UPDATE: Cause marketing advice from Toyota

Wednesday I posted about why I thought Toyota’s recent 100 Cars for Good program passed the test as a quality cause-marketing effort.  I was then fortunate enough to connect with Michael Kroll, Community Relations Manager for Toyota Sales USA – at their Torrence, CA office. So, being ever-curious-me, I asked a few questions…

Nathan: What was the strategy behind the program? More marketing, more giving? Or an even mix of both?

Michael: The focus of the 100 Cars for Good program was on giving.  Toyota believes that motor vehicles, and the mobility they provide, contribute to the betterment of society.  They can be particularly useful in enhancing the good works of charitable organizations in local communities, fulfilling their transportation needs to help extend the reach and efficiency of their efforts.

Nathan: Many companies spend more money advertising about good they do – than what they spend doing the good.  Why did Toyota choose NOT to greatly advertise the program to the greater market?

Michael: We are very sensitive toward directing our resources for the greatest impact.  Social media provided a very efficient means for us to get the word out about the program, allowing us to invest more in the local communities.   The shareable nature of social media also empowered the non-profits to spread the word about the program and their cause at the same time.

Nathan: Was their a measurable increase in positive language on social media, dealer visits or purchases?

Michael: Through our tracking mechanisms we did see an uptick for the Toyota brand in the context of online discussion about the 100 Cars for Good program.

Nathan: What advice would you give to large or small brands/businesses about engaging in cause-marketing?

Michael: First, do it for the right reason.  Focus on the giving first and the rest will take care of itself.  Second, do it in a way that is a natural fit for your brand.  By offering what you do best, whether it be your products or your expertise, your contribution can be a game-changer with lasting benefits for a non-profit.

Thanks for the insight Michael.

88% of Americans think companies should do more for the community and 87% would switch to a social/cause oriented brand with other factors being equal (Cone Cause Evolution and Environmental study).  More companies can and should do more – and can get results.  What do you think?

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