Cause Marketing Triple Play

Plus 3 Network wants to turn your “sweat equity into social capital,” and they’re using a non transactional form of cause marketing to do it.

Here’s what that means: You register at Plus 3, a kind of social media network, and then keep an online log of all your workouts. Each mile you train… mainly running, walking and biking… translates to a small donation paid for by sponsors to a select group of charities. Certain training activities are also awarded with prizes or rewards like chain lube or training socks.

So you get fitter and maybe some new socks, the sponsor gets the usual benefits of cause marketing and the charity gets a donation. Of course, Plus 3 gets something out of it too.

It’s a cause marketing triple play.

The donations are higher when you upload the data from a GPS enabled device than if you make a hand entry. For instance, walking pays out $.05 a mile when uploaded from Garmin GPS device, but just $.0167 when you hand enter the data. Plus 3 says this is because there’s less chance fraud when the data comes from the Garmin.

The site is still in beta and they have a few wrinkles to iron out. For instance, I’m a rower. Rowing measures distance in meters rather than miles. Same with anybody who trains in any sport outside the United States. And anybody who trains indoors on treadmills, bikes, or indoor rowers can’t currently get the higher donation numbers.

The success of Plus 3 depends a whole lot on how well they market it. But it is an intriguing concept and very copyable.

For instance, RIF could do the same with reading. The American Diabetes Association, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and Susan G. Komen could all do versions of this for people who want to train, but not necessarily compete in their 'tour' events. It could be the Tour de Cure lite.

I don’t know if Plus 3 Network built their website from scratch or not, but you could probably get really close by just modifying Ning, the social network engine.

I expect that starting with Ning the health and wellness division of a large company could build something just like Plus 3 for their employees. Or, for that matter, Plus 3 could sell their engine to large companies for the same purpose, with the employer acting as the sponsor.
This concept holds a lot of possibilities.

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