INSIDER: Cause-Related Marketing

November 1, 2008

By Chris Matcek, MBA/ME Candidate

How do your agency's marketing campaigns influence not just your customers but your agents as well? In Linking Cause-Related Marketing to Sales Force Responses and Performance in a Direct Selling Context (Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science) Brian V. Larson, Karen E. Flaherty, Alex R. Zablah, Tom J. Brown, and Joshua L. Wiener examine a sales force of 574 people to see how a philanthropic cause-related marketing effort affects the sales people's selling confidence, which in turn, leads to higher performance and increased sales. If the capability to reach both charitably-sensitive customers and increase your sales force's effectiveness, why not fully seize the opportunity? Please note, the industry studied here was not real estate, though the core findings will still be relevant to your field. The results of this research should not be applied blindly, but with serious thought as to how they might be relevant in your particular market. 1. "CSR [corporate social responsibility] activities have multiple audiences and ... these audiences should be taken into account in designing such programs." THINK: Make sure your marketing and charitable dollars are spent on programs that help attract customers and increase your agent's confidence and performance. 2. "For sales representatives, the presence of a cause promotion that is viewed positively by customers - a critically important audience for the sales force - should lead to higher levels of cognitive identification [overlap of reps personal beliefs with those of the organization's]." Marketing strategy THINK: If a cause-related campaign impresses your customers and your sales reps know it, they are more likely to close the sale due to their higher levels of confidence. 3. "Because individuals desire to be seen in a positive light, they actively monitor how others perceive the organization to which they belong." THINK: It is just as important how your sales reps perceive how others value their organization, not just how customers view the company. This outlook is often overlooked. 4. "Confidence drives people to initiate action, pursue it, and sustain persistence; as a result, they are more likely than their less confident counterparts to be successful performers." THINK: Your campaigns should focus on increasing confidence, not just social awareness. 5. "The firm's involvement in a well-received cause-related campaign serves to make the firm more attractive to prospective customers and gives the salesperson a competitive edge." THINK: Give your reps all the tools they can use to close a sale, especially if it is as straightforward as a cause-related campaign. 6. "The association between [how a sales rep believes the customer perceives a campaign] and selling confidence is stronger for employees who are low on identification with the company and weaker for employees who report high levels of identification with the company." THINK: The agents who do not fully believe in what your agency stands for show a higher level of benefit than the agents who do. This is an area of your agency that was previously believed to be hard to reach.

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About the Author:

Chris Matcek, MBA/ME Candidate, Dec 2008, Baylor University
Graduate Assistant, Keller Center for Research

Chris is a second year graduate student from Katy, Texas. His undergraduate degree is in Electrical and Computer Engineering and he is currently working on his Masters of Engineering and MBA.