Top 5 Most Innovative Social Cause Events

What sets apart for-profit and social cause events? They both require creativity, people power and a set of goals. Social cause events, however, deviate from traditional venues because they often require grass roots efforts, passion, creativity on a budget while incorporating anyone and everyone to participate and effect change.

Below are several examples of how companies with a social mission generated awareness and buzz for their cause, and what made them successful.

Have fun – Ben & Jerry’s “Random Acts of Cone-ness”

Ben & Jerry’s is most known for their Chubby Hubby and Cherry Garcia, but their social arm has been a staple of the company nearly from its inception. Although the “Random Acts of Cone-ness” event was intended to promote the company’s new waffle cone, there was a sense of giving as well. The ice creamer recruited “Cone Samaritans” to give out 150,000 full-size ice cream samples to Chicago, New York and San Francisco. Not all ice creams were given out for free, however. Some wanting urbanites had to hula hoop for their sweet treat. Ben & Jerry’s “Random Acts of Cone-ness” blended fun (hula hooping), the brand (“Cone Samaritans”) and the product (free samples) to generate a successful event campaign.

Make it experiential – TOMS Shoes’ “Day Without Shoes”

TOMS Shoes is among a new type of business that integrates social giving directly into the business model. For every pair of shoes purchased, TOMS donates a pair of shoes to a child in need. The raw energy of its founder, Blake Mycoskie, and its rather eccentric core brand ambassadors, make TOMS a bona-fide creative, grass roots movement. It’s fitting then that TOMS would host a Day Without Shoes. The campaign sought to make TOMS followers understand what it is like to live in the “shoes” of those the company supports. All over the country, TOMS asked its followers to go about their day without shoes. By making the event experiential, the campaign was successful and likely brought brand patrons closer to the cause while activating new followers.

Activate influencers — TrickorTweet

Often known as a night for demon spirits and debauchery, Halloween is not the time you normally think of giving. The TrickorTweet movement aimed to change that. Signing on social media guru, Chris Brogan, the TrickorTweet event aimed to spread giving, in a viral way. Participants would tweet Trick or Tweet. If they said Tweet, you must recommend several people they should follow and use the hashtag, #TrickorTweet. And if you didn’t provide them with someone new, then you have to send a trick. The trick was a link to a donation page, where they were asked to donate up to $20. The campaign enlisted the help of influencers to push the message out.

Mash it up — Timeraiser

Non-profits are often challenged by limited budgets, which renders many creative, eccentric ideas impossible. Try taking existing, inexpensive ideas and blending them with a social mission. Timeraiser paired a form of speed dating with its mission to help non-profits find skilled volunteers. Business professionals seeking volunteer work would simply go up to a booth of an organization they were interested in and discussed the needs of the organization. If there was a good fit, you would write down the agencies you’d like to work for. You bid your volunteer hours on art purchased from local artists. The more hours you were willing to donate, the better chance you would have of winning the art piece. It was a perfect venue for non-profits to find skilled volunteers that meet their unique organizational needs, while also benefiting local artists and gave the volunteer a reminder of their hard work (the art piece). Instead of big money being thrown around, it’s volunteer time. Which goes to show, charity events aren’t always about the money.

Have a theme — The Elephant Parade

Themes tie events together. Take for instance, the charity event to support the protection of Asian elephants, which are threatened by extinction. The event featured 250 fiberglass elephants that were decorated by artists and displayed around London. The elephant theme promoted awareness of the charity mission while supporting the event and providing London some tourist appeal. The elephant installation is the largest art exhibition in London history.

Whether it’s a large-scale art exhibition or holiday-themed donations from social networks or a day without shoes, social cause events require the help and participation from individuals across multiple networks in an effort to enact change. And when you blend creativity with passion, you have a better chance of activating your support base.

New Product Development: Identifying Product Opportunity

Launching a new product can grow market share in an existing market or help break into a new one. Consider Apple’s breakthrough into the smartphone market or iAd, or Google’s Android. Before you begin implementing new products, perform market research—and consider working with a demand generation agency to make the most of this process. Based on research, you can then identify problems and take steps toward solving them. Following this straightforward path, you will find opportunities to significantly grow your market share—whether in a new market or your existing one.

