The Cause Marketing Proposal

The production of a cause marketing proposal is a very big topic. Rather than tackle it in one ginormous 5,000-word post, I’m going to tackle it piece by piece over the next month or so.

Today’s piece of it; "preparing for every contingency in your cause marketing proposal."

Let’s say hypothetically that you’ve made your best cause marketing pitch to a would-be sponsor. It’s smart, strategically appropriate, and well activated across new media and old. You’re certain your prospect’s customers will get it and respond.

But then a week goes by without hearing back from the prospect. So on day eight you call, but don’t press very hard. The prospect apologizes all over herself.

“Everybody back at corporate loves the proposal,” she says. “Trouble is, unbeknownst to the marketing staff, the CEO had promised a campaign to another cause. The marketing department doesn’t think they can or should do both this year.” So sorry. Maybe next time.

While you could play off of their guilt and press for a donation from the company foundation, instead you decide to offer a counter proposal. How about if all the company does is for a straight ahead donation from customers when they’re at the cash register or when they’re at the shopping cart online?

It’s not terribly complicated. The campaign would go for 2-4 weeks. The activation will take place mostly in stores and perhaps in the company’s advertising.

I counsel every charity in the cause marketing space be prepared to offer something else when the first answer from a prospective sponsor is no.

I’m not suggestion anything that smacks of desperation. Nobody likes a sad sack. However, you do need to spend real intellectual time and energy game-planning what the prospect’s possible objections are to your proposal and how you might counter each of them.

Do that right and you won’t sound desperate. You’ll sound like someone with good sense enough to plan ahead.

Pre-planning for no’s and your likely responses does other positive things. It helps you refine your pitch and strengthen your sales skills. It teaches you to think of cause marketing sponsorship as a negotiation, not just a proposal or pitch meeting.

More than anything else, it gets your foot in the door with the prospect. You may or may not ever be able to get the rest of your body in the door with said prospect. But be respectful and play things smart and you might just make a long-term connection that can pay off in ways you couldn’t anticipate.

Here's a for instance: A friend in Atlanta has worked in corporate giving offices for no less than three Fortune 500 companies. If you made nice with her when she was at MCI, you probably stood a better shot at getting money out of GE's community affairs office or Home Depot Foundation, when she moved to those companies.

If not, you may have burned not just one but three bridges.

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