Check-Out-Line Charity a Perfect Fit for New Balance, Komen

New Balance and Komen already have a great partnership. But Chris Mann (@chrisrmann), Associate Manager, Brand Marketing for New Balance, wanted to make it even better by involving New Balance's 134 stores.

But how? 

That's how our conversation began a year ago when Chris asked my advice on creating a pinup program for New Balance's stores. It was a lot of fun working with Chris, and he knew a lot already thanks to his fundraising work at The Jimmy Fund, his job before New Balance.

Chris obviously wanted to raise more money for Komen. But he also had some other good goals, which he wisely knew could be accomplished through pinups.

To further educate customers about New Balance's support for breast cancer awareness. The pinup was a starting point to talk to customers about New Balance's ongoing support for Komen. If they didn't know about the partnership and Komen's great work already, they would now.

To educate sales associates. Let's face it, sometimes directives from the corporate mothership don't always trickle down to frontline workers. A pinup program was a great way to reinforce New Balance's commitment to Komen on every level, and to get employees talking (and learning) about the partnership.

While New Balance has 134 stores, the foot traffic is modest compared to other types of retailers. It's not like selling pinups at a busy supermarket or restaurant chain.  With a daily average of just 35 transactions, New Balance had to make the most of every single customer.

I told Chris that I faced a similar challenge with Valvoline Instant Oil Change, which averages  50 customers per store each day. In VIOC's case, we sold the pinup for $3 and added coupons to incentivize customers. Chris did just that. He sold the pinup for $5 and offered shoppers $10 off their next purchase.

The October pinup program for Komen raised $29,000.

A few things Chris learned from his program.

The ask is all. If you politely ask shoppers to buy a pinup at the register, not all of them will say yes. But a lot will. But if you don't ask, no one will buy a pinup. Period. It's that simple.

Take a top-down approach. Communicating effectively with store managers is key and will drive the success of the program.

Incentives work. I've had mixed results with incentives, but Chris reminded me of an incentive that always works: recognition. He created a friendly competition among stores with bragging rights in company communications.

Chris plans to repeat the October pinup program for Komen. He also plans to do another pinup program for Girls on the Run in May.