Free Giveaways in Cause Marketing
If you can’t sell something, try giving it away. That’s what King Gillette, the inventor of the Gillette disposable razor concluded. Giving away his razors is how he grew demand for his new invention when at first he couldn’t sell it.
Free has changed all sorts of businesses — web, software, newspapers, video games — and it can make your cause marketing efforts more successful. Here are two good reasons that you should follow Gillette’s lead and give away your cause marketing programs, instead of selling them:
Finding a buyer isn’t always easy. It’s tough to sell cause marketing because a lot of the companies either don’t know a lot about cause marketing or don’t really believe it works. (Don’t be insulted. Be comforted knowing that most of the paid advertising companies do really doesn’t work!)
Given the choice between buying traditional advertising or investing in cause marketing, businesses will choose advertising nine out of ten times for no other reason than they would rather stick with something that doesn’t work than try something new that’s been proven to work.
That’s why so many of the nonprofits that jump on the cause marketing bandwagon end up abandoning it. Like King Gillette when he first tried selling his razors, they can’t find any buyers but don’t think of giving their programs away to build demand.
The company is the rainbow TO the pot of gold. You wouldn’t want to take a corporate check for the same reason U2’s Bono didn’t when he was pitching Product (RED) to companies like Armani, Gap, and Apple.
He knew the real money in cause marketing was not in the company checkbook, but in the wallets of the millions of customers who would buy these products and services. That’s why Bono insisted on a cause product from which Product (RED) would benefit. Today, Bono has well over 160 million reasons why he was right.
You can be the Bono, the rock star of your cause. Stop viewing cause marketing as something that needs to be sold and start presenting it as something that only requires free activation. Whenever you talk to a business about cause marketing, they’re almost always attentive but also share the same question: “How much?” The standard response is : “Nothing.”
If you’re dealing with a Thinker, he might respond to this simple equation you can use with prospects:
Value + Free – Risk = Great Opportunity
Most businesses would be interested in a high value, low-risk, free opportunity.
For your program to succeed, it must be free.
But even free won’t persuade some prospects. Not surprisingly, people value the things they get for free less than the things they pay for. It’s an attitude that’s common from less committed partners who signed on for a cause marketing program but then let it flop because they had nothing to lose or no “skin in the game.”
You also have to be careful because free does have costs. YouTube loses hundreds of millions of dollars each year giving away its service in hopes of one day turning a profit by selling ads and other services on its site. Cause marketing has its own expenses. Pinups, for example, have design, printing, and shipping expenses to cover, just to name a few.
The lesson? Screen your partners carefully to make sure that they recognize the real, valuable benefits of the program — for both partners — and are committed to its success.