Cause marketing: a diamond in the rough

Cause marketing is utilizing a non-profit organization as a means of putting a for-profit brand or product in front of someone in return for fundraising and awareness.  Anytime you partner with a charity for anything it is a win-win situation.  The charity gains funding and exposure to a group of people it may not have been able to touch and the company gets to show people that they actually do care by helping out a charity.

Cause marketing is growing in part because some large players are getting involved such as Pepsi with it’s refresh project.  Other companies have the charity aspect as a part of their day to day business like Toms Shoes, their fascinating business strategy is worth a read.

The example I love to tell people about is a local company.  Coda Clothing & Shoes (@CodaClothing) throughout the year does not promote the store or sales via any mass media type other than the large billboard on the side of their building shown here:

Instead of telling everyone in Regina to come to Coda, they host Charity fashion shows where a large amount of money is donated to a specific charity and Coda gets to show off their new line of clothing.  It’s difficult not to like companies like Coda that are active in the community, that care about your city, and that want to give back.

I love the concept behind cause marketing because in this ever-changing marketing world you can never be certain as to what is the best medium to be broadcasting your message on.  Cause marketing works because it’s like putting a huge sign on your company’s building that says, “WE CARE”.

So when you’re thinking about the next big ad campaign to roll out with, why not pair up with a charity and try help them too, you’d be surprised at what you can do.


Pictures courtesy of Coda Clothing & Shoes

Different Dog, Same ol’ Bark

“You can be traditional in a non-traditional medium and as well, you can be non-traditional in a traditional medium.”

I heard this for the first time on the Six Pixels of Separation podcast.   Joseph Jaffe said it to Mitch Joel talking about what is currently taking place across all mediums.  I think that statement is very applicable for areas such as Saskatchewan, that have a much slower adoption rate for online technology and media.  Let me explain.

In Saskatchewan companies need to focus on bridging the gap between traditional and new media.  It would be ignorant not to be exploring what you could be doing online as well, to spend your entire budget on internet marketing.  If you can figure out how to be non-traditional in a traditional medium you already have a head start on the competition.  So how could you go about doing this?  Simple.

Begin by knowing that your customers have the most marketing influence in the World, give them the tools to spread your message.  Put your web-site on all printed material, if you’re on Twitter put your username on your business cards and e-mail signature.  Start producing content that your followers would want to consume be it video, pictures, audio, or a blog.  Put that content in one easy place for them to access.  Now finally they have a reason to go to your website.

Refine it.  Get better at it.  Keep improving.  In no time you’ll have a strong online presence that will pair nicely with your communication offline.

The other route that many companies are taking is the default, a traditional message in a non-traditional medium.  These campaigns standout because they just don’t seem to fit, they’re lame and their creators obviously don’t understand the medium.

Using Twitter as a one-way messaging service like a commercial.

Starting a Facebook group for no apparent reason.

Unsolicited mass e-mail marketing.

Anytime you interrupt me to put your message in front of me I probably won’t like it or remember it.  On the flip side, if you have a interesting and innovative way of telling me what you’re about or you start a conversation, I’ll probably listen, if I like what I hear I’ll support you and most likely try to influence others to do the same.

Just because you’re “online” doesn’t give you the right to dictate your message to me, all we hear is the same ol’ bark coming from a different dog.

What impression do you get when you see a company in a new medium using the same traditional messaging?

Thanks for reading! If you want to learn more about what you could be doing in the online world check out this post: 56 Uses of Social Media in Saskatchewan

What is strategy?

“Management plan or method for completing objectives; plan of procedures to be implemented, to do something.” –  Answers.com

“Strategy refers to a plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal.” – Wikipedia

“A mental tapestry of changing intentions for harmonizing and focