10 Ways to Win a Corporate Partner (con't)

Katya has a great post on ten ways to win a corporate partner.  To hers I'll add my own insights and comments for cause marketers.

  1. Find your match.  As Katya points out, "you want to partner around mutual benefits."  Focus your energies on companies with whom you have natural synergy.  Mission, goals, audience, and, let's not forget, just plain personal chemistry.  If it's not a good fit you'll know it from the get-go.  Emerson was right: "Only in our simple, easy and spontaneous actions are we strong."
  2. Find out the business and philanthropic agendas.  And press the former more than the latter.  Not every business is interested in charity, but all businesses are interested in making money.  Show how philanthropy can drive sales and you've built a platform from which to present your mission.
  3. Find an entre.  Connections can make a huge difference.  But what do you do if you don't have one?  Start by offering them something of value that comes at no cost to them.  Now that's a conversation-starter.
  4. Try to get to the business people rather than the community service people.  Where do you think there's more money in a company, in the marketing department or in the community relations department?  Act accordingly.  Sadly, I've never met with a community relations person who really "got" cause marketing.  But business people grasp the value almost immediately.
  5. Start your sentences in the right way.  I love this one.  Fundraisers make the mistake of always talking about the things THEY need, instead of focusing on the needs, interests and goals of their listener.  In short, they're a one way street!  Use audience-centric language that shows you're as focused on your partner's success as your own.
  6. Sell the benefits to them along with the social impact.  Business people hear the latter all the time, but rarely hear about the benefits to them.  Get and keep their attention by being better than 99% of the fundraisers that have ever sat across from them.
  7. Go into partnerships - like relationships - with open eyes. There are ups and downs in any partnership.  Just remember on what your relationship is built: trust, respect and, most importantly, mutual interest.
  8. Put work into it.  Become an extension of your corporate partner's marketing team.  For the mid-size companies I generally work with (that are already pretty lean on marketing) I become their consultant on cause-related endeavors, even for the ones that don't involve my organization.  Being useful and unbiased only makes me more  valuable to my partner--and keeps me close to potential opportunities.
  9. Communicate constantly.  Just keep it relevant.  Regardless of what I'm sending my partners I always ask: is this something they will find useful, if not valuable.  Again, see things through their eyes and position yourself as a resource that's helping them cut through the clutter and grow their business.
  10. Know when to call it quits.  If you do the nine things Katya and I suggest you'll always be the heart breaker.  They'll be the ones crying, not you.