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Sales Incentives and Cause-Related Marketing

Sprint and Motorola Campaign for Red

Many cause-related marketing campaigns require consumers to buy something. Maybe it’s a rubber bracelet. Or a plush toy. Maybe it’s a dessert special or music CD, or some kind of service.

While some people will just buy the cause-related marketing product or service without being prompted, usually they won’t. Like life insurance, and a tie that goes with the suit, sometimes cause-related marketing isn’t bought, it’s sold. (Packaged goods being a notable exception.)

I was reminded of this the other day when I was in my local Sprint store. Sprint Nextel is third-largest wireless telecommunications provider in the States, with 52 million subscribers. Along with Motorola, they are among the sponsors of the Red campaign. When you sign up for service and purchase a themed MotoRazr or Motoslvr phone, Motorola and Sprint jointly donate $17 to Red’s efforts to eradicate AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria in Africa.

I know this because they had a dandy little display behind the register. There was a well-designed ad, the featured phone, and the signature Red branding. It hit all the high points including how the money’s to be used and was specific when describing the amount of the donation. Regular readers know what a stickler I am about that detail.

But did the nice young salesman trying to get into pharmacy school mention any of this to me? Nope.

I don’t know this for a fact, but I’m guessing that Red, Sprint and Motorola didn’t include employee incentives in their campaign. “Employee incentives,” you say, “why that sounds just like a sales contest!” Yup, that’s exactly what it is.

What might those incentives be? It depends on the company, its culture and the product/service in question. It might be a pizza party at the end of the promotion, t-shirts, or a celebrity visit. Maybe there’s a menu of prizes. Participation at a certain level might put you in the drawing for something grand like a trip, or a new PS3. And don’t forget to incentivize managers, too. When managers get competitive the product/service is far more likely to move.

Who pays for all this? That’s a dealpoint. Sometimes the sponsor does. Sometimes the charity does. Sometimes the charity secures donated prizes.

Whatever the case, be sure to have the incentives in place well before you unveil it to employees.

One final point, I once tried to put an incentive campaign in place with a new sponsor, but the sponsor refused. It wasn’t in their culture to respond to something so “crass,” she said. This was our first time with this sponsor so I agreed. The program failed. And it failed again the following year.

Fact is, employee incentives work.


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In other words, you’ll want to hold back some of the promotion’s budget to continue to activate the effort until the very end.

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