Persuasion occurs through identification. It's one of the basic tenets I live by. It means that we are usually more convincing when we can identify with our prospect's needs, attitudes, interests and beliefs. When your message aligns with needs, the "pain", as it's sometimes called, you get a spark of persuasion. String enough of those sparks together and you have the light and warmth that comes from the flame of a new partnership.
Despite its lofty intentions, cause marketing isn't any different from any other idea, product or service: nothing happens until it gets sold. That's why I'm always looking for new ways to meet the needs of prospects and create a spark.
My flint today is a recent post by Sam Decker on Analyzing Groupon Profitability: 7 Factors for Group Buying Success. It really got me thinking about how Groupon works and its similarities to cause marketing (not to be confused with my earlier post on Groupon as cause marketing, better known as Causeon).
Here's an example of how I plan to use Groupon in future conversations with local businesses to explain and underscore the value of cause marketing.
Me: Are you familiar with Groupon?
Prospect: Sure. We did a promotion with them last year when they weren't as wildly popular as they are now. It went really well. We didn't know what to expect from it, but I think we made money off it. We've been trying to do another offer ever since, but good luck getting anyone from Groupon to call you back. They have plenty of business now.
Me: Well, the cause marketing programs I offer are a lot like Groupon.
Prospect: How so?
Me: Like Groupon, our cause marketing model is focused on helping local businesses like yours attract new customers.
Prospect: I thought you wanted to raise money for your charity?
Me: I do and we will. But cause marketing partnerships are win-win. We both should benefit from working together.
Prospect: I hear that, but Groupon has a huge mailing list of prospective customers for me. You want me to to sell pinups to my customers. How do I get new customers from that?
Me: True, we don't have the huge list Groupon has, but we do have two other retail partners for this program. With you on board, we could potentially recruit more. All these partners will be selling pinups in their stores with your offer alongside theirs [I present exhibit A]. You'll do the same for them. One of our pinup partners redeemed 700 coupons from pinups that had been sold in another partner's stores. The cross-promotion works.
Prospect: But with Groupon I got this incredible awareness and visibility from the program that really got people talking about my business. That was priceless. Can you do that?
Me: We can actually take it one step further because cause marketing delivers favorable awareness. When customers see that you're involved in a campaign to help a cause, you'll get a lot more than buzz. You'll get positive buzz, the kind that deepens your favorability and credibility. Only cause marketing delivers this.
But the real upside from cause marketing is that while your average Groupon customer may only be as loyal for as long as the expiration date on the coupon you give her, cause marketing can actually sustain customer loyalty. It gives you a competitive edge beyond product and price. The edge is slight when product and price are equal, but an advantage is advantage, right?
By selling cause marketing as a Groupon-like promotion you'll be speaking a language to which a prospect can relate and is responsive. It's a wonderful way to start a conversation.