1. Evaluate the current market

Research is an essential first step. Albert Einstein said, “If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?” Let’s consider Jet Blue’s path. The airline found traditional air travel focused on profitable business travelers that sought to get from point a to point b. These customers were currently being served by airlines like Delta, so Jet Blue had to take a different approach and capture a new audience if they wanted to break through.

2. Identify the problems

After you have examined the broad scope of the market, it’s time to identify any under-served customer needs. “Knowing the market’s needs and how it is currently serviced provides you with key information that is essential in developing your product/service and marketing plan,” writes VA-Interactive. For Jet Blue, their team understood that appealing to the profitable business traveler was already done by Delta. The new airline took several steps back and saw there was a demographic not being served: the casual, young, urban flier. But how could Jet Blue capture this demographic?

3. Determine how you can solve them

At this the point you are beginning to hone-in on your market opportunity. The research and analysis has been done, now it’s time to stretch your creative thinking to solve the current market problems. “A business has to be involving, it has to be fun,” says billionaire Richard Branson, “and it has to exercise your creative instincts.” This is exactly what Jet Blue did.

The burgeoning airline understood the young, urban flier were not being served by current airlines. The Jet Blue team went to the drawing board and began brainstorming. Do they just want to get from point a to point b? No. They want an experience. Flying was no longer flying, it was jetting. Jet Blue was able to incorporate TVs into every seat, offer healthier food while keeping rates down for its cash-strapped customers. Jet Blue did their research and found an entire market of under-served travelers and captured them.

Jet Blue stretched their thinking, determined which ideas were within their capabilities, budget and most met their audience needs. The results? Cheaper flights, personal TVs for every passenger and healthy snacks. Through market evaluation, analysis and creative problem solving, you can develop a compelling product to grow your market share.

Through market evaluation, analysis, creative problem solving and even help from a brand activation agency, you can develop a compelling product to grow your market share.

Challenges of Segmentation

Understanding consumer behavior helps companies better sell products and services. Market researchers often use consumer segmentation as a tool to analyze various groups of consumers. A segment is a group of customers (present or potential) with similar characteristics. Marketers then use those characteristics to create a target market for their product or service. Once a firm has effectively “segmented” the market, it must choose to “target” one or more closely related segments in which it can focus its marketing efforts on. Integrated marketing agencies usually prioritize segments based on a combination of factors including sales, loyalty, profitability, as well as other strategic considerations.

There have been many studies conducted to analyze the benefits of consumer segmentation.  Research has shown that companies that implement formal, research-based segmentation strategies receive higher revenues and market share than competitors.  By identifying the similarities of the demographics through consumer segmentation studies, it is possible to develop a more effective marketing strategy that better serves consumer needs.  Effective segments must be measurable, substantial, accessible, differential, and actionable. Companies must realize the demographics, the motivations for purchasing, and the buying behavior of their target segment(s). Developing consumer profiles can be done via surveys and other tracking at data-rich websites.  At the extreme end, companies such as Amazon and NetFlix are able to use predictive intelligence across their network to improve the shopping experience.

While consumer segmentation is a pervasive marketing strategy, it is important to be aware of its shortcomings. To explore how you can avoid these pitfalls, we will discuss common challenges many companies face through segmenting their audience:

Ignoring Potential Audiences

When leaving out certain segments, a company may not be able to maximize potential. Additionally, a brand may gain a permanent association with a certain group, especially when utilizing social class, race, or lifestyle, which may deter others from using the product. For example, the beer “Colt 45”, targets African-Americans, but there are many people out there who are not African Americans who may enjoy the beer as well. Therefore, the racially segregated marketing and ads for such products may make others feel like they are not meant to use the product or feel under-appreciated for their support and use of the product.  Another example is Pepsi; it targets youthful, active, and edgy consumers heavily. It is likely that many more traditional, older and laid-back soda drinkers may feel like they don’t fit into this “Pepsi stereotype” so proceed to buy Coke instead. This ultimately leads to an alienation of potentially reliable consumers.

Forgetting About Individuality

Quantitative surveys produce numerous statistically significant segments, but creating the segment (or segments) for which the company should target is not a simple task. Just as every individual is unique in some way, shape or form, it is hard to classify people into buying-behavior segments. Marketing concentrated on a “segment” may only cater to a portion of the individuals within the segment, leaving the others out. There are so many factors that must be considered when segmenting, such as demographics, education level, income level, psychographics (refers to targeting consumer segments according to social class, lifestyle and personality), past purchasing behavior, that it is nearly impossible to group people into one segment.

