The public has always been wary of marketers. We don’t have the best reputation—obviously, promoting our product to you means all we want is to separate you from your money. We interrupt the program you’re watching in order to force our message on you, and we’ll say anything, true or not, if it means getting your attention for 30 seconds. In the public’s eyes, we are evil, soulless people.
One of the things content marketing seeks to do is to change that line of thinking. Instead of interrupting the content people want in order to give them our message, we find ways of turning our message into the content people want. Through the Internet, we’ve been able to create an entirely new paradigm for brand promotion.
But it’s not enough. People are still wary of our message and our motives, which in turn makes them wary of our brands. So what can we do about this? We need to go a step further. Rather than simply providing people with the content that they want, we need to show that we care about them, about the world around, and about our place in it. We need contribution marketing.
Contribution marketing takes the platform that marketing affords us and uses it to make a difference. Some brands sponsor charity drives or promise a portion of their profits over a certain period of time to a good cause. These things have been going on for years. But contribution marketing puts more of a content spin on it.
For instance, we’ve talked before about HealthBiz Decoded, the Xerox-sponsored website to provide people with the latest information on the new health care laws. Or how about the Bridge of Life, Samsung Life Insurance’s effort to lower suicide rates? The Mapo Bridge, in Seoul, South Korea, had one of the highest recorded suicide rates. So Samsung Life Insurance sponsored a project to install sensors that would be alerted when someone was walking along the bridge, and LED lights that would broadcast messages of hope to that person. Some of the messages are inspirational, some are conversational, and some are simply silly jokes to elicit a smile. But it’s worked. Suicide rates on the Mapo Bridge have dropped 77%.
From a purely financial point of view, you wouldn’t think a life insurance company would be very concerned with lowering the suicide rate, since suicide means they don’t have to pay out on the policy. But their gesture shows that they’re not thinking about profits, but about reaching out and helping people. And now, when you think of this caring and innovative gesture, you’ll think of Samsung Life Insurance. Of course, they have content associated with it as well.
Actions speak louder than words, and contribution marketing is about your actions. Rather than a marketing campaign that people are reticent to trust, it allows your brand to be associated with positive efforts for change in the world.
There are all sorts of ways that you can use contribution marketing for your brand, so use your imagination. Create informative videos and articles to help raise awareness about an important issue. Sponsor a project in your area to build a public garden, a community theater, or some other place that will have a positive impact on the community. Whatever you decide to do, use your brand to spread a message worth hearing. It will help people listen more carefully when you spread your own message as well.