Engaging customers is becoming more difficult all the time.  Channels are being created daily that allow brands to create unique entry points into the lives of their customers.

Take for example Pepsi.  Instead of running commercials during the Super Bowl that it had for more than ten years, it made a conscious effort to connect with consumers in a new way to which they could identify.  Pepsi’s launch of its “Refresh Project” has channeled money to support the entrepreneurial spirit that drives businesses.  This grass roots effort demonstrates Pepsi’s desire to position itself as the brand of the people with its cause marketing strategy, instead of a mass media traditional brand advertising campaign.

The list of categories, health, arts & culture, food & shelter, the planet, neighborhoods and education are all areas that need support and with which consumers can identify with. The results are yet to be discovered, however it is my guess that this strategy will result in greater reach and brand awareness than would have been obtainable through running Super Bowl spots and traditional media channels.

Other companies such as Sappi Paper with their initiative “Ideas That Matter,” have been supporting grass roots organizations whose efforts continue to make a difference in people’s lives.  This has allowed them to not only support needy causes it has also opened doors for them to educate consumers and businesses about their own “green” initiatives.

Brands that leverage this strategy with a strong presence in social media venues such as Facebook, Linked In and Twitter will have the most success. Their awareness will continue to grow in markets that they have not been able to tap into before as well as capture leadership within their business category.

Cause marketing strategies will remain in a growth cycle as marketers continue to develop and find new ways of capturing the attention of the elusive consumer and interacting with them.  In the future, with the integration of mobile media and smart phone technologies, we will also see the sheer power and agility provided by cause marketing.