Managing Cause Partners with Lots of Locations

Most successful cause marketing campaigns involve businesses with multiple locations. For example, Chili’s Grill & Bar raised $6.2 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in 2008. This is an impressive total that wouldn’t have been accomplished if Chili’s didn’t have 1,400 locations in the United States and Canada.

Local cause marketing in Boston has pointed to an undisputable fact: the more storefronts a company has, the more money your cause is likely to raise. In one example, the most successful cause marketing partner is also the retailer with the most stores (100).

When reaching out to companies with multiple locations in your area, consider the following:

  • Company-owned stores are the best to work with. If you’re lucky enough to connect with the CEO of a company with multiple stores you’ve got a top-down bullhorn to everyone else in the company. Even if you work with someone else in the company, you’ll benefit from the close hierarchy within the organization and their ability to get things done.

  • Regionally franchised stores offer the best of both worlds. These businesses present a great opportunity because they are national companies that have been segmented geographically and sold as franchises to investors. It’s worth finding out if there are any of these companies in your community because they have the advantages of national companies (for example, brand, infrastructure, lots of locations), but they’re locally owned.

  • Franchised stores present some unique challenges. These stores are individually owned so in addition to working with a regional representative from the parent company, you have to work closely with individual store owners. It’s hard work, but it can be done. As franchised stores are the most challenging, consider the following tips when dealing with them:

    • Make sure that you have access to the franchisees. No one will explain the program to them better than you can.

    • While you want to work directly with the franchisees, there’s frequently a middleperson between them and the parent company. You should keep her informed of your work and involved in the process.

    • You don’t have to work with all franchisees for the program to be successful. Recruit those store owners that are committed and enthusiastic. Focusing on anyone else will cost you time and money.

    • Start exploring early on how to deal with the costly drop shipping of the pinups to each individual location, a common scenario for a program with a franchise. Perhaps the company can help you either with labor or cost. Consider limiting your program — especially first-year efforts — to a specific area of franchised stores.

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