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'Causal Marketing' Programs

Updated on March 23, 2015

Causal-Marketing Defined:

“Causal marketing couples a product or brand with a charitable or otherwise positive cause.”

When I worked in the corporate office of my Dads restaurant, I ran the “FairShare” program. It was the restaurants long established causal-marketing program.What is it? A night dedicated to your non-profit organization in which a portion of the proceeds generated for your hosted “FairShare” night goes back to your group.

The burden of promotion lies on the non-profit (sports team, music club, etc) to promote the event before the night of the event, as allowing in house promotional materials would be soliciting from our own established business. All anyone has to do is book any open date (sun-thurs, specific holidays excluded <- the latter of the exclusions were my addition to the terms), tell all of their friends to go to that specific Shorty’s (we have 3 locations- all with their own schedule of hosted nights), on that night, and leave their itemized receipt with the hostess on the way out for the “FairShare” envelope. 15% of the total food proceeds, of the business generated from your hosted night, go to back the group.

This causal marketing program was progressive for its time when it was first established, and a long time ago became a foundation of so much goodwill towards the company. After being able to continue to change and re-write the program as I see fit, and being hands on in all communications, planning, and implementations of these nights- I truly believe the Manchester location is only competitive in sales with Nashua because of that program. During the school year, there are at least 8 schools/ programs that have a rotating and reoccurring date on the calendar every month.

Example: Mt. St Mary’s has the first Thursday of the month from Sept-May at the Manchester location and now the Bedford location booked –the families of students can eat at either of those locations on that one night a month, and leave their receipt with the hostess on the way out. Good for them, but good for us… who do you think is always talking about Shorty’s in their emails and school newsletters? It’s a you scratch our back and we scratch yours scenario.

I might be biased, but I have to admit if Nashua schools took advantage of the program the way local schools do near the other two locations- we’d have crushed Manchester in sales last year. In essence, in being the one who was charged with tallying the itemized receipts of these nights- not only did I get to see the total net sales captured (BROUGHT IN SOLELY TO SUPPORT A CAUSE) above and beyond food sales, and these nights are HUGE for the company, and really our leg to stand on in regards to the community relations.There is a cultural expectation of and a real need for the social responsibility of businesses to give back to the communities that fuel their sustainability. Taking that knowledge as well, I put together an idiot-proof package to give to anyone who wants it spelled out how to benefit from every aspect the program has to offer.

Just because it does benefit the company, and give it sustainability advantage, doesn’t mean its initial purpose wasn’t to benefit society. I knew it’s a social responsibility of a company you smile when you think about, to give back, and to do so in a respectable way. I didn’t want to make it hard to actually get some results in fundraising by hiding how to do it the best way for the group. I put together a list of best promotional practices (facebook events, email blasts, actual invites, talking about that night for your group it to your local grocer). I had a pre-made informational sheet on the “FairShare” I made about the program that spelled out, in the simplest possible terms what it was, which groups tend to be the most successful, why I suggest booking the date at least a month out, reminding all of your guests that it is also applicable on take-out as well, etc.

I have just been really lucky in getting to run a causal-marketing focused program for a business before and witness the self-fulfilling prophecy of driving your own sales by being willing to give back at work. No marketing money spent and the community does its own shouting out about you/ word of mouth advertising for you. With that said, you better believe I am not at liberty to explain the process of how once the receipts go into the “FairShare” envelope, the program is managed through its calendars, its processes of tracking, inputting, ETC. I also know that the concept is taken by Shorty’s- and the intellectual rights to all of their information, and system processes, and any right I had to the information were forfeited the second I left.

My brain doesn’t stop working though, and I was always looking for other causal-marketing routes to create and implement for the next concept I would like to help grow. In the Marketing class I am taking currently taking, the causal marketing example they used was created by a local bookstore in Massachusetts. They chose each day in February 2012 to give away 10% of their sales to one of 29 pre-determined charities. They chose the name of the charity out of the hat at the end of every business day.

LOVE month 2012- Leap year.

This is a way to have a regularly talked about community causal-marketing event month, that you only have to worry about maintaining once every four years. Also, because this bookstore doesn’t have a leg to stand on yet in regards to charitable giving (so far as the community can see or is being wildly made aware of) it makes it seem like they are doing all of the work in FINDING a way to give back to the community. I also really like that the concept is love, and once the 29 charities were chosen, they were chosen out of the hat totally at random to receive a portion of that days sales. I really liked the hat idea for 2 reasons:

1. The random hat pull really does associate feelings of and thoughts about random kindness, random giving and spreading the love.

2. ALL 29 charities, are (should be) promoting to every single person on their email list, enters their office, visits their website or reads their signage, to visit this one book store ALL FEBRUARY LONG.

They don’t know which day it will be the day that they get 10% of the sales, but they want each days sales to be worth it- their message should be 'so go once, twice or everyday because if its not us that day, it will be some worthy charity, and it will be us one of the days'. The reach of this one small bookstores name went from what they can pay for in customer capture promoting and through relationship marketing the crap out of their existing base, to the entire span of reach of 29 charities, all with one great idea. An idea so great, and so innovative of resource utilization, it was note-worthy in a Marketing textbook less than two years later- I’d say that speaks to the success of how the month went for them.

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