Nonprofit Uses QR Code, Quora to Make Cause Marketing More Transparent

Back in January I talked about Quora and how it could be a resource to consumers who had questions about a cause marketing promotions, and an asset to causes that wanted to be more transparent about their programs.

This month my fellow Dummies writer Joanna MacDonald and I are putting Quora to the test with a QR code on our latest pinup that will be sold at iParty and Fuddruckers locations throughout New England.

When consumers scan the code with their smartphones (try it yourself!) it takes them to this Quora page where they can comment or ask a question about the campaign.

We plan to monitor the page regularly so we can answer questions quickly and accurately.

To answer common questions about the program we also included a link to a  frequently asked questions page on Quora.

How many people will scan the QR code? I'm not sure. A small percentage of shoppers most likely. But they may represent regular givers that want more information about the programs they're supporting at the register.

Will Quora be confusing to shoppers that don't know what the heck it is? That's a good question. Probably like 99% of the people out there have no clue what Quora is. But if they view Quora as it tool that gets them the answers they want it might not matter what the name is.

What else can we do to make our Quora page more effective? I think we could include a link to a video on the SPARK Center, the program at my hospital that will benefit from the program.

To make our program easier to find, I also added some tags to the top of the entry, although I really don't expect people to find our page by searching Quora. Most will go to the page directly from the QR code.

Or they may find the page via search engines.

A Google search on "spark center bmc" lists our Quora page as sixth on search results. Queries on other words and terms associated with the promotion also showed up in the top results.  If consumers are searching online for information on this cause marketing program, they'll most likely find it via their favorite search engine thanks to Quora.

That's another good reason to give Quora a try.

I'm interested to hear what you think about this experiment!

5 Reasons Your Cause Marketing Should Have Coupons

We've always included coupons on our cause marketing pinups. They have an immediate value at the register when cashiers are asking shoppers to support our cause. "Would you like to donate a dollar to help sick kids? As a thank you, you get these coupons that have $125 in savings."

It's a great one-two punch! But here are four more reasons your cause marketing should have coupons.

Coupons open the door to cross-promotional partners. We learned early on that some retailers would partner with us they could cross-promote with another business. This was the case with Valvoline Instant Oil Change, which wanted to target the minivan-driving moms that shopped at iParty. Now when we recruit a partner we partly base our prospect outreach on what businesses would value cross-promotion in their stores.

Coupons are hot! According to a Ad Age, last year redemption of coupons that go through clearinghouses surged 23% to 3.2 billion coupons (and up 30% to $3.5 billion in value) in the U.S., the first gain in 17 consecutive years. Through the first nine months of 2010, coupon redemption is up another 5.3% to 2.5 billion vs. the year-ago period, with the value of coupons redeemed up 7.7% to $2.8 billion. Consumers are looking for more coupons, which is great for cause marketers like me that rely on point-of-sale programs like pinups where coupons can be added. The surprising news is that consumers of all ages aren't getting their coupons from the internet, they're getting them the old-fashioned way: they're clipping them.

Coupons are overwhelmingly clipped, not downloaded. 2.1 billion coupon redemptions last year came from print inserts. Internet coupons account for just 1% of distributions. So if you think adding coupons to your pinups seems a bit old school, think again. A soon to be released report shows that 91% of consumers ages 25 to 34 use newspaper coupons. Consumers are eager to use coupons and they're getting them almost exclusively offline. And what better place to get your coupons than after donating to a good cause at a favorite store.

Coupons prove that cause marketing works. Coupon redemption during or after a campaign is an excellent way to show partners that cause marketing works and is driving traffic. After successfully helping your cause, this is just the result a business wants. One partner of ours was thrilled when a pinup program brought in 1,100 coupon-bearing customers from cross-partner stores that generated an additional $400,000 in revenue.

Coupons give your cause marketing program a one-two punch, open the door to additional partners and provides the paper trail that cause marketing works. You also have the wind at your back. Coupons are in high demand and consumers get them offline so why not through a pinup.

Why wouldn't you want to include coupons in your next cause marketing program?

Halloween Cause Marketing is a Treat, Not a Trick

This was a big transition year for our annual Halloween fundraiser. We switched from Halloween Town to HalloweenFest, which was held this past weekend in conjunction with PRU BOO, an annual trick or treating event at The Shops at the Prudential Center. Joanna and Jessica on the cause marketing team added all sorts of fun activities for families that made the event more enjoyable for shoppers, and initial feedback from retailers in the mall point to happier tenents and more traffic--just what the mall marketing team wanted.

The event wouldn't have been a success without our great sponsors!

