Reeling in More Business

Rates1With Halloween Town over, the cause marketing team has been busy meeting with sponsors to get their feedback and to recommit them for next year.  We've also been spending a lot of time reaching out to new sponsors, many of them retailers. 

Why retailers?  Because they have the foot traffic to support the mobile programs that are our bread and butter fundraiser.  In exchange for asking their customers to support the hospital (our best Halloween Town partner raised over $100k), retailers receive a major sponsorship to one of our events.  Win-win, no?

But retailers are more than just good partners for cause marketing programs.  Practitioners like you and me can also learn from them.  I was reminded of this by the November issue of Boston Magazine, which had a sales article on how local retail pros reel in buyers.  Their tips may be just the bait you need to land that next big partner.

From Patricia, a fur specialist for Saks: “It’s not hard to sell any product that you understand, love and believe in....Clients come to me because I have an understanding of practicality and fashion.”

As a cause marketer you need that same kind of passion for what you do.  But enthusiasm isn't enough.  You also need to understand your prospect’s business and how you can realistically help them.  If you can do this, you’ll share something with Patricia: clients that come to YOU.

From Donna, general manager of a jewelry store:  “It’s much harder to sell diamonds now.  People come in with notes, pads, pages of information.  They study….but there’s still something that they won’t see—the punch, the something special.”

Likewise, prospects are much more discriminating about which organizations they work with.  Like diamonds, they pour over them and rarely pick the first one they see.  But what can distinguish you is that “something special.”  What is it that you can do that’s unique and different and valuable from what anyone else can do?  Find out what makes you a diamond in the ruff and shine.

Jim, salesman at a BMW dealership:  "BMW customers are extremely bright, and most are very well educated.  If I can appreciate that and not patronize them, then we're usually very much in step.  [For example] Doctors are very technical, they know what they want, but it takes a lot of patience and a lot of time."

Like Jim, I size-up my prospects.  Shortly after speaking with them, I'll decide if they are a thinker, a feeler, or a deferrer.  Thinkers are evidence based and want to see all the stats and figures (like Jim's doctors).  Feelers respond to emotional appeals.  And deferrers yield to the opinions of others (e.g. If so and so is doing it, then it must be right for them).  Gather your information, size-up your prospect and pitch accordingly.

From Seth, manager of a ski shop:  “Most of the stuff we sell here I don’t really consider to be a necessity.  It’s more entertainment or recreation….We’re not really pressuring sales people….It’s just about building a relationship and getting to know people.”

Yes, it's true: cause marketing, like snowboards, isn't a necessity.  But it does make beautiful window dressing.  Starbucks would still be a good business if it didn’t practice cause marketing, but it probably wouldn’t be as good a business.  That's what cause marketing does.  It enhances, it magnifies.  The lesson here is to be less focused on being pushy and more concerned with building a rapport with prospects.  Be nice.  Say "free" a lot.  Smile.  Mr. Prospect is holding all the cards.  And he knows it.