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Cause Marketing the Auto Shows

It’s prime auto show season right now across the country. The two biggest shows, the Detroit auto show is going on right now, while the Chicago show is coming up in early February. My home state’s much more modest show took place last weekend.

(At left is a Subaru, which offers its own cause marketing effort called Share the Love.)

All of which begs the question, how might auto shows utilize cause marketing in their promotional mix?

Here’s a few ideas:

Imagine a Rosy the Riveter kind of look with messaging that says, in effect, "Let's put the State/Region back to work."

Then in partnership with local micro-lenders when someone gets approved for a micro-loan during the promotional period, they are also entered into a drawing for a truck/car for their business from the car show’s sponsoring dealer’s association.

The drawing, of course, would take place during the car show in front of a lot of cameras.

If you really wanted to doll it up, you could present it as a version of those reality talent shows, like ‘Dancing With the Stars’ and let attendees vote on the winners using Facebook and Twitter.

You could even invest it with all that cooked-up drama that’s so typical of those shows: “Amanda Peterson the judges liked your business plan and operational moxie. But Auto Show attendees were more reticent” …dramatic pause! … “still, you’re safe from elimination.”

How many vehicles would be given away? It could be just one new car or truck. Or, it could be some combination of new/used vehicles such that there was at least one winner per county, or some other meaningful number.

Other likely partners might include banks and credit unions and one (or more) of the small business incubators in the State, and of course media outlets like a TV station, radio stations and newspapers.

The positioning is this: the State's car dealers are so invested in the State that they want to help small businesses lead the State's recovery.

New businesses, after all, are the engine of job growth in the American economy.

And the kind of businesses that apply for loans from micro-lenders or seek help from incubators are the smallest of the small, and, thereby, almost romantic. Everybody loves to hate big businesses after all. But a small startup is almost like a child in that in the abstract it’s all but immune to criticism.

Micro-lenders typically require a business plan and meet extensively with would-be borrowers to help them succeed.

Also, I'd suggest one 'male' business and one 'female' business, since while owning a business is aspirational for both genders, it's different for women than for men.

And vice versa.

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