand.

Beginning with virtually no money and no wine industry experience, they employed innovative ideas to overcome obstacles, create new markets and forge strategic alliances. They pioneered Worthy Cause Marketing and performance-based compensation. They built an internationally bestselling brand and received their industry’s “Hot Brand” award for several consecutive years.

They offer their Guiding Principles for Success (GPS) & Shelf Smarts courses to help consumer product brand builders achieve success. Their book, The Entrepreneurial Culture: 23 Ways To Engage and Empower Your People, helps corporations maximize the value of their human resources.

Currently they travel the world leading workshops, trainings, & keynoting at business schools, corporations, conferences. They are regular media guests and contributors to international publications and professional journals. They are C-Suite Network Advisors & Contributing Editors. Visit their popular business site at

To make inquiries for keynote speaking, trainings or consulting, please contact