Hitting the Wall of Cause Marketing

The economy is impacting every type of business and cause marketing is no exception.  I know we've lost our share of corporate partners this year.  Just this week a major partner slashed its sponsorship from $93,000 to $7,500.  Ouch!  Business is off, marketing plans are changing and new faces bring new perspectives and new challenges.  Here are some of the ways we're adapting our cause marketing programs for these leaner economic times. Keep your friends close.  You know who they are.  These are the companies that have drunk the cool-aid and will stick with you through good and bad.  Committed partners like party-supply retailer iParty continue to generate record sales in the three mobile programs they do for us each year.  As other retail partners have faltered or disappeared, we continue to work with iParty to maximize their cause marketing program and to make up the shortfall.  So far it's working.

And your enemies closer.  I love the dramatic, but let me assure you: these companies aren't your enemies.  But they are the ones who want to run when things get hot in the trenches.  These are the companies that you have to hand-hold through the rough spells.  The ones you have to reassure that cause marketing delivers a unique benefit that can not be found anywhere else.  The ones you have to give room to to adjust the timing, theme and length of their cause marketing program to fit their new reality.  If they want to be an event sponsor of your April fundraiser but can't do a point-of-sale program to pay for it until October, let them!  Make it hard for them to say no and easy to stay your friend.

If you can't bite, nibble.  Because we know there are a lot fewer five and six-figure cause marketing partners for events like Halloween Town this year, we're focusing our efforts on a three and four-figure strategy for raising money from the business community.  Since corporate ticket sales for Halloween Town have always been significant ($200k since inception) we plan to drive volume with corporate ticket packages that start as low as $500.  We've committed two sales people to calling on law firms, architects, investment houses, real estates offices, etc.  Many of these businesses cannot afford or don't want to be five or six-figure sponsors of Halloween Town, but buying $500 in tickets that they in turn can give to their employees or give back to us for distribution in the poor communities we serve is an easier yes.    

Other ways we plan to "nibble" our way to more revenue with Halloween Town this year include a Door and Floor strategy.  Already under-priced compared to the $23 to $25 Halloween events in Boston, Halloween Town tickets will go up at least a buck this year.  This will generate thousands of dollars in additional revenue.  Also, once inside, guests will be asked to pay a dollar or two for some of our most popular activities (e. g. laser tag) and will have to pay extra for things like face painting, balloon animals etc.  This too will boost our bottom line.

Like hitting the wall at mile twenty during the Boston Marathon, hitting the wall of cause marketing during a tough economy is neither fun nor pretty, but it is survivable.  You survive the same way you survive those last six miles: focus, perseverance and a great support team.  The goal is to finish intact, unhurt, and, most importantly, unbroken.  Tough times don't last.  Tough people do.