4 Successful Examples of Cause Marketing to Inspire Your Practice

Ann M. Hoscheit, OD, FAAO, FAARM

EyeBridge Consulting Associates

Cause marketing, which is when a for-profit business and a non-profit organization align for mutual benefit, not only aids the cause you support, but also adds value to your business. Research has found three key consequences of cause marketing:

  • Doing good attracts people (both employees and patients)
  • It builds brand awareness and loyalty
  • It boosts employee morale and may even provide an opportunity to broaden their skills sets, not to mention their lives

Take a look at these 4 successful examples of cause marketing to inspire a strategy for your practice:

1. Trunk Full of Fun. Trunk shows are a great way to showcase your products and your community support. You can select a non-profit to receive a percentage of the sales from the event. Or, you can provide your customers with a list of your non-profit partners and ask them to select an organization they support. At the conclusion of the event, names are drawn, and 50% of the winner’s purchase price is donated by the practice to the non-profit, and – to make it even more thrilling (and engaging) for the participants – the other 50% goes back to the patient. When it comes time to present the check to the non-profit, be sure to include the patient as well as your doctors and staff. And don’t forget the camera! Check presentations make great social media content, and while these posts won’t necessarily go viral, they will certainly get their share of engagement!

2. Howdy, Partner! Why not connect your cause marketing efforts with other non-competing practitioners in your community, such as dental offices or general health practitioners? This is a great way to leverage your philanthropic dollars and broaden your exposure.

3. Vendors are Vital. Your vendors are committed to keeping your practice satisfied, and many of them already have a philanthropic line item in their budgets. Why not ask a vendor to help you co-sponsor an event that benefits the community?

4. The Big Give Back. Summit Eye Associates set aside 10 days to engage with the community in a variety of philanthropic ways. On one of the days, the doctors paid the utility bill of a patient who needed a helping hand; on another day, a boy with challenging vision problems was given a free pair of glasses; and on yet another day, the practice collected and delivered needed items to the battered women’s shelter. Concentrating philanthropy into a short, specific time-frame built anticipation and excitement, and provided a treasure trove of shareable images and stories for social media.

Hear ye, hear ye! Have an omni-channel messaging plan to spread the word (social media, e-blasts, press releases, videos, practice website) and don’t skimp on this element of the plan. Your cause marketing plan can only be great if people know about it. Having a persistent, ongoing relationship with your patients helps you to always stay top of mind with those you serve. A great tool that can help is a patient communication tool, like RevConnect, which allows you to stay in contact with your patients throughout the year, and not just during their office visit.

Despite the value of a cause marketing strategy, you will sometimes find yourself having to say “no” and you probably won’t stay involved with the same organizations year after year. It’s hard to turn good people away, but explaining that an organization is welcome to apply to be part of your future philanthropy efforts makes it much easier to say “no”. By making the cause marketing process competitive, you can also engage your staff in the selection process. Each year you and your staff can review the requests and select those that most closely align with the mission of your practice. Now here’s a good problem to have: Once your business philanthropy becomes more widely known, the requests will come fast and furious. Share your knowledge with another business and show them how to employ a cause marketing strategy of their own. You can be the leader in building a cadre of businesses that use cause marketing to enrich and support the community.

Very quickly, you will become known as the “practice that cares” and patients will flock to be part of your community because you are part of theirs.

To learn more about how to implement a cause marketing strategy in your practice, read Ann’s post, Cause Marketing – A Smart Strategy for Your Practice.