June 24, 2020
Case Study

7 Examples of Using Marketing to Become a Force for the Good


Marketing is more than just selling stuff.

It’s about connecting the right person with the right opportunity so they can make the best decision.

To inspire your own marketing, we bring you seven examples of using marketing to become a force for the good.

Read on for examples from a wine club, IT company, test prep company, marketing startup, nonprofit tourist attraction, and shapewear company.

by Daniel Burstein, Senior Director, Content & Marketing, MarketingSherpa and MECLABS Institute

force for good 7 examples

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MarketingExperiments has recently launched a show called “The Marketer as Philosopher: Become a Force for the Good.” If you haven’t seen it yet, here’s the first episode (MarketingExperiments is the sister publication of MarketingSherpa).

In the show, marketers can learn powerful marketing techniques and help grow a worthy nonprofit.

To help get your creative juices flowing to improve your own marketing — and participate in the show if you so choose — we’ve searched out examples of people and companies using the power of marketing for the good. Here are seven examples.

Example #1: Wine club for small, independent vintners increases sales 86% through the pandemic

“People do not pay for average” is one of John C. Maxwell’s “21 Laws of Leadership.” When I taught an internal class at MECLABS about Maxwell’s laws, this law got a little push back. “That’s not true. People eat at Applebee’s every day,” someone in the classic remarked.

Funny line, but he made a good point. And it got me thinking.

People pay for what they have readily available access to. In modern-day America, and many other places in the world, that often comes from a large corporation. And frankly, it’s often an average product.

But marketing can be a force for the good and provide access to truly great products as well. For example, Martin and Denise Cody created a digital marketplace for small business wineries to share their talent and artistry. Plus, a portion of proceeds from Cellar Angels goes to charities like Save the Family Farms.

Before the pandemic, memberships were steadily growing. And during the shelter-in-place period of the pandemic, sales even went up, thanks to a quick pivot and development of a new program called SIP. The program featured Zoom sessions with a vintner, live from their tasting room in Napa while members were sheltering in place experiencing the product.

April/May sales were 86% higher over 2019. That also means contributions to charitable partners went up.

“Think of ways to serve your membership that supersede existing conditions. Cellar Angels have implemented a program contacting one customer per day JUST to check in and see how they’re doing, not selling them, just checking in and saying hello. They love the personal connection,” said Martin A. Cody, President and Co-Founder, Cellar Angels.

Example #2: IT company helps 120 webinar attendees with job search advice

Who can create value in your organization? Everyone.

Companies often look at some roles in an organization as cost centers or overhead; they are left on the sidelines as the company focuses on the main value creators who design products, deliver services or close deals.

But if you take that attitude, you are leaving talent on the sidelines. Get them into the game. Here’s a great example.

“Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, we were all looking for ways to give back and help others out. Being an IT firm, we weren’t positioned to pivot into manufacturing hand sanitizer or PPE masks,” said Colton DeVos, Marketing and Communications Specialist, Resolute Technology Solutions.

So they looked at what resources they did have. They had marketing capabilities. And they had human resources knowhow.

They decided to produce a webinar led by Marny Barnes, Senior Recruiter, Resolute Technology Solutions.

“She had been connecting with people where this was the first time in twenty years that they had to touch up their resumes and start applying for new jobs as they, along with many others, were laid off due to the pandemic,” De Vos said. 

The team promoted the webinar using content marketing, social media posts in groups and to its audiences, email marketing, referral word of mouth marketing, and working with their local IT association.

“While we needed to leverage many marketing tactics to get the word out about the webinar, we didn’t collect any information for selling to the audience. The presentation’s sole purpose was to educate people, give them a platform to ask questions, and get feedback in an area that is really stressful for people,” De Vos said.

The team had 120 people sign up for the live webinar or download the recording after it was over, and all the feedback was positive. “It was nice to be able to use marketing skills in a way that really brought people together and was able to reduce a bit of the stress in this hectic climate,” he said.

Example #3: Scholarship gets 100 applicants for test prep company

thorndykeAs part of your marketing strategy, you need to get the word out about your company. Can you do so in a way that does something good for your prospects?

For example, a way for education companies to get brand recognition and publicity is to offer a scholarship. “This is a great place where marketing and company interest intersects with doing good for the community and sharing your success with others,” Kristine Thorndyke, Founder, Test Prep Nerds.

Last year, the college, university and medical school test prep site offered a $500 scholarship to a student who was embarking on the first year in medical school. It received about 100 applicants for this scholarship.

“I think it is my moral obligation to help others succeed and with our own continued growth, we plan on expanding our annual scholarships to a range of students including those who are headed to college, law school, and specific graduate programs,” Thorndyke said.

Example #4: Content-focused approach generates more than 100,000 views for tutoring and coaching service

Another way to do good for prospects when marketing to them is by simply helping them, whether they purchase from you or not. Content marketing is an effective tactic for this kind of help.

