Initial Cause Prospect Meeting: Attendees
If you have a choice about who attends the first meeting with a cause prospect, don’t bring your boss, a board member, or your president, do everyone a favor and leave them back at the office — at least for the first meeting.
Your goal in the meeting is to position cause marketing as a win-win strategy and to find out as much from the prospect as you can about his business and how you might work successfully together.
That’s not your boss’s objectives for the meeting (and in all fairness, she probably hasn’t been taught to have a different goal). Your boss wants to talk about your organization’s fabulous mission and all the great things the prospect could do to support it.
Your boss probably thinks like a traditional fundraiser: She’s cause-centric. It’s about the mission (her mission). Such a conversation does have its place in philanthropy. But not when you’re talking about cause marketing, which is a win-win partnership between cause and company.
However, if your boss insists on going to a meeting, here are a few suggestions for turning her into an asset:
Educate your boss on cause marketing. Educating your boss is something you should be doing anyway, but before a meeting, it becomes critical. Share with her the latest research from Cone, Edelman, and Barkley. Point her to case studies involving national players like Pepsi, Dairy Queen, and Target on the for-profit side and causes like Children’s Miracle Network, Make-A-Wish, and Feeding America.
Refer her to Cause Marketing Forum’s website or better yet, convert her to an active reader, which is easy if she signs up for CMF’s regular newsletter. It may take time, but reading about the success that others are having with cause marketing will convert her into a true believer and an advocate for your efforts.
Be clear that this meeting is about mission and margin. Make sure that your boss understands that there is a time and place to talk about your cause and the wonderful work it does. But this meeting is about mutual benefit for both partners, so you have to be equally focused on the rewards for your prospective partner.
Have an agenda and give your boss a role. Beforehand, set an agenda for the meeting on which you and your boss agree. It should include a clearly defined role for your boss that’s useful and not counterproductive to the real mission.