Secrets of a Charity Pinup Master

halloween charity pinup

With Halloween Town less than two weeks away, our retail partners are busy selling pumpkin charity pinups (also called mobiles) Download bmc024_8.14 V02.pdf

Halloween Town is a huge two-day event that attracted 10,000 people last year.  But the mobile program ensures the success of the event weeks in advance.  Here's how.  While the mobiles sell for just a buck, they add up quickly and will raise tens of thousands of dollars for the hospital.  The mobiles also include a promotion for Halloween Town that will drive traffic to the event.  Last year one in five attendees learned about Halloween Town from a mobile.

All of our Halloween Town mobile sponsors - iParty, Staples, Valvoline Instant Oil Change and Finagle a Bagel - are doing a great job selling mobiles.  Here's why:

Managers are key.  We started by educating store managers about BMC and the mobile program.  They're the ones driving the program in stores so we made sure they understood the mission of the hospital and how Halloween Town would support it.  We also explained how their support for the program would be good for business.  We presented it as a win-win-win.  A win for customers, a win for the hospital and a win for the retailer.

Motivate employees.  For the rank and file that actually sell the mobiles at the register we have an incentive program.  This gives employees, especially heavy sellers (ever hear of the 80/20 rule?), another reason to promote the program.  Employees don't always do things because they're suppose to, or because it will help a good cause.  Stuff helps--especially when you can get it donated.

Make it an easy sell.  In addition to helping a great cause, our mobiles include $175 in coupons, making it a tremendous value for consumers.  Help sick children?  Save $175?  For a buck?  Come on, what would you do?

Simple too.  A strange thing happens when you don't ask a customer to buy a mobile: they don't.  McDonald's and other retailers learned the value of up-selling ("Would you like fries with that?", "Would you like to supersize your meal?) long ago.  Like McDonald's, we keep the ask simple: "Would you like to donate a dollar to help a sick child?".  Will some people say no?  Absolutely.  But not the 100% that will say no when you don't ask.

Tie it in with other asks.  In our debrief with mobile partners last year we learned that some employees didn't ask because they were already up-selling the customer ("Do you want fries with that?") and either didn't have time or were uncomfortable asking them to buy something else.  So this year we combined the two asks: "You can save on a large fry when you donate a dollar to help a sick child."

Trust but verify.  We visit participating stores as secret shoppers and buy mobiles.  We get in line like any other customer and see if we're asked.  If we are, we reward the cashier.  I did this just the other day and gave a cashier a donated $25 gift card.  She was thrilled.  I also dropped off a bag of Halloween candy for everyone.  If we're not asked, I have a friendly conversation with the manager about how the program is good for everyone. 

When working with retail partners, especially at the store level, it's important to stay positive and to try to be helpful.  Retail employees are busy, work crazy hours and have to deal with the "general public" (God help them!).  They don't need something or someone else adding more stress to their lives.  So lighten up.  Be upbeat, thankful and constructive.  As I always tell my six-year old: sugar will always get you a lot further than vinegar.