6 Takeaways from the 2013 Cause Marketing Forum Conference

I go to my share of conferences. But I attend very few that I don’t get paid to speak at. Too much time. Too much money. Too little for too much in general. I tell people that conferences are for people who don’t read. Most speakers are just doing your Google research for you. Thank you. But I can my own research for a fraction of the cost and time.

The exception for me is the annual Cause Marketing Forum Conference, which is held the first week of June in Chicago. It’s a must-attend event with lots of great people and presentations.

Here are a few of my takeaways from this year’s conference.

1. Livestrong is toast. Conference keynoter and Livestrong CEO Doug Ulman was sincere and passionate, but Livestrong’s – or The Livestrong Foundation as it’s now called – efforts post-Lance are just frosting on poop. They’ll survive, but talk of their “renewal” and regaining their former stature is just that, talk.

2. There are some impressive cause marketing campaigns out there. Ones that I didn’t even know about! Check out all the Halo winners here. Everyone loved the presentation from Terra Cycle, which was as interesting as it was funny.

3. DoSomething.org is wicked smart about mobile, particularly SMS. Did you know they have over ONE MILLION text subscribers? Aria Finger, COO of DoSomething.org (pictured above), deliverd a great preso on mobile activation. Post-conference this article ran in the New York Times on DoSometing’s new agency, TMI, which Aria will lead. Amazing work.

4. Checkout programs really do work. David and his team at CMF released a report highlighting 63 campaigns that raised – get this – $358 million in 2012 alone! Wow. Read the report for yourself here. I wrote a follow up post about what nonprofits and businesses need to know about check out programs.

5. Phil Haid’s presentation was a big hit with attendees. Phil Haid is a Toronto-based cause marketer that is doing some incredible work. Phil spoke on the need for more risk taking in cause marketing. I couldn’t agree more. The week before the conference, we had Phil on CauseTalk Radio to discuss this very issue. You can listen to it here.

6. O’Hare Airport in Chicago is a real pain in the ass. Weather, flight delays. I always seems to be there at the wrong time. Fortunately, the time was well spent with two peeps from Cone, Inc. Are you familiar with Cone? Started by the “Mother of Cause Marketing” Carol Cone, they are a leading cause agency based in Boston. Cone is one of the reasons I don’t have to go to a lot of conferences. They have an excellent weekly newsletter and lots of free research on their site. Cone staffers are professional, generous and interesting. It’s really amazing how great they are. Spending time on this occasion with Emily Nichols and Rich Maiore was a real pleasure.

What are you doing next year the first week of June? I hope to meet you at the 14th Annual Cause Marketing Forum Conference in Chicago! It’s worth the trip.

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