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HomemibusinessThe benefits of cause-Related Marketing

The benefits of cause-Related Marketing

Cause marketing or cause-related marketing (CRM) is not philanthropy or altruism. It is based on the recognition by businesses that working with charities or good causes can be mutually beneficial providing a win-win-win situation for businesses, causes and consumers.

The creation of the term ‘cause-related marketing’ (CRM) has been attributed to the American Express card company. Back in 1983 when American Express chose to raise money to restore the Statue of Liberty they decided to donate just one cent for every card transaction to the cause. The result of the promotion was that card usage grew by 28 per cent and the number of new card holders increased by 45 per cent.

“In more recent years cause-related marketing has come to describe a wider variety of marketing initiatives based on the cooperative efforts of business and charitable causes.”

In more recent years cause-related marketing has come to describe a wider variety of marketing initiatives based on the cooperative efforts of business and charitable causes.

So What?

Why do companies get involved in CRM? The obvious answer is to demonstrate social responsibility. Supporting a good cause can help a company’s image and can increase a customer’s commitment to it. Secondly, CRM can differentiate one brand from another, and thirdly, it can help increase revenue.

CRM can help to build loyalty to a company or brand and provides a reason to ignore sales and promotions of similar organisations and to keep returning to them.1 Of course, the other reason is because the owner or manager wants to make a difference.

CRM, however, is more than just sticking a charity’s logo on a product and expecting the public to react. There must be a close link from the product to the cause for the reaction of the customer to be transferred from the cause to the product. For example, think Kleenex, think cute Labrador puppy, think Guide Dogs Australia.

Today, CRM is used around the world by companies in industries as diverse as pharmaceuticals through to banks. According to Melbourne-based, CRM consultancy, Cavill & Co., managing director, Hailey Cavill, consumers regard good corporate citizenship as a critical part of their buying decision. It is suggested that as many as six out of ten consumers expect companies to be involved with supporting charitable or community causes.2

Another great example is The Procter & Gamble Company donating the cost of one dose of tetanus vaccine (equivalent to about seven cents) to UNICEF for every specially marked pack of Pampers products sold. Beautiful bouncing healthy children both here and in the developing world – isn’t that a reason to buy their products?

So what’s this got to do with optometry and how does this apply to a practice?

Supporting the Profession

You may have thought that cause-related marketing was something only large corporations could do. Not so. The ophthalmic professions have an array of great organisations to become involved with on a corporate level including, The Fred Hollows Foundation and Vision2020, and more specifically on an optometric level, the optometry professions charity of choice Optometry Giving Sight.

Take the example of our very own mivision. The publishers of mivision, decided very early on in the life of the magazine, after only a couple of issues, that it was their moral, social and business responsibility to put back in and support the industry they were representing.

The publishers are passionate about causerelated marketing and provide enormous marketing support at no charge to each of the above eyecare causes. In fact, in most cases, the publishers provide as much (if not more) support to a charitable cause each issue, than they do to full rate paying corporate partners.

They understand the benefits of partnering with like-minded organisations who aim to make a difference to eye health of Indigenous Australia and Third World countries.

You only need look at where mivision is today to see the benefits of making causerelated marketing a foundational principle of your business.

I Still Don’t Get It

As with many businesses, optometry practices are also looking to support a cause that is relevant to their business. Another reason for the optical professions to implement CRM includes the possibility of increased customer loyalty.

Patients are likely to return to the same practice if they like and trust them. Seeing their optometrist giving to a cause they can relate to is likely to affect their perception of the practice in a positive way. This is particularly so as an optometry patient understands the importance of good vision better than anyone.

In the current economic climate customer loyalty is vital. With people tightening their belts and bracing for the worst, now is the time to foster fidelity. A cause related marketing campaign could be the reason your patients keep coming back to your practice rather than just going for the cheaper option. Often it’s during the tough times that people give – there is always someone in greater need.

Seeing Eye to Eye

Optometry Giving Sight’s ‘Seeing Eye to Eye’ campaign provides optometry practices with the opportunity to get involved in CRM. The ‘Seeing Eye to Eye’ program simply involves picking a product or service and donating between AUD$2 to 5 for each sale.

Optometry Giving Sight provides posters and counter cards to promote the practice’s involvement to patients. Communicating your commitment to ending refractive error blindness to your local community is an important part of the program and Optometry Giving Sight can assist with placing a press release in your local paper. Your support of ‘Seeing Eye to Eye’ is a great story that your local paper will want to tell.

CRM is easy to do and it’s good for business. For more information about Optometry Giving Sight’s ‘Seeing Eye to Eye’ program: email: australia@givingsight.org phone: (AUS) 1300 88 10 73 visit: www.givingsight.org

Cause-Related Marketing in Practice

Dale Rolfe of O’Neil and Rolfe Optometrists, in NSW, explains why his practice uses causerelated marketing to support Optometry Giving Sight.

“Like all small businesses we were constantly being asked for donations to charities from both local and nationwide organisations. Giving a couple of dollars here and there really gave us no sense of accomplishment and so two years ago we decided to choose one local and one larger charity so we could see that the money we gave made a difference.

“Choosing Optometry Giving Sight was an easy choice as we understood what the goals of this charity were, and being members of Eyecare Plus, we thought it was a good idea to support our corporate charity to make an even larger difference. “We looked at different ways we could help and decided that for every frame we sold we would make a donation to Optometry Giving Sight.

“We also have a collection box and ask for small donations for minor repairs.

“This system works well and our patients, staff and I all feel better for the difference that we make. Many patients will comment on what a good thing it is for a business to donate and make a difference.

“We particularly find that having a collection box and asking for donations for small repairs is received very well.

“For years we had done these services for no charge and it is surprising what people will donate when they appreciate a service and understand the difference to people’s lives having spectacles makes.

“Often when we describe what Optometry Giving Sight is all about and ask people to imagine their lives without their spectacles they understand that a donation can really provide a life changing aid for those who previously had no access to eye care.

“We promote our involvement with Optometry Giving Sight whenever we frequently reference our support in our newsletters.

“I’d recommend anyone who would like to participate in ‘Seeing Eye to Eye’ as a way of supporting Optometry Giving Sight to go for it. It shows the community that you are a responsible and caring business.

Your staff will also feel great about helping others that are less fortunate,” says Dale Rolfe.

Jo Humphries is the Communications Manager for Optometry Giving Sight. She has worked with eye care charitable organisations for the last nine years, including three years at Vision 2020: The Right to Sight in their global office in London.


  1. www.australiancoucil.gov.au
  2. www.bandt.com.au/news/ad/0c0146ad.asp