The Journey to Yes

Nine Steps to Success in Cause Marketing

David Betke

Read Time: Approximately 7 minutes  

This week I would like to talk about the nine critical questions your team has to answer to create a successful cause marketing plan, so you can change the world for 1/2 the cost and 1/2 the effort... without losing any more hair.

I received several group comments stating that this was just as relevant to small business marketing. It sure is! So let's dig right in.

If you can answer all 9 of these questions with your team, you have the basis for a killer cause marketing plan in writing.

Question #1- Can You Communicate Your Goal In Concrete Terms?

Please be as personal and specific as possible because anyone who is going to join you, share their audiences with you, or fund you wants to know the specifics.

Your goal needs to be realistic and attainable. Replace the abstract with the concrete:


"We want to end homelessness."

This is an admirable goal, but it is too large for most people to resonate with. They just can't picture how.


But if you say, " we want to end homelessness in (name your city) by 2020 through city council cooperation, public and private donors... see our plan at (your site). People can see the possibilities and what THEY can do right now to help.

To review, make that goal lofty but attainable; use specific numbers if you can, as well as a specific location and timeline.

Question #2- Do You Have A Plan In Priority Sequence?

What is a priority sequence? It is simply breaking your large goal into logical, sequential steps so you can focus your team ( and your budget) where they need to be focused when they need to be focused.

Each step in the sequence needs to be clear, prioritized and delegated appropriate resources with a finite timeline.

Most important: They must be written down and shared with your team.

The more concrete the steps, the more actionable they will be.

First, you must identify all your stakeholders. This includes your paid employees, your volunteers, your supporters, your funders, your government contacts, and your opposition.

Then you have to identify the order in which these people need to be contacted and what resources they will need to decide to join you, give you their support, or (in the case of your opposition) be enticed to the table.

Question# 3- Do You Have Decision-Making Guidelines?

It seems so simple but is often ignored. Passionate people get to work. They accomplish a great deal, but without a plan, they start duplicating effort, having sidebars and then questioning who needs to approve something before it is released.

Your plan should include decision-making guidelines. It should include who is responsible for making decisions and approving what. It can be a quorum, a coordinating committee, a communications team, or an executive director. But there must be guidelines to empower passionate people to continue without being bogged down by worrying about who needs to approve their workflow.

Question# 4 Do You Know Whom You Need To Influence and When?

In step #2, we identified stakeholders. These are generic groups like the government, the public, taxpayers, supporters, and the opposition.

Now we will go deeper and put individual faces to those groups.

Let's say we identified that the first group we need to influence is the government; let's identify precisely who in the government we need to contact and what our desired outcome is from our communication with that person(s).

Be sure to include their name(s) in our written priority sequence and the desired outcome.

Do not go down rabbit holes or be distracted by anything else. The first thing is first. We will fall if we skip too many steps, just like on a staircase.

Question# 5 Do You Know What They Need To Hear To Say Yes?

We take the information from above, and now we determine what those groups' key triggers are. What the government needs to hear to support us is often very different than what a key funder or a member of the general public needs to hear.

This is where our grassroots research really comes into play. Each group in our priority sequence has different needs, triggers, and even language they will respond to.

The better we can understand their key goals and key triggers, and the better we can frame our message in their language, the more successful we will be at bringing them on side.

Question# 6 Do You Know What Resources They Need To Make It Easier To Say Yes?

This is the golden key missing from so many marketing campaigns. It is what has made our most successful campaigns as successful as they have been.

How do we make it easy for each audience to say yes?

Each group has different needs and requires different resources and even a different path to make a decision to say yes to supporting us.

A government representative may only require a brief. We can't waste their time with flowery language and a pretty brochure.

The corporate funder needs to have a clear path of how supporting us will benefit her business in brand equity, legacy, or loyalty. The more homework we can do, the better.

The general public may need social media, a website, email signup for updates, and a pretty brochure they can share.

Each group needs a clear and easy path to yes. By anticipating their needs, we can provide that path.

A priority sequence is essential to focusing our core group on creating and launching the resources for the appropriate groups at the appropriate time.

Question# 7 Have You Appointed a Communications Team?

A communications team is essential to maintaining the consistency of your message & to ensure that your team is on sequence. That is that they are focused on researching and creating resources for the appropriate groups you need to influence in the order you need to influence them.

All information that is being sent externally should be filtered through your communications group so they can ensure your message is singular and stays on brand.

Failure to do this leads to message fragmenting, which can lead to losing your credibility as a cause. Fragmenting can also lead to misinformation. This can divert much-needed resources away from your cause.

Question# 8 Are You Delegating Effectively?

Determine who will be responsible for each task in your priority sequence and delegate to strengths if possible.

After answering the first eight questions, we know WHOM we need to influence to achieve our goal, WHAT they need to say yes to, and the resources they will need to make their journey easier.

We have a written sequence of whom we need to influence and in what order. Now we can start leveraging the strengths of our group by delegating to strengths. We can create teams to focus on each task in the sequence.

Remember it is important that all of this information is filtered through the communications team to craft the message and resources for each group we target.

Question# 9 Are You Regularly Sharing Your Research?

Passionate people often tend to compartmentalize. We often put our heads down and bulldog through our tasks. Unfortunately, when we don't look up or share, we often find that someone else's discovery has changed the assumptions we are working on.

It is critical to regularly share our research and progress. I would suggest regular meetings where you read aloud what you have each discovered and created. It's amazing how many new connections and discoveries arise from this simple exercise.

Try it! Let me know how many new connections you make from seemingly unconnected material.

If you devote the time and effort to answering these nine questions, you will have the basis for a very effective cause marketing plan.

The most impressive result is that you will accomplish more, and you will accomplish it faster and for less money. You will reduce duplication of effort and keep your team engaged and focused because they now have a clear action plan.

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About The Author

David Betke has dedicated his career to helping brands that give back make a bigger difference. His campaigns have helped save a 65 000-acre forest forever, reduced carbon emissions in a city measurably, and helped recruit three senior engineers during the height of a labor crisis. One even generated a 6000% return within six months and attracted many great customers for life. David has been recognized with seven national marketing awards.