Insights on business,
life, and leadership —
right in your inbox!

Three Steps to Cause-Related Marketing

March 26, 2024

ADDO helps build brands from the inside out.

This means that we don’t only focus on marketing campaigns geared toward the consumer. It means that we also work on material that is employee-facing—like onboarding and training—to help bolster employee satisfaction and performance in a way that will ultimately impact the customer’s experience.

Every once in a while, our work will overlap with an organization that has a strong connection to community affairs or social responsibility, and we need to shift our strategy to engage in cause-related marketing.

If you’re new to this term, let me explain.

Cause-related marketing is when a business or organization puts resources into charitable projects and then tells that story to consumers.

This is important because individuals are drawn to companies, brands, and organizations that stand for things that are bigger than themselves. However, within each of those organizations, there’s this constant struggle to focus on making a difference while also telling the story of impact without being disingenuous, manipulative, or self-serving. This is not an easy thing to do.

You might be thinking, “Why does this matter to me?”

I believe that every brand, both business and personal, can benefit by strategically aligning ourselves with causes and initiatives. Unfortunately, I also believe that if it’s done poorly it can be manipulative.  

I believe our organization, ADDO, has found an honorable and strategic way to do both—make a difference and tell our story effectively. One of my favorite ways we’ve done it is with the Baltimore Ravens.

Any time we design a program, project, or initiative that is meant to make a difference in other people’s lives and build a brand, we take these three steps in this order:

1) Impact. The first thing we think about is how we are going to impact the person we’re trying to help. For the Baltimore Ravens Leadership Institute, we first considered how to most effectively inspire and equip student leaders to live and lead at a higher level.

2) Integration. Next (this means AFTER we have considered the impact), we determine how to integrate the brand (or brands) in an authentic way. The program’s sponsors, the Baltimore Ravens and T. Rowe Price, are committed to helping high school students in the Baltimore area grow in the same leadership qualities key to excelling in professional football, financial stewardship, and beyond. This is why we decided to focus on four key areas of leadership: Lead Yourself, Lead Others, Lead Change, and Lead Community. Each one is widely applicable to any vocation, and each one easily gleans from the experiences of our corporate sponsors.

3) Influence. Once we have carefully considered the impact we want to make and integrated the brand in an authentic way, we work to articulate the influence that this program is making to the broader community (that’s the marketing part)!. We work intentionally on public relations, storytelling, and how to measure impressions of the program or product we’ve put in place.

Cause-related marketing might seem simple, but if you don’t follow these steps in this order, it won’t work. The initiatives that focus first on impact, have authentic brand integration, and share their influence in the community are the ones that are most effective.

Our communities need you to make a difference. I hope there are more businesses and individuals who will leverage their brands to leave a lasting impact.


Insights on business,
life, and leadership —
right in your inbox!