Sending the Wrong Message

Another problem that can arise during the process of segmentation is cannibalization, in which one segment overtakes another so nothing is gained and in the worst case, sales or market share is lost. Moreover, there is a risk of sending the wrong message or an occurrence of brand “dilution” to too many segments, or different messages to different segments of the market.

Additionally, while consumer segmentation is one of the major studies of market research throughout top-performing companies, it proves very difficult to get it right–at least the first time. Despite these shortcomings, segmentation is still a valid tool to help understand your audience and, in turn, create powerful campaigns for your brand. As you develop your segmentation plans, consider some of these challenges, and avoid the traps. And remember, that it is always helpful to learn more about your audience…just be sure to ask questions that provide actionable insight in helping you to develop your overall strategy.

Top 5 Reasons to Segment

Market segmentation is the process of dividing groups of consumers based on their purchasing behavior and reaction to promotions and communications from the company. Each segment should differ in these behaviors but within the segment, members should be homogeneous.

Implementing segmentation has many benefits to a company—and an integrated digital marketing agency can walk you through the process. But after segmenting the market, you can more effectively identify a customer’s needs, better communicate with your audience, create opportunities for growth and increase profits and market share.

1. Better Satisfy Customer Needs and Wants

Through segmentation, a company can match customers’ needs and wants. Since all customers have differing needs, they must be handled in different ways.  Segmentation enables identification of the different customer segments and their preferences.  Then, a solution can be customized for each segment using the company’s products or services. As customers grow older, their preferences and buying behaviors change. By identifying these changes, solutions can be provided to customers throughout their ‘life cycle’ by adopting the product or service to the segment’s needs. This is a great way to retain customers as they change their behaviors over time.

2. Better Communication

A marketing message needs to be targeted to specific customer segments for it to be effective. Since customers have different needs and wants, solutions to each segment need to be communicated separately. Mass marketing causes some target customers to miss the intended message. Also, too much money is spent on advertising to customers who will never purchase the product. Through segmentation, customers can be reached with a specific marketing message that is designed to solve their individual problems, which is less costly for the company.

3. Opportunity for Growth

Segmentation enables identification of potential customers who wouldn’t normally buy a product. By segmenting the market, a company can create its own ‘niche’ and attract customers who normally would look to alternative sources for a solution to their problem. If these unique problems are identified, companies can adjust their product offering to provide a solution. Also, segmentation can increase sales as customers are introduced to new versions and upgrades of their current product. If they try out a product with a lower price point and like the product, they can upgrade to a more premium version.

4. Increased Innovation

With segmentation, smaller segments in the market that have similar needs and wants can be identified. Although these segments may not be traditional customers, identifying new needs can stimulate innovative ideas to solve new problems. With newly developed products and services to meet these needs, problems, premium prices can be charged and the advantage in the market can be sustained.

5. Higher Profits/Market Share

Consumers have different price sensitivities so by segmenting the market, different prices can be charged to extract the most consumer surplus. In doing this, profits are increased. Since segmentation supports niche strategies, highly attractive segments can be identified and market leadership can be achieved. A competitive position results from this place in the market, along with improved relationships and a stronger brand presence. Also, competitive production and decreased marketing costs are associated with segmentation. Due to all of these factors, profitability increases.

Top 5 Traits: The Ideal America

“America today is lost and drifting away from its core values of independence and freedom.”

-Young American

We gathered insight and perspective from 25 of our peers and tomorrow’s leaders (ages 18 to 39) to learn what they think of the state of America today and our future path. Among our brain trust were brand activation agencies, Internet innovators, and graduate students. This week we will discuss a series of topics that shed light on America’s State of the Union, the American Dream, brighter days ahead, and our role in making it happen.

We begin with the ideal state of America as described by our round table of future leaders. While many topics were discussed in the survey, the following five traits rose above all else as the core attributes of an ideal America.

1. Independence

From our beginnings, America has valued her independence. Our freedoms and liberties are central to who we are as a nation.  “America stands for the same things today that it has always stood for – freedom.”

