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Cause Marketing and Autism Awareness: Jason Falls of CafePress Talks to Marketing Smarts [Podcast]

Hosted By:
Kerry O'Shea Gorgone
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
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April is Autism Awareness Month, and companies, including CafePress, are showing their support for the cause by partnering with nonprofit organizations. To talk about cause marketing, what it means, and how businesses can get involved, I invited Jason Falls, vice-president of digital strategy at CafePress and the founder and chief instigator of Social Media Explorer, to talk with me for Marketing Smarts.

Here are some highlights from our conversation:

Choose a cause that's important to your brand's online community (5:00): "[CafePress] simply looked at our community, and the causes that they reflect most vocally are the ones we're going to support... So, in a way, people who uploaded autism designs back in 2005, 2006, 2007, helped us decide that we were going to support autism."

If your company has no personal ties to a particular cause, choose one anyway (8:13): "If you don't have something that makes sense, then I think that you just need to find the [cause]...that the leadership of the organization gravitates to the most, and say 'it may not make sense with our brand, but we're going to support this cause and here's why.' Then, you can create that story as you get to know that organization better."

Handled wrong, cause marketing could actually damage a brand (9:32): "Any time you skirt causes that are going to be close to some...fiery, sensitive, emotional run the risk of being associated with...controversy."

Respond genuinely in times of crisis (11:50): Companies should be "genuinely focused on contributing to the goodness that can happen in these situations. You need to be doing it because you are a good steward of the community and because you are a member of the community. You do not need to be doing it for publicity."

Reach out to your community after tragic events, like the bombing at the Boston Marathon (15:18): "It was appropriate for us to raise our hand and say, 'Hey, Boston, we're thinking about you.' There's no link in the post. We're not trying to drive people back to CafePress. We're not trying to get people to buy anything. We're just showing our support. I think that's appropriate."

Approach your cause marketing with a service-minded attitude (19:45): "How can we be a valued and valuable contributor to our community? Identify a cause that helps your community."

How small businesses can engage in cause marketing (21:35) "The smaller you are, maybe the smaller of an impact you can have, or maybe the impact has to be more volunteerism versus dollars, but I think every business can step back and say 'what can I do do be part of the community?'"

If you want to know more about CafePress and Autism Awareness Month, visit, or And be sure to follow Jason's posts at

Jason and I covered much more ground in our conversation. If you're interested in cause marketing, I encourage you to listen to the entire show, which you can do above, or download the mp3.

Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode!

Music credit: Noam Weinstein.

This marketing podcast was created and published by MarketingProfs.

This episode features:

Jason Falls, vice-president of digital strategy at CafePress, and founder and chief instigator at Social Media Explorer.

Kerry O'Shea Gorgone is a lawyer, podcaster, speaker, and writer. As Director of Product Strategy, Training, she oversees sale and distribution of MarketingProfs' premium training products. Kerry also hosts the weekly interview show, Marketing Smarts.

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  • by Megan Strand Wed Apr 24, 2013 via web

    Love, love, LOVE that you're covering cause marketing on this podcast - fascinating to hear the CafePress story from Jason Falls and how they got started in partnership for autism causes. This is such an organic story - it's not always the case that a brand aligns with a cause because there was a strong pull from their existing clientele. More brands would do better with these efforts if they listened a bit more closely to their audience as well as employees.

    As a proponent of cause marketing in general, I very much appreciated Jason's inside look at Cafe Press though I would've loved to hear a bit more about what the business benefits to CafePress might be and how they measure this impact, if at all. I understand their cause focus is to raise awareness from autism but again, we're talking about a strategic, mutually beneficial partnership, something that's often overlooked. And, yes, I understand the caveat that this shouldn't be the focus in time of crisis or emergency.

    Thanks for a great episode!


  • by Kerry O'Shea Gorgone Wed May 1, 2013 via web

    Thanks, Megan! Great point. Cause marketing is certainly beneficial for businesses, as well. Some audience segments are more apt to purchase from a business that supports a cause. I was surprised to see the extent to which causes impact men's buying decisions:

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