9 steps to Moneyball Your Cause Marketing Campaigns

Yesterday, I came across an attention grabbing headline that made me immediately click-through.  The article title was “3 Ways To Moneyball Cause Marketing To Make It Actually Work.”  I was quite skeptical that the content would be useful since link baiting headlines like this typically leave the reader disappointed.

Fortunately this particular article, although light on substance, wasn’t completely disappointing. The main premise of the article is that, like Moneyball, data is the secret sauce for success.  The author, Shawn Basak, then provides three suggestions to corporate marketers:

  1. Find the right customers
  2. Deliver value
  3. Measure

Not rocket science right.  Shawn gave me a little to chew on and got me thinking about this Moneyball concept,  but the problem is that Shawn’s three suggestions added no real value to the idea of using the Moneyball tactics.  So like I said, I wasn’t completely disappointed but the article left me unfulfilled.  Now I am going to try to fill that gap.

There were two simple ideas in Moneyball that were the essence of its fame: 1) find one metric that your competition overlooks to drive a key decision. 2) Once you find that metric, stay the course even if the road starts bumpy.    In Mondeyball that key metric was baseball’s on base percentage (OBP).   The team signed players exclusively based on that statistic.  It didn’t matter if they were a no name players with little start power.  As a matter of fact, they preferred unsung players because there was less competition to sign them and keep them.

As the story goes, this strategy didn’t lead to immediate success and naysayers sought to abandon the strategy when things started off on the wrong foot.  However, because of strong leadership, they stayed with the plan, things turned around, and in the end using the OBP turned out to be a successful enough strategy to write a bestselling book and make a movie about it.

So can you realistically apply Moneyball tactics to cause marketing?  I think so, and here is how I would do it.  Since Moneyball is all about finding the metrics that impact ROI and staying the course, just do that with all your cause marketing campaigns.  So without further ado, here are my 9 steps to Moneyball cause marketing:

  1. List all the causes that your company cares about
  2. Eliminate the causes that don’t have an obvious brand fit
  3. Rank each cause by its mind share with your target customer segment (maybe using a survey or a series of focus groups)
  4. Rank each cause by its market share (calculate this by using some combination of share of total donation dollars, and share of non-profits actively fighting for the cause)
  5. Focus on the top 2 or 3 causes after combining and sorting both rankings using a weighted average of the two
  6. Now start searching for metrics to determine the quality of non-profits that support these causes.  It could be some metric that combines something found on charitynavigator.org or maybe its their Facebook fans or Twitter followers or the number of comments on their blog or the Google page rank. (This will be your secret Moneyball sauce)
  7. Use historical data from a handful of cause marketing campaigns that were obviously successful to settle on the one or two metrics that matter.
  8. Use that metric going forward to decide what causes and non-profits to invest your cause marketing and corporate social responsibility dollars with.  I would pick the unsung and overlooked local non profits and niche causes that are crushing it with your secret Moneyball metric.  This would be a good way to differentiate yourself and standout in a crowded market.
  9. Stay the course and commit to at least a three year campaign partnering with 3 or 4 of your top Moneyball non-profits that all serve the same cause.

So there it is, 9 simple steps to Moneyball cause marketing.  In addition, you clearly want to measure impact on revenue during the execution of each campaign.   But you would do that whether you used Moneyball or not wouldn’t you?