2. Opportunity

America is known as the land of opportunity. And while the economy has created struggles and hardships, there is hope that greater opportunities lie ahead. “My hope is that every child in America grows up dreaming their own American dream and truly believes they can achieve it.” A large part of our heritage has been as an entrepreneurial nation. While we may be discouraged by challenging economic times, we recognize that “there is direct economic impact of bringing talents and entrepreneurial zeal to our country.”

3. Innovation

We value our freedom to pursue new ideas. We expect to lead the world in innovation. “We as Americans have an opportunity to take our vast resources and make innovations in technology, medicine and other fields as well.”  As a part of innovation, we are placing more and more value on creativity. “I want to live in a country that leads the world in creativity and originality.”

4. Diversity

While we are not perfect in our pursuit of equality, we are proud to be the world’s cultural melting pot.  Our roundtable recognized that we continue to make progress as “our current government is a step towards being more open and embracing all types of diversity.” A nod to this movement was the Obama administration changing the dialogue with countries formerly ignored by the Bush administration (namely Iran). Instead of adopting the former doctrine of “planned ignoring,” the new administration has opened communication and is sensitive to cultural disparities.

5. Generosity

There is a backlash to the spend, spend, spend society of recent years. “Let’s shed the selfishness and embrace generosity.” There is a rising culture of social good that must be further developed. “Foreigners probably don’t get the sense of the generosity of Americans and the desire and commitment to making the world a better place.” Instead of buying more for ourselves, let’s demonstrate our spirit of selflessness.

Our current crisis is an opportunity to reflect on who we are as a nation and reprioritize what is important to us. If our nation gives priority to the winning traits above, we will emerge as a stronger nation.

Colors of Economy

Weight lifters can lift more in a blue room; dangerous criminals are more subdued in pink prison cells; red makes our heart beat faster.

Before we even understand lines and object definition, we see color. Whether we’re aware of it or not, color has a profound affect on our emotions. As a brand management agency, we pay pristine attention to color and how we use it in our designs. We’ve created a color list—to get entrepreneurs thinking about what colors mean and how they affect consumers.

Black: Always the New Classic

Emotional Value
Fear, Depression, Anger

•    Black is a multi-dimensional color that can mean classic or new.
•    It has an ominous characteristic, symbolizing death. Particularly Western cultures use black for funerals.
•    It has an air of intelligence (graduation robes), marked with rebellion (the bad guy), shrouded in mystery (space).
•    Black’s evil symbolism, compliments the good in the world. Whatever the social, economic, political environment, black will always be a popular color in all industries.

Key Words:
Classic, New, Death, Intelligence, Rebellion, Mystery,

Blue: The Color of Recession/Progression

Emotional Value
Peace, Calm, Security


•    The best color to wear to an interview is blue. Blue is non-threatening, yet confident, stable and loyal. No wonder it’s the color for the “power suit.”
•    Many police uniforms are blue because the color says confidence and security, while being non-threatening.
•    As we aim to maximize our every minute, blue will become a more popular color because it enhances productivity. Weightlifters have proven to lift heavier weights in blue rooms.
•    Security is very important today. As we face difficult times, knowing that it’ll be OK is crucial.
•    With the good, there’s the bad. Blue can also signify depression. “You’ve got the blues” is a nod to this attribute.
•    It is also the color of corporate and technology. As corporate entities recede into the background, technology will take center stage—keeping blue in the forefront.

Key Words:
Confident, Loyal, Stability, Security, Productive, Depression, Technology

Brown: Simple Comfort

Emotional Value

•    Chocolate… what a perfect indulgence. It’s small, sweet and delicious. Though it’s the bane of many dieters, it still has a seductive, yet comforting quality that makes us, even for a minute, feel like everything is OK.
•    It’s also the color of dirt, giving it an earthy, environmental quality popularly coupled with green. Companies seeking to align their company with eco-friendly causes could benefit from brown.
•    For businesses that are going back to basics, brown is the color of choice. Its nature qualities give it a simple, outdoorsy feel.

