Updated: Jan 8, 2021
As a lawyer, the positive work you do should extend beyond the services you offer clients. If your brand is not yet associated with a specific issue or societal problem, cause marketing could revitalize your law firm’s branding and establish your firm as an integral part of your greater community.
Cause marketing involves aligning your brand with an issue and getting involved with that issue through advocacy, fundraising, education, or volunteer work. This is a marketing strategy that benefits everyone involved. Charities and nonprofit organizations enjoy greater awareness and the financial backing that comes with brand support, law firms build a stronger social presence and gain consumer trust, and consumers have a greater variety of options when selecting services and products. Given the circumstances surrounding the coronavirus, law firms and lawyers in particular are in a position to help our community in this way.
Why Cause Marketing Works
The research surrounding cause marketing points to one conclusion: it works. Research published by CNN indicates that:
• 92% of consumers have a more positive image of a company that supports a social or environmental cause
• 87% of consumers say they would purchase from a company that advocated for a cause that consumers care about
• 86% of American expect brands to go beyond making a profit and contribute to important social causes
In particular, cause marketing resonates with millennials. Over 70% of millennials have faith that companies will spark needed change and take a leadership role in societal causes. Millennial consumers’ views of companies are determined by the causes they support and their advocacy efforts. Statistics show that millennials genuinely believe they can affect change by becoming involved in causes. Cause marketing is a way to set yourself apart from legal industry peers and stand out to socially conscious-minded consumers. The thought here is that your law firm can do well and do good.
Selecting a Cause
You likely have several causes that you and your law firm are passionate about. This is a good place to begin your search. If you are personally invested in a cause, that dedication will come through in your marketing efforts, and sincerity is a valued trait in cause marketing.
There are two different approaches that brands take when aligning with a cause. The first is to choose something with broad appeal and approval, an approach that is unlikely to garner unwanted controversy but may lead you away from causes you love. The second is to take a strong stance on a controversial issue, knowing that you may alienate some who are in staunch disagreement but may also build loyalty among those who share your stance. Consider the Nike campaign supporting Colin Kaepernick, perhaps one of the most controversial figures of the decade. While Nike received a lot of negative backlash, they were prepared for it. Per Awario, the campaign sparked numerous conversations on the issue and ultimately their stock prices hit a new high.
As an attorney, careful evaluation is necessary. Think about the possible backlash or controversy that may arise, and weigh that against the good you can do if you choose that cause. You may also want to do some research on how a cause is perceived among your target market. No matter how passionately devoted to a cause you are, if your stance puts you in direct opposition to your target market, it may not be the right choice for your business.
In most situations, cause marketing is solely beneficial. However, customers notice when a brand’s message does not align with its chosen cause. While consumers want to support brands that give back to worthy causes, they do not appreciate brands aligning with apparently random causes to pad their own bottom line. Consider the Buckets for the Cure initiative, a partnership between KFC and the Susan G. Komen Foundation. During this campaign, KFC donated $0.50 to breast cancer research for every bucket of chicken sold. Consumers were quick to point out the link between over consumption of healthy food and breast cancer risk, implying that the partnership was not grounded in a sincere desire to help.
Linking Your Cause with Your Professional Goals
If you select a cause that is related to your area of practice, you can engage in activities that both benefit your cause and help you professionally. For example, an immigration attorney dedicated to helping families might give pro-bono bilingual legal support to parents after school hours and provide on-site child care, helping an underserved population by removing financial and child care barriers. A family law attorney who partners with a domestic abuse shelter may provide pro bono divorce and custody support to victims of domestic abuse. An insurance law attorney may run informational seminars for policyholders who don’t know their rights, a move that both serves their target market and establishes them as an authority in their area of practice.
Cause marketing offers you the opportunity to use your position in the community to pioneer change, drive awareness to issues, and impact your community for years to come—all while building your law firm and reaching new potential clients. In the time of the 2020 viral outbreak, there are many areas of our community that could use a partnership with a law firm. We are seeing elderly populations affected, immunosuppressed populations and even the homeless. Small businesses, restaurants, and people that work in the tourism could use advice, guidance, and financial support from people that know the law. For law firms, the pandemic is a time to help through cause marketing - for the right reasons.
Meranda M. Vieyra is the owner of Denver Legal Marketing LLC. She is one of the most visible legal professionals in Colorado law with over 20 years of service in the Denver legal community. Her award-winning marketing firm has earned a strong reputation as the go-to for impactful, cost-effective legal marketing strategies. She has helped her clients secure coverage by well-known publications and has obtained local, national, and international awards on their behalf. Meranda enjoys working with solo practitioners and small law firms helping them attract recognition, promotion, and visibility to their practices. She also advises medium-sized and national law firms on business development and marketing strategy. Meranda is a lecturer and author on issues related to marketing including how lawyers can use LinkedIn effectively, how to develop a personal brand, and the promotion of legal services through community service. In 2018, she was honored to be named to the 40 Under 40 list by the Denver Business Journal and to be given the 10 Under 10 Award by the Metropolitan State University of Denver Alumni Association (top 10 alum of the decade). In 2019, Meranda was named in the Top 25 Most Powerful Women in Business by the Colorado Women's Chamber of Commerce and in the Top 100 young professionals in Colorado through the Gen XYZ Awards published by ColoradoBiz Magazine.
For more information, go to www.DenverLegalMarketing.com