THE BLOG

Free The Children Co-founder Answers 4 Questions for Marketing Innovators

02/19/2015 12:59 pm ET | Updated Apr 21, 2015

Craig Kielburger, who at the age of 12 co-founded the remarkable charity Free The Children, now a worldwide organization, will address these 4 questions;

  1. What is one marketing topic that is most important to you as an innovator?
  2. Why is this so important?
  3. How will the customer experience be improved by this?
  4. How will this improve the effectiveness of marketing?

Please send your feedback and ideas for people you would us to interview to ernan@erdm.com.

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Craig Kielburger is a social entrepreneur and NYT-bestselling author. He is the co-founder of the children's charity Free The Children, the youth empowerment event We Day, and the social enterprise Me to We.
Free The Children is an international charity and educational partner that believes in a world where all children are free to achieve their fullest potential as agents of change.

1. What is one marketing topic that is most important to you as an innovator?

Cause-related marketing, linking your product to an organization or cause that customers care about, so that buying your product has a tangible, positive social impact.

2. Why is this so important?

Consumers are increasingly seeking a sense of purpose in their purchases. The millennial generation, in particular, is highly aware of social causes and more likely than any previous generation to actively look for companies and products that make a positive social impact.

We also live in an age of parity. The marketplace is filled with similar offerings that start to blur together on retail shelves and online. Consumers are looking for a true differentiator and asking, what's unique about this product? Social impact is an under-tapped way to make your product stand out among the crowd.

At the same time, consumers are growing cynical of donating a dollar at the check-out. They're looking for some accountability on where their donation is going. As we say, they want to track their impact.

We've seen this phenomenon with our Me to We products, which include artisanal items handmade by women in Africa, sweatshop-free clothing, eco-conscious school supplies, and a recycled stationary line. Each item has a unique Track Your Impact code printed on the tag. With that code, we promise a specific impact to a community overseas, such as clean water, a vaccination, or a financial literacy class to empower a person in a developing country. Customers can enter their code online to see precisely where their gift is making an impact. Track Your Impact is cause-related marketing with an unprecedented level of transparency‹, a specific purchase linked to a specific outcome.

3. How will the customer experience be improved by this?

People want to feel and be seen as being socially conscious. They want the emotional attachment and empowerment of knowing that their shopping choices benefit someone else's life. Buying a product they need, and then seeing that purchase deliver a tangible outcome for a better world, fulfills a basic human need we all have to do good.

4. How will this improve the effectiveness of marketing?

It's the future. People want to know the story behind their product to track where it was made and its social impact. Consumers are also parents, grandparents, siblings, real people who care about making a difference. They rarely have a strong emotional resonance with a deodorant, or a can of soup. But if you attach your product to something that people care about enormously, you differentiate your product.
If a consumer knows their gift planted a tree, their shirt provided seeds for a family to grow their own food, or their kid's lunchbox gave another child a year of school supplies, then they feel empowered and good about their purchases. Suddenly, they have an emotional attachment to your product ‹that's marketing gold.

Track Your Impact has been so successful that we've been approached by other companies that want to attach impacts to their products, and we'll soon license the system. It's the future of marketing.

What is your favorite activity outside of work?

I love to travel and explore new cultures. Although I've been to dozens of amazing countries, one of my favorite places to visit is Kenya - it truly is my home away from home. I go back at least twice a year to visit our Adopt a Village communities in the country.

Ernan Roman is president of ERDM.
ERDM conducts Voice of Customer (VoC) research to identify high impact Customer Experience strategies.
Inducted into the DMA Marketing Hall of Fame due to results clients achieve with ERDM's VoC research driven strategies.
Clients include IBM, MassMutual, Microsoft, NortonAntivirus, QVC and NBC.
Roman is the author of Voice of the Customer Marketing and of the Huffington Post published blog, Ernan's Insights on Marketing Best Practices.

Named by the Online Marketing Institute as one of the "2014 Top 40 Digital Luminaries" and by Crain's BtoB Magazine as one of the "100 most influential people in Business Marketing".
www.erdm.com
ernan@erdm.com