Monday, March 2, 2009

The Chicken/Egg Dilemma of Doing "Good" Marketing

What comes first, corporate philanthropic choices, or marketing strategy?

A lot of companies have a regular charity they give to, and they give an occasional assignment to the Marketing Dept. (“Can you guys do a poster and brochure for our United Way event?”) The Marketeers say, “Sure. Does it have to tie in to our core business of Lawn Care?” You see the challenge. What the heck is that poster going to look like? A United Way logo made out of green leafy sod? Customers might be confused.

If a company has been donating to a large charity for years, it may be that choice was born from an old friendship or personal cause (the CEO’s mom had cancer), not any sort of business strategy. One large client I work with gives regularly to the March of Dimes – they’re in the grocery business. Not exactly aligned. Point is, start with the company’s core business or belief. If a client is in the food business, perhaps they can get involved with local food banks. That makes sense to customers.

There’s a nice Fast Company article about aligning philanthropic efforts with marketing, HERE.

Of course, I like to take it one step further, to make Good Marketing something customers can participate in. It becomes a joint effort between a company and its customers. Give them an incentive to join-in, like dollar matching. Or conversely, give them an easy way to give by tying it to a purchase they’re already making. They feel great about it, and you can give them all the credit for the success of the program at the end.

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