By Renee Zau, Co-founder, DonationMatch A question posed in a LinkedIn group made me reflect on how many (typically small) businesses don't know how to use cause marketing, specifically in-kind (non-cash) marketing, to their advantage. If you have a great product or service, one experience is all you need to convert newbies into customers, even raving fans. How do you get yourself in front of more potential customers without "paying" for it?
- Donate a package or certificate toward an auction, a raffle, or goodie bags. Most event attendees love these, and donors often get publicized both before and after the event. Look at donation request letters as opportunities to get hundreds, even thousands, of eyeballs on your brand. You can do online searches for event calendars, ask your employees and customers about organizations they support, check out community boards, or use DonationMatch (my site) to save time (we make connecting with events, sending pre-filled donation forms, and gift certificate delivery paperless and quick.) One more reason to like auctions: prize winners are the most willing and able to pay more for it than anyone else. You just found your best customer in the room!
- Provide event amenities (photography, food/beverage, decor, spa treatments, etc). For a furniture dealer, it could be VIP seating. Chocolates are popular party favors. I've seen HP and a photographer partner to make ornaments from photos with Santa. And who wouldn't appreciate mini spa treatments or makeup touch-ups from a local beauty product store, spa, or beauty school?
- Help spread the word. Your communications reach is another asset companies tend to forget about. Employees, customers, followers, subscribers... they count. Be familiar with events you choose to promote, make them a good fit for your customers, volunteer if possible, and the added awareness can add to a charitable fundraiser's attendance and success just as much as any monetary donation.
These opportunities are all tied to nonprofit events, my favorite kind, but may be seasonal or harder to find. Stay tuned for Part 2 of this post that gives more everyday ways to help in-kind.
Why not take one lunch break to reach out and explore possibilities with a particularly interesting local organization? And register on DonationMatch to be notified of event opportunities in your market - it's still free in many cities. I (and your local organizations) will love hearing from you!