Looking for Your First Cause Marketing Partner? Try Your Corner Market

Supermarkets A common question I get is how can a local nonprofit land a cause marketing deals with a national chain when the latter will only work with large, national nonprofits. It's simple: don't target national chains. Instead, target regional, mid-size chains that are more likely to work with a local charity that's more visible in their service area.

Look at the list of America's Best Supermarkets to the right. In the 2012 ranking, there are four supermarkets I've never heard of - and with good reason. These supermarkets are located outside Massachusetts.

Take the Stater Brothers supermarket chain. Don't know them, but you probably do if you live in Southern California where they have 167 stores. As far as I can tell they don't work with a national nonprofit. This press release highlights their work with local food banks.

Another example is Raley's, which has 137 stores, mainly north of San Francisco. Their latest press release talks about their support for Sacramento parks.

Harris Teeter is another example with 200 locations. Fairway opened its 100th store in 2011.

These midsize chains are excellent candidates for cause marketing programs. They have plenty of locations and foot traffic for a pinup program, which commonly raise a lot of money in supermarkets.

However, don't stop with supermarkets. Target other mid-size chains as well (e.g. convenience stores, restaurants, even fast lube chains).

I've had success with all sorts of mid-size businesses and here's what they all had in common: you've never heard of them, because they are native to my area.

So, if you're searching for a cause marketing partner, forget the big national chains. They're busy with their big national cause marketing programs. Go where you're known, welcomed and loved. Visit your local market. Tell 'em I sent you!

* * *

Hope blocks charity super 008

Speaking of supermarkets, check out this cool idea from Budgens supermarkets in the U.K. Here's how The Guardian describes it.

Wooden blocks roughly the size of box of Maltesers branded with the single word "hope" will be interspersed with groceries at branches of Budgens in Crouch End and Belsize Park in London in a pilot scheme. Shoppers will be urged to take them to the till where they will be charged £1 per block which the retailer will forward to the Alzheimer's Society – the block is returned to the shelf.

I asked the same question after reading this: what's a box of Maltesers? I found this image.

I like how the blocks are on the shelves just like any other item. This might be a good alternative to a traditional pinup programs, which are getting a little overdone in supermarkets. The challenge of swapping pinups for blocks is that without the ask from the cashier (e.g. "Would you like to donate a dollar to Alzheimer's Society?") you should plan on raising a lot less money.