Key Words:
Comfort, Earthy, Eco, Simplicity, Nature

Green: Business Renewal

Emotional Value
Envy, Jealousy, Calm

•    Green will continue its rise in eco-conscious businesses. Green says nature as well as initiative, or go—particularly for western cultures (i.e. traffic lights).
•    It’s also the color of spring, a time of rebirth and renewal. For companies providing a pampered escape, green is a color that will signify rejuvenation and energy for your brand.
•    Spring implies youth and adolescents. Though green will continue to be the color of eco-friendly businesses, its uses in other industries will decline—as other connotations of the color are for personal gratification and envy.

Key Words:
Eco, Nature, Go/Initiative, Rebirth, Renewal, Escape, Youth, Envy

Orange: Optimism in a Time of Pessimism

Emotional Value

•    America’s attitude is orange. Orange is energy, enthusiasm, get-it-done and balance. Though these are flattering attributes, the tradition of enthusiasm has been dampened by the current economic condition.
•    Orange, though very inspirational, is not going to be favored in general. The somber national tone desperately wants orange, but is struggling to stay optimistic.

Key Words:
Optimism, Enthusiasm, Balance

Pink: The Innocent Tranquilizer Dart

Emotional Value

•    Pink, a sister of red, but could not be more different than if they were complimentary.
•    Pink is a tranquilizing color. Often times, prisons will paint the cells of their most dangerous residents the color pink.
•    Pink symbolizes innocence and child-like flirtatiousness.
•    Pink, not even highlights of the color, will not be a popular pick for many businesses. Of course, it will continue to win the favor of pre-teen and baby companies, but areas outside this demographic might find it difficult to sell pink.

Key Words:
Innocence, Flirtatiousness, Calming

Purple: High-Class

Emotional Value

•    Thailand considers purple to be the color of mourning. Not so in western cultures. Quite the opposite in fact. Purple is the color of royalty and wisdom. The Purple Heart, a high military honor for those wounded or killed in enemy combat with America, embodies both purple attributes.
•    Purple will continue to play its part in the upper echelons of society, while being a footnote in many brand colors.

Key Words:
Wisdom, Royalty

Red: Accent of Bold

Emotional Value
Love, Infatuation, Danger, Intensifier of Emotions, Strength, Aggression, Sexuality

•    It’s said, red makes the heart beat faster. No wonder sports cars are typically red.
•    Red strikes a chord with more cultures than many other colors because it’s intense, passionate and invokes an inherent physiological response.
•    Red is the color of celebration and good luck (China), purity and integrity (India), mourning (S. Africa) or communism (Russia).
•    Red, when used with a wide brush, typically makes whatever it’s painted on look larger—whether it’s your torso or a wingback chair.
•    It is so bold and audacious; it usually dilutes the colors around it. That’s why it’s used to accent and highlight objects of importance.
•    Red is a color that will never leave the color palette. It’s an integral part of human emotion. No matter what the economy outlook might be, red will always be accented in the landscape.

Key Words:
Aggression, Celebration, Purity, Mourning, Communism, Bold

Silver/Grey: Reliably Boring, Yet Essential

Emotional Value
Boredom, Security

•    Grey, somewhere between white (good) and black (evil), is a blasé color.
•    Grey says security and reliability—two important features businesses will need to adopt in the future.
•    However, grey is very gloomy. Though nothing says depressing and blah like a cold, cloudy, grey day, the color can be a brand asset—as is very relevant in today’s economic climate.

Key Words:
Reliability, Security

White: The “Color” Behind the Color

Emotional Value

•    White is the color (or lack thereof) that represents purity, neutrality, sterility and youth.
•    Often associated with white is cleanliness or sterility. Doctors wear white to convey these attributes of white (also, white is easier to bleach).
•    White is also associated with neutrality—hence a white flag for surrender. White is a neutral color that will continue to be the preferred backdrop on websites and the “color” behind the color.

Key Words:
Purity, Neutrality, Sterility, Youth, Neutrality

Yellow: Bite-Size Happiness

Emotional Value
Joy, Optimism, Happiness, Idealism, Anger

•    Yellow echoes the duality nature of red. Though yellow evokes feelings of happiness, when we are confronted with too much yellow, we become annoyed or angered.
•    Fun, interesting companies will capitalize on the jocular characteristics of yellow in product and brand development.

Key Words:
Aggression, Happiness

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Color Psychology, Info Please

Color Psychology and Marketing, Precision Intermedia

Color Psychology, How Stuff Works

Color Meaning, Symbolism and Psychology, Sensational Color