By Brian Fitzgerald of Pandadoc.  Originally posted on Medium.

In today’s crowded marketplaces, organizations have to work harder than ever to break through the clutter and connect with their audiences. So why burn hours and resources doing the same thing as everyone else, when your efforts might go mostly unnoticed? Rather than doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results, one way you can take your marketing message a step further is by aligning your brand with a cause that your consumers can relate to.

When properly executed, cause-marketing campaigns not only effectively communicate your key messages, they also have an impact on sales. In fact, according to a recent study conducted by Unilever, “33 percent of consumers buy from brands doing social or environmental good.”

Studies also show that with price and quality being equal, consumers are more likely to buy products that support a cause over products that aren’t. Some will go as far as switching to a new brand affiliated with a cause they support.

PandaDoc, and other likeminded companies, believe that being a good corporate citizen is just as important as delivering the best products and services available on the market. That is why they work hard to serve the public good by investing in programs and partnerships that make the world a better place.

That said, as attractive as cause-marketing may seem, executing a solid campaign is not an easy process. But here are some steps you can follow that will help you craft a great cause-marketing strategy.

Do Your Homework

Before you decide to support a specific cause, it is important that you are as informed as possible about what the cause is and what it stands for. Find out what the capabilities and limitations are and what synergies can make a partnership mutually beneficial. Ask questions to make sure the cause and your brand are compatible. Also, make sure to vet any organization you partner with. Ask for their financial records, or look them up on to make sure that you are partnering with a legitimate cause.

Know Your Brand

As important as it is to know who you are partnering with, it is even more important to be clear about what your brand stands for and how it relates to the cause you are supporting. Having a clear understanding of what your brand represents, and your consumer’s expectations, will go a long way in creating a campaign that will work well for both your organization and the cause you support.

It Takes Teamwork

When starting a cause-marketing campaign, the partnership between your brand and your cause should be felt at all levels of your organization. Make sure that your employees and team support the partnership and are engaged in helping both parties meet their goals.

Set Goals

Partnering with a cause is a long-term commitment. Both partners must set a manageable plan for your campaign together and agree on key milestones and deliverables.

Give It Your All

In addition to alignment with your brand and your consumers, the cause you take on must be near and dear to your heart. If your organization doesn’t fully support the cause you are aligning with, then all the work you put in will be for not.

The PandaDoc Corporate Social Responsibility program was developed with the “Pandas Helping People” mantra as its cornerstone. The company invests in scalable and self-sustaining programs that use innovation to meet some of the society’s biggest challenges. The primary areas of focus include human rights, gender equality and social equity.

PandaDoc is also committed to the Pledge 1% effort, which was spearheaded by Atlassian, Rally, Salesforce and Tides to accelerate their shared vision around integrating philanthropy into businesses around the world. Pledge 1% encourages and challenges individuals and companies to pledge 1% of equity, product and employee time for their communities, because pledging a small portion of future success can have a huge impact on tomorrow.

I encourage anyone working within the Salesforce ecosystem to give Pledge 1% a look.

I also recommend that any organizations working in the Science and Technology fields support Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics (S.T.E.A.M.) Education initiatives. These initiatives are key to making sure we have the people and resources needed to drive future developments and innovations. Innovation Station has a program that was developed to expose S.T.E.A.M. education to rural, underserved communities in the U.S. To date, the program has connected with over 300,000 people. I am sure they would love to hear from you.

That said, find a cause that works for your organization and start building your cause-marketing strategy today. Your brand, and the world, will be all the better for it!

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