Thursday, April 29, 2010

Adding charitable activities to your marketing plan

Your marketing plan is a living document. Customers' wants and needs from the businesses they purchase from is constantly changing, so you as a business owner will need to accommodate these changes or risk being left in the dust by your competition. Many customers are now looking beyond price and selection in choosing a business to meet their shopping needs. The values of a business can make or break a sale.

Customers are looking for businesses who regularly participate in charitable giving. This can be through product donations or money. Why is charitable giving a hot topic for buyers? It may be because of recent economic problems like corporate bailouts. The thought of employees losing their jobs while CEOs pull in million dollar paychecks has left a sour taste in the mouths of many consumers. Consumers are looking to spend their money at businesses that are not just out for profit, but are instead looking to help their community. Some examples:
1. As a jelly maker, you advertise that 30% of the profits from your newest flavor will be donated to a local animal shelter.
2. At your farm market, you advertise that on Tuesdays, 10% of all profits will be donated to pediatric cancer research.
3. At your bakery, you advertise that any unsold bread will be donated to your local food bank.

To help alert charity-conscious consumers about your giving, try using social media. Twitter and Facebook are great outlets for this. Post regularly about what will be donated and the charities that will benefit from your giving. Also, ask the charity that you are giving to to also post about your business's charitable activities. There are even services available to advertise charitable businesses, like HelpOT ( HelpOT's mission is to bring together businesses and advertise their charitable activities using social media. Each city has a Twitter account and posts about local businesses. (Right now, HelpOT is only available in Austin, Chicago, New York City, San Francisco, Orange County, Dallas, and Los Angeles, but check back often for info about your city.) All participating businesses can post to this Twitter account and talk about their charitable activities. Customers can then see all of the charitable activities taking place in their city.

As a business owner, has your business participated in any charitable activities? If so, has this increased sales? How did you advertise?

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