A big part of the promoton and fundraising for HalloweenFest is our annual pinup program with iParty stores. They've been dressing up kids for Halloween for years and this is their busiest time of year. Nonetheless, they take time out of their hectic work to raise money for The Kid's Fund right through this weekend.

Hanging out at the Pru all weekend a couple of other point-of-sale cause marketing programs caught my attention. The one below with Dunkin Donuts was interesting. I had never seen them do point-of-sale before!

While we're still searching for the perfect cause marketing formula for success in October, I'm confident that Halloween is a great holiday for us and cause marketers in general. With revenue expected to bouce back to nearly $6 billion this year, Halloween is second only to the holiday season in consumer spending.

Check out this post I wrote in 2008 that hightlights the reasons not to be afraid of Halloween cause marketing. Here's the summary:

Consumer Holidays + Retailers = Great Cause Marketing

Celebrate Halloween this year by making plans for your own Halloween cause marketing promotion for 2011.

Also, if your nonprofit or business is hosting a Halloween fundraiser this year I'd love to hear about it!

Cause Marketing "Meal Deals" Program Raises $87k

The numbers are in from our new "Meal Deals" cause marketing program with iParty, Ocean State Job Lots & Phantom Gourmet and it was a big success. The program raised $87,000.

Proceeds will benefit my hospital's Food Pantry, which last year fed 75,000 people.

You can read all about the details behind the "Meal Deals" program here.

We're excited this program had a great finish, and we're already planning our fall pinup program.

Check out the preliminary design, which includes a QR Code. When shoppers pass their smartphone over the code it will link them to our new Halloween web site. This will give shoppers easy and instant access to online content about the event and our cause.

Would you like to learn how to raise an additional $50,000, $70,000 or more for your nonprofit through cause marketing? The Six Figure Cause Marketing Program returns September 14th.

This three-hour course is a tell-all program on the best practices for ordinary nonprofits to raise real money from cause marketing. Hope to see you there.

Cause Marketing 'Meal Deals' Feed Sick Kids

Our newest cause marketing program is Phantom Gourmet Meal Deals. It teams up a popular Boston TV and radio show with two of our best cause marketing partners, iParty and Ocean State Job Lots.

Here are the highlights.

The program starts this week! At least at iParty stores. It will begin at OSJL stores in July. Both programs will run for two to four weeks. Proceeds support our Food Pantry, which last year fed 75,000 people.

This is our first coupon book. It was surprisingly economical, especially compared to a die-cut pinup with coupons. The coupon book will sell for a buck and includes lots of valuable coupons from area restaurants and businesses.

We broke an old rule. We produced register signs. If you've been through the Six Figure Cause Marketing program you know that signs, posters, pins--not to mention belt buckles, hats and temporary tattoos--are just props for cashiers to hide behind so they don't have to ask the all important question: "Would you like to donate a dollar to help _________?" However, we printed register signs at the request of Phantom Gourmet, who was confident they would further promote the campaign. We felt the signs presented little risk of undermining the program as these two seasoned partners wouldn't use them as a crutch.

Phantom Gourmet added some great value to the program. Phantom Gourmet is a hit TV and radio franchise here in Boston. They will promote the "Meal Deals" program and our partners on their various media properties. This keeps our partners happy and PG welcomes the added exposure they get in iParty and Ocean State Job Lot stores.

If you live in New England be on the lookout for "Meal Deals" at iParty and Ocean State Job Lot stores!

Hospital Corporate Development Summit

Thanks to everyone who came out to the Hospital Corporate Development Summit today in Chicago. I had a great time and it was fun to meet you all.

I meant it in my presentation that I hope this is just the beginning of our conversation on hospital corporate development in general and cause marketing for hospitals in particular. My blog is a great way to stay in touch with me. Subscribe to my newsletter, my RSS feed, friend me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, etc. These are all on the sidebar to your right.

As promised I've included my slides in this post, but I also wanted to link you to a few posts that might be helpful to you.

In the area of cause marketing, check out my post 8 Reasons the Doctor Recommends Cause Marketing for Hospitals.

I talked a lot about pinups and point-of-sale programs in my presentation. For a primer on the subject, read this post.

iParty and Ocean State Job Lots are two of the key companies we've worked with for the past six years. I think you'll enjoy this post on OSJL and this one on iParty. Great companies. I hope each of you find companies just like them.

I've written a whole series of posts on Selling Local Sponsorships for Nonprofits. They're all right here! Read them from the bottom up.

There is a ton of info on my blog about Halloween Town. You just have to search on the term. Also, check out the official Halloween Town website.

You can find most of my articles on cause marketing and social media here.

For more information on enrolling in the next session of Six Figure Cause Marketing, which begins June 10th, read this post.

Let's stay connected!