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Causes and companies in symbiotic harmony

CAUSE-RELATED marketing is proving a valuable tool for businesses, according to a new survey by the Heart Foundation of Western Australia.

The survey of 600 Western Australians, undertaken by the University of WA Survey Research Centre, found that 89 per cent said they would switch to another brand if it supported a worthwhile cause.

The majority (64 per cent) said they would pay more if they switched to another brand that supported a worthwhile cause.

Major corporate groups such as Woodside and McDonald’s have been involved with cause-related marketing campaigns for many years.

Besides the marketing benefits, some companies have re-ported human resources benefits as well.

The Heart Foundation recently undertook a lucrative cause-related marketing campaign with Automotive Holdings Group.

The promotion involved $100 being donated to the Heart Foundation for each car sold across a 5.5-day period.

AHG marketing manager Michelle Harris said the company had previously run a similar campaign with the Returned Servicemen’s League.

“I think it’s a wonderful way to give back to the community, but along with that, it’s just good business sense,” she said.

“It’s all about trying to deliver a message to the public in the most believable way.

“You have to remember that the public aren’t silly.”

AHG’s campaign with the RSL was the first time that it had attempted selling cars on a mass basis.

The company was also in the midst of a major branding campaign, changing its focus from a dealership-based one to an overall brand.

“We measure the effectiveness of every campaign that we run but you can’t measure the goodwill that’s generated by this. You just have to go with your gut instinct,” Ms Harris said.

She said the company was choosy about who it partnered with.

“If we took on everybody that came to our door we wouldn’t make any money,” Ms Harris said.

Magenta director and WA Business News 40under40 winner Melissa Lekias said cause-related marketing could be a very effective way of lifting the profile of both the company and the charity.

“But you have to go into it with the right level of commitment,” she said.

“There has to be an awareness that the company is gaining a return from it but you also have to realise that you are doing it to support that cause.

“You also have to get your staff behind it and then they’re out there as ambassadors for the cause.”

Indeed, Ernst & Young managing partner Michael Minosora said his firm had backed a major golf-day fundraising event with Foodbank because it offered good team-building opportunities.

Mr Minosora had been approached by Foodbank to donate money to an appeal it was running and he instead suggested putting Ernst & Young’s marketing department behind creating an ongoing event that would benefit the charity.

“We, some time ago, em-barked on creating a community-based organisation. In a lot of ways that makes this a better place to work,” he said.

Mr Minosora admitted the firm’s involvement in things such as the Foodbank event were costly.

“Especially when you compare the hours that staff have donated to what we would have given as a cash donation,” he said.

“The financial benefits are not the reason we do it and we didn’t go out to create a profile for EY. It was more of a human resources and team building thing.”

Mr Minosora said the benefit to the firm came from a low turnover rate and a dedicated staff.

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