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Point-of-Sale Program Success: Setting Limits

Limits are key to your success in cause marketing. If your cause marketing donors don’t feel their support will make a difference or make them feel good, they will “avert their eyes.” Seth Godin,the marketing guru and author of such classics as The Purple Cow (Portfolio Hardcover) contends that fewer people will turn away and a new class of donors could rise if they have a ceiling set for them.

Keep these two things in mind:

  • Cause marketing isn’t blue-blooded philanthropy. It’s red-blooded. It’s fundraising for the masses that either asks shoppers for a small donation when they checkout or a company makes a donation to their favorite causes when they purchase a product.

  • Cause marketing asks should always have a ceiling. Donate a buck, two bucks. That’s it. Buy a coffee, and a dime goes to Haiti or Africa. Consumers want to know what they can do and how their donation is making a real difference.

So, you should make sure to set a limit — generally $1 to $5 for point-of-sale programs — of how much you want shoppers to contribute.

In one example a retailer did work outside a limit. Ocean State Job Lot, a Rhode Island–based retailer with 100 New England stores, sold a $1 pinup but then encouraged shoppers to give more. It wasn’t a bad strategy. The company raised a lot of money. But the research indicated that most of their customers chose the dollar limit.

Thanks to the polite but persistent efforts of Job Lot employees, some generous shoppers gave more. But others may have given less or not at all because there were no limits.

Experiment for yourself and see what happens.

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