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Reaching Out to Cause Marketing Prospects

Before trying to communicate with a cause marketing partner prospect, take a minute to consider how you plan to connect with her about cause marketing. How do you plan to identify with the needs of the prospect because that’s how cause marketing — and everything else — gets sold.

Persuasion occurs through identification. The more you can align your message with the needs, beliefs, attitudes, and expectations of your prospects, the more likely they are to support you. Businesses support causes they can relate to and that meet their needs.

Here are a few tips for building that special connection:

  • Don’t sell to the hard ones; sell to the easy ones. Target businesses that are geographically and emotionally connected to your cause. Look for the intersection of location and experience with a mission. For example, if your organization is like ours and serves a poor population a good prospect may be a local business owner who grew up poor and maybe even benefited from your nonprofit’s services.

    It’s more likely he will be open to your appeals than someone who runs a business outside your area and grew up well-off. The circle strategy applies here, too. In the inner circles are companies that are geographically connected to your nonprofit’s mission. They’re the easy ones.

  • Play your strongest card. What is it about your mission or your cause marketing program that is most compelling? Is it that your organization has excellent brand recognition in your area? Or do you have a partnership with a great company that everyone wants to work with?

    When Joe started his career at the Muscular Dystrophy Association, the juggernaut was the annual Jerry Lewis Telethon. Even then a tradition for decades, Telethon had a national reach, celebrities, and a local television broadcast. Whenever Joe met with prospects, he always led with the Telethon, because that’s what got everyone’s attention.

    A few years later, when Joe was selling underwriting for public television to local companies, the strongest card was the affluent, influential, sophisticated viewer that businesses could reach by underwriting PBS. But Joe had one other card to play with companies: public TV’s award-winning children’s programming.

    If the prospect had kids, characters like Elmo, Arthur, and Cookie Monster made for an easy, friendly, and mutual connection. You probably don’t have Elmo to talk about, but you do have a strong card to play. Don’t leave it sitting in the deck.

  • But don’t overdo it. You should have a whole hand of cards to show your prospect. With one example, a Halloween Town, the cause marketers had lots of other things to talk about in addition to the crowd. They had a month-long promotion leading up to the event and cross-promotions with participating companies.

  • Building a connection takes time. Remember, persuasion is incremental. People generally don’t accept new ideas quickly or easily, so you need to be realistic about what you can accomplish with each interaction. Start today, but build in lots of extra time so that you can reach your goals.

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