What Sponsors Should Measure in Cause Marketing Campaigns

If you’re the sponsor of a cause marketing campaign, you’re in the green room, you’re in a makeup chair and you’re sitting pretty.

Here’s what I mean. When I was writing the Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) Telethon a representative from one of CMN’s largest sponsors used to avail herself of the same makeup services provided for celebrity hosts and guests. Strictly speaking this was verboten. While she appeared on air during sponsor segments, CMN had a separate makeup area for sponsors.

She had some thin excuse why she couldn’t use the regular makeup services… skin allergies or something. At any rate, everyone from CMN in a position to raise the issue with her chose to just let it go. She had a volcanic temper and if she took up a little face time with an honest-to-pete Hollywood makeup artist, what did it really matter?

It’s not so different when it comes to evaluating the success of a cause marketing campaign. While the cause and agency in a cause marketing campaign should have their own criteria for measuring a campaign’s success, the criteria that matters most comes from the sponsor.

It’s the golden rule in action; she who has the gold makes the rules.

So what should the sponsor measure and evaluate?
  • Social media 'expressions' and their quality.
  • Dollars raised (if it’s that kind of campaign).
  • New customers (if it's that kind of campaign).
  • Customer opinion surveys measured against prior years.
  • The campaign as it compares against competitors and similar campaigns.
  • Old media impressions data.
  • Some sort of measure(s) of pathology. That is, where things are going wrong. If 65 percent of stakeholders complain about the same five things about your campaign, you've got a punch list.
When it comes to gauging external audiences, most of these measurements suggest themselves and so I won’t go further.

Measuring expressions is a new metric that has come with the rise of social media. It gauges how much traffic your brand gets away from your direct control: Tweets, fans/friends on Facebook, bookmarks on the social bookmark sites like Digg, Delicious, love from bloggers, and the like. People don't have to say nice things or not so nice things about your campaign or brand. To the degree that they do, it's worth measuring.

I would argue that one area that sponsors, nonprofits and agencies frequently miss is the measurement of their internal audiences, including rank and file employees, vendors, partners, etc.

A well-imagined and executed cause marketing campaign can help give a company real personality. Cause marketing at some companies helps with employee loyalty and retention. Moreover, with their money or their time, internal audiences often ‘pay’ for a good chunk of cause marketing campaigns.

Wouldn’t it be good to know if your employees find the campaign to be unrewarded drudgery? Or, that your vendors would happily pay more for their participation in the celebrity golf tourney? Isn’t that information worth knowing as you mull over your participation in next year’s campaign?
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