Since Grad Coach works on a one-on-one basis, it is only accessible to a relatively small proportion of students. The team found that they were getting a lot of students approaching them with similar requests but didn’t have the budget to engage with the tutoring, teaching and coaching service.

“We decided to produce a set of YouTube videos that provide detailed, but plain-language, easy-to-understand lessons covering these questions,” said Derek Jansen, founder, Grad Coach International. For example, they produced videos about how to find a quality research topic, how to write a research proposal, and how to write a literature review.

While there are CTAs on the videos where students can follow and find out more about Grad Coach, it is a soft sell. “These lessons are completely non-promotional, and we do not allow YouTube advertising on them, so as to minimize student distraction,” Jansen said.

Grad Coach’s YouTube channel has received more than 100,000 views with 99% positive ratings. “This might sound like small fry for YouTube, but these are big numbers for our space — research education. More importantly, if you read through the comments, you’ll notice that so many students are coming from third-world countries and previously struggled to understand the concepts until they found the videos,” Jansen said.

Example #5: Sending platform helps raise $60,000 for charity with flexible gift card

Marketing is most effective when you can tap deeply into customer motivation. Data analysis and A/B testing can help you zero in on those motivations. But when you aren’t able to home in on the motivations, at least provide options.

For example, Sendoso is a marketing startup that calls itself a sending platform and makes it easy to send gifts to customers and prospects. It created the Charity Choice eGift card to allow marketers to email prospects, buyers and customers an eGift card that can be gifted to a charitable organization of the customer’s choosing.

Recipients may select from hundreds of nationally recognized charity organizations or search for local charities that could benefit from their support. “Sendoso Charity Choice eGifts partners include organizations caring for those impacted by COVID-19, such as American Red Cross, Meals on Wheels and United Way,” said Dan Frohnen, CMO, Sendoso.

Over the month of March, Sendoso saw users donate $60,000 to charitable organizations.

Example #6: Nonprofit tourist attraction generates $23,000 in donations while it is closed for COVID-19

During COVID-19 lockdowns, the ability to use marketing channels to communicate became vital for many organizations. No longer could they rely on physical locations, they needed digital channels to continue their mission.

For example, Loggerhead Marinelife Center — a sea turtle and ocean conservation center — was forced to shuts its doors to the public for two months because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As a free, donation-based center, it's also important for us to receive door donation from daily visitors. In light of this unfortunate event, we turned to our social media platforms to continue to involve our supporters and global community members in sea turtle and ocean conservation,” said Amanda Moore, Senior Manager of Integrated Marketing and Partnerships, Loggerhead Marinelife Center.

Before closing to the public for two months, the center hosted guests of all ages on campus and engaged them in ocean conservation through daily educational programs and Outdoor Sea Turtle Hospital Tours for visitors to meet patients. Normally, guests travel all over the world to experience the campus in person.

After the Center closed to the public due to COVID-19, it launched a Virtual Coastal Classroom (VCC) on social media and increased the educational content on social media outlets. The VCC consisted of free, educational videos accompanied by free resources, activities and quizzes for at-home learning. To keep audiences engaged, they added more educational blogs and virtual experiences as well.

“During our sixty-day closure to the public, we generated nearly $23,000 in donations, more than 4.3 million impressions, and 1.48 billion media impressions, including coverage by PEOPLE Magazine, The TODAY Show, Forbes, CNN, and Lonely Planet,” Moore said.

Example #7: Shapewear company generates 12 million video views for advocacy campaign

When a crisis hits, companies can pitch in with monetary contributions, products and services. But their marketing voice and experience can also help.

“We noticed that in the UK where they celebrate Mother’s Day in March, they had to make urgent decisions and deliver communications to protect moms, and they weren’t effective. Given our experience reaching millions of consumers daily, we had a role to play in this because now it wasn’t just about delivering a message, it was about taking responsibility and helping,” said Massimiliano Tirocchi, co-founder and CMO, Shapermint

So they went to work to raise awareness of a very simple idea as the COVID-19 pandemic spread — Americans could literally save their moms’ lives by not visiting them on Mother’s Day. Shapermint launched the #MakeTheCall campaign to encourage women to call their mothers instead of visiting them. The company created a public service announcement-style video created entirely from video calls between six real-life mothers and daughters.

The video generated more than 12 million views, with its 100+ influencer and brand ambassador partners like Tori Spelling reaching more than 2 million views. On Mother’s Day, hundreds of women around the county tagged Shapermint in their own calls to Mom, which they posted to their Instagram and Facebook stories.

Related Resources

5 Marketing Lessons From a Unique Nonprofit That Sells Products (and why the world needs marketers today more than ever)

8 Mini Case Studies of Using Marketing as a Force for Positive Change in Our World While Getting Results for Your Company and Clients

The Hidden Opportunity Within the COVID-19 Crisis: Three ways to transform your work and your life

A Deep Elemental Force: What (truly) is marketing?

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