Advice To a Promotional Products Company

[Blogger's Note: What follows is an email exchange between Jack, who owns a promotional products business in Greensboro, North Carolina, and your's truly.]

Hi Paul

I have a small promotional products logowear business and want to donate a portion of sales to my client’s charities. How do I get started? Please add me to your GoogleGroup.


Hi Jack:

To really answer your question I’d need to know what your goals are.

Warm regards,


My ultimate goal is to donate a significant portion of my profits to my client’s charities. In order to do that I have to generate enough cash to sustain my company and provide for my family. In other words you have to create a healthy company first so you can be around long enough to make a difference.

The great and somewhat unique thing about my business, my clients who purchase their products from me, through co-branding promote themselves at the same time they are promoting their causes.

I’m writing to find out how other companies have been successful with CRM strategies.



I’m going to speak in generalities here since I don't know your business or market specifically.

Cause-related marketing can be utilized as a tactic or a strategy.

In a tactical use CRM is a promotion with all that that usually implies. You would make a donation whenever a product (or products) are sold. Like a sales promotion, a tactical CRM promotion usually has a deadline. It usually requires that you take steps to publicize the promotion.

In general, the higher the donation the better customers respond to it. Your best bet in terms of the charities you support is that they generate high levels of affinity for your customer base.

Given that you're thinking about supporting your client's charities, you'll
probably experience a certain variance from promotion to promotion because
affinity varies between causes and audiences.

You can also implement CRM as a strategy; that is a key component of your business model. General Mills and Campbells both use label campaigns that support local schools in an attempt to maximize their profits. Their respective CRM campaigns help them maintain those campaigns year-round and they are continually expanding
their footprint.

Target, the big retailer, gives away 5 percent of its profits, a tidy sum. Timberland, the shoe and apparel company, does something similar. They also support their favorite cause... City Year... with in-kind donations and substantial donations of employee and executive time in addition to money. The relationship between City Year and Timberland is so close it transcends the usual sort of CRM campaign.

Those kinds of relationships are more common than most people know. But they don’t come about overnight. In almost every case those kinds of relationships develop after years and sometimes decades of close interaction.

You're a B2B business so you have a couple of extra wrinkles. CRM promotions are most commonly directed to consumers. But B2B cause-related marketing happens ever day. Since your goal is to generate orders and increase goodwill rather than to sell a logoed key fob or pen directly to consumer, you must take a different tack.

Again, I don't know your business, your market or your customers, but you might consider sponsoring a golf tourney for the cause(s). If that doesn't suit you or your audience, it could be a shooting event, a motorcycle rally, a car show, etc. You get the picture.

You could do customized catalogs for key clients, with some or all the products themed to the company’s charity or even co-branded. Most promotions these days center around holiday periods; Valentines Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, etc. You could carve out one or more of the lesser holidays… say Groundhog Day… to promote the catalog. Just make sure the creative makes sense.

Hope this helps. Let me know if there's any specific aspects of CRM I can address. It probably goes without saying that setting up these kinds of campaigns is what I do for a living. So if you need professional help, let me know.

Best wishes,

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