Skip to main content

One Idea For Cause Marketing That Works for Small Business

Last Thursday, March 22, 2012 I took a call from a small businessperson I called Roberta who asked in effect, ‘how can my small company work with a cause to benefit us both?’ I posted about her call last Friday.

She had contacted two breast cancer charities about cause marketing; a local one I called Athena Charity and a national one I identified as Artemis Charity. (All the names have been changed). Athena put Roberta off and Artemis tried to lock her into an existing event for a cool $5,000. In my post on Friday, I compared Artemis Charity’s offerings to those from a local TV station, which are similarly high-priced and inflexible.

Neither option was well-suited to a small business like Roberta’s. Roberta has a generous impulse and she wants to help, but her ability to do so is severely limited by the size of her business. Moreover, Roberta was interested in cause marketing, in part, because she needed something more from the relationship besides good feelings.

Imagine instead a cause marketing effort that is low cost for both the cause and the small business, and yet delivers real value for both parties.

The cause carves out a piece of its Facebook page for a section called something like ‘Small Business Champions.’ For a modest fee, say a few hundred dollars to a few thousand depending on the traffic the site generates, the small business gets highlighted as one of the charities’ ‘Small Business Champions.’ The feature could be daily or weekly.

As a part of the package, the charity sends out a press release, which is basically the same as the feature. A link leads back to the business’s webpage or Facebook site. If there’s a transactional-style promotion, that too is highlighted. The feature remains on the page/site indefinitely. But like a blog post it gets displaced from top status over time, yet remains searchable. This could be a SEO strategy, too.

The small business doesn’t get to use the charity’s logos or claim to be a sponsor. And site/page is clear and transparent about what the feature is and isn’t. The charity might even say, ‘we have a lot of small businesses that come to us asking how they can help. But in the past we didn’t have a good answer for them. This helps us to engage with them in a way that works for both parties.’

I’m not a lawyer, but I think this passes the legal smell test. Facebook is free to the charities so the only costs are the press release distribution and manpower for its preparation. But if you stick to a template, you could probably use interns.

The final cost is for a customer service rep. But I think this person can be low-level, too, and run dozens if not hundreds of accounts. His or her job is to stay in touch with the featured businesses and gauge satisfaction. And, if there’s a transactional cause marketing element, they also double-check to see that the charity got paid. Finally, if the relationship is growing, the CSR needs to refer the small business to a higher-level person.

None of this works if the expenses get very high or if small businesses start demanding more than the CSR can or should deliver.

What I’m proposing here, in effect, is a farm team for charities. Like most farm teams, relatively few Small Business Champions would turn out to be future All Stars for the charity.

But, by the same token, the current system is very bad at identifying future leaders. All Artemis can currently do is find small businesses willing and able to pay $5,000 right now.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Three Ways to Be Charitable

I’ve spent a big chunk of my career working with or for charities. Many of my dearest and ablest friends are in the charity ‘space.’ And the creativity and problem-solving coming out of the nonprofit sector has never been greater.  Although I’ve had numerous nonprofit clients over the last decade or so, I haven’t worked in a charity for about 12 years now, which gives me a certain distance. Distance lends perspective and consequently, I get a lot of people asking me which charities I recommend for donations of money or time. My usual answer is, “it depends.” “On what?” they respond. “On what you want from your charitable activities,” I reply. It sounds like a weaselly consultant kind of an answer, but bear with me for a moment. The English word charity comes from the Latin word caritas and means “from the heart,” implying a voluntary act. Caritas is the same root word for cherish. The Jews come at charity from a different direction. The Hebrew word that is usually rendered as charity is t…

Top Eight Cause-Related Marketing Campaigns of 2007

Yeah, You Read it Right. It's a Top 8 List.

More cause-related marketing campaigns are unveiled every day across the world than I review in a year at the cause-related marketing blog. And, frankly, I don’t see very many campaigns from outside North America. So I won’t pretend that my annual list of the top cause-related marketing campaigns is exhaustive.

But, like any other self-respecting blogger, I won’t let my superficial purview stop me from drawing my own tortured conclusions!

So… cue the drumroll (and the dismissive snickers)… without further ado, here is my list of the eight best cause-related marketing campaigns of 2007.

My list of the worst cause-related marketing campaigns of 2007 follows on Thursday.


Chilis and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
I was delighted by the scope of Chilis’ campaign for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. As you walked in you saw the servers adorned in black co-branded shirts. Other elements included message points on the Chilis beverage coas…

KFC Concept Restaurant Gives a Nod to Cause Marketing for Local Causes

KFC, a unit of Yum Brands, is testing a new quick-serve restaurant version of the fried chicken outlet and among the changes is that its cause marketing efforts will be much more local, according to Anne Fuller, senior director of development for KFC eleven.

The KFC eleven test store is in Louisville, Kentucky, KFC’s headquarters. When it opens August 5, 2013, it will feature rice bowls, flatbreads, salads, KFC original recipe chicken among other items, plus sides. A second test location is set to open in Louisville before year’s end. The 11 in KFC eleven is a salute to the 11 herbs and spices in their original recipe chicken.

The trade-dress for the test store includes lamp lighting, digital signage with community news, and artwork from local artists.

Why step into the quick serve space? Fuller answered a reporter from QSRweb.com this way: “People love KFC but it's not a frequent choice for many guests for some reason. We wanted to create a broad and balanced menu that could mayb…