By Glen Frechette, CEO and President, GoGenerous.com
In today’s highly sophisticated business environment, it takes more than traditional marketing efforts to earn new business. Conventional marketing of products and services has often focused entirely on solely the products or services being offered. Injecting a simple variety of “cause marketing” has proven to be very effective for many local outfits seeking to lure new business.
Cause marketing or cause-related marketing refers to a type of marketing involving the cooperative efforts of a "for profit" business and a non-profit for mutual benefit. The term is sometimes used more broadly to refer to any type of marketing effort for social and other charitable causes, including in-house marketing efforts by non-profit organizations. Cause marketing differs from corporate giving (philanthropy) as the latter generally involves a specific donation. While cause-marketing is a marketing relationship generally not based on a donation. (From Wikipedia}
1. Engaging in a cause-marketing plan is extremely simple to do. Don’t throw out your current marketing plan; just attach your organization to a cause of which you believe in. Better yet, understand your target audience and support what they believe in. If you take a broader approach, like supporting schools, community events, or the military, you have a reduced chance to exclude potential customers. There is no limit to the value that these kinds of gestures can have that will ultimately deepen the emotional connection between you and your audience. After all, sales are directly related to the perceived character of an organization.
As an example, have you seen any of the infomercials that currently inundate cable TV? We have probably all seen the one about the knife that can cut through a broom handle and then cut a tomato perfectly without effort. Who doesn’t need one of those in their kitchens? Well, not so fast. Take a moment and ask yourself why you have not bought one of those “kings of cutlery” quite yet? Often times those infamous items usually fall well below most of our thresholds of trust and character.
Another example is the recent multi-level marketing craze. While many products sold this way are truly worth the price tag, all too often there is an alternative agenda and the “sell” is not necessarily in the customer’s best interest. A lack of trust exists and it’s obvious.
2. Focus on those that you seek to attract. Today, you must understand that a marketing plan that is void of an emotional commitment to “give back” is a marketing plan that is truly designed to fail. Try to pick something relevant. You cannot take care of everyone, but choose to support something that pertains to your target market’s passions in return for their supporting of your business.
Here is one more way to look at it. When was the last time you ran into an old friend and greeted them with a huge smile and either a hug or a handshake. Chances are one of the first things you said to them was “How have you been?” “How are you?” “How are the kids?” It is almost instantaneous for us to ask how a friend is doing, but we all too often forget to ask the very same questions to the people we depend upon to appreciate our work. Unknowingly, most smaller and younger businesses, indeed do misunderstand a simple purchasing psychological truth; consumers will purchase goods and services from organizations that care about how they are, How they’ve been, How their family is. If you are in business today, you cannot afford to ignore this any longer. Never underestimate the power of personal relationships with your clients and prospects.
3. Learn from the big players. Target Corporation spends over one million dollars a year to make sure we are aware that they give back to our schools. They post their local contributions on huge banners on the walls that we walk past when entering and exiting the store. They mention it in print and TV ads. They simply would not do this if it was determined to be of minimal importance to their shoppers and ultimately to their success. This wonderful initiative fills a financial void across America. If you are helping the community in a valid and productive way, don’t hesitate to communicate this to your prospects and customers. Whether it’s simply a press release on your website that you distribute via email to your contacts, an update to your corporate blog or a quick message on your Twitter page, your commitment to the community and cause you support will benefit your business relationships.
Consider partnering with the organization your business is involved with in order to cross-market your relationship. It never hurts to ask if there are ways to collaborate that will be mutually beneficial. In this vein, you are reaching out to multiple markets at once.
4. Seek external resources to help build your campaign. For many smaller companies and start-ups, your marketing “team” may consist of one person, or perhaps it’s one of the many hats you wear yourself and the idea of a multi-faceted marketing campaign may seem overwhelming. Since cause marketing is growing at a rapid pace, be sure to research and analyze third-party resources that can help you in this regard. It will save you time without pilfering your checkbook.
5. Be seen without breaking the bank. It is a common misconception that in order to support local organizations or causes, you have to open your checkbook and give substantial monetary sums. This is exactly what you don’t have to do in order to engage in cause marketing. In fact, by going a step beyond merely supporting a charity financially, you are demonstrating your generosity with your time. For example, once you have determined which organizations mean the most to you, simply get in touch with them and offer your help at their next event – no role is too big or too small. Ask about committees within the organization that may need assistance. For example, if they put on industry events and need help encouraging attendees, use this as an opportunity to reach out to your customers and prospects. If they decline to attend, it does not matter as you have thought of them outside of the typical business transaction and such a small gesture will resonate as your relationship grows.
Traditional marketing is obviously necessary, but it pays huge dividends to spark an emotion of trust and uncover your character. Turn the spotlight onto something worthy in nature, even if it does not immediately benefit you. To the trained professional, marketing is truly much more than the promotion of products and services. Continue to diversify your efforts through networking, direct mail, public relations, press releases, on and off-line advertising, and so on. However, give yourself a better chance to succeed by supporting a local charity, booster or family going through hard times. Make generosity not only a marketing priority, but a business mission.
Glen Frechette is the founder & CEO, Selfless Opportunities, LLC.
Selfless Opp. manages and maintains www.goGenerous.com
and the www.CommunityEventsChannel.org
, both designed to help businesses and independents deepen customer relationships by emphasizing core values and integrity. Glen can be reached at 651-285-2828 or via email at Glen@goGenerous.com