Hal Lublin on March 2nd, 2010

Do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do.

Yes. This blog is focused on business, and how to use social media tools to generate business and enhance marketing. I get that. Let there henceforth be an implicit agreement ‘twixt us (yes, I just went old school on you) that the subject matter of this blog, by and large, is understood. Just because we’re in business to make money doesn’t mean that we should do that without heart and soul.

During the Gravity Summit last week, a presentation was made on Cause Marketing – if you’re unfamiliar, it’s when a company strategically aligns itself with a non-profit organization in a mutually beneficial relationship; the charity benefits from raised awareness and the brand benefits from the publicity. I have no problem with cause marketing, because it’s an idea that in and of itself is harmless at the very least and life-changing at best. The real problem I had was the presentation I saw, in which a commodity leveraged a charity to differentiate itself. The whole talk made me feel sick to my stomach, and the angry tweets I was firing off at the time are a good indicator of that.

I know Cause Marketing is a form of marketing – it says it right there in the name! I think, however, that there are companies that approach charity more as an obligation and privilege and less as the road to increased marketing share. Do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do.

I’m not saying that you should ignore any benefits you get from charitable work – I’m just saying that they shouldn’t be your main motivator all the time. The foot you put forward makes all the difference here. Instead of hearing the story of a company using their considerable resources to make the world better place and the side effects they brought, I was treated to what seemed like an endless parade of bar graphs, pie charts and statistics touting increased marketing share and Paris Hilton tweeting about them. For all of the gentleman’s talk about how great charity has been for business, I had two thoughts running through my head:

  1. I’m glad to know about the charity
  2. I will avoid this company’s products like the plague

Clearly this is a personal opinion, but I don’t think charity is about campaigns. It’s about people making a difference in any way they can because they have the ability to facilitate change. Does everyone need to know that you make big donations? No. Do you make donations so you can tell people about it and come off as a hero? I don’t know. Only you can answer that. I just want you to consider this: Do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do.

I don’t know if I believe in altruism, but I do believe that intention is every bit as important as action, for anyone that wants to engage in the “So what? The charity got some benefit too…” argument. In cause marketing, seems like there’s a fine line between being a saint and being a weasel sometimes. For me, that line was crossed.

Do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do.

How do you feel about this? Am I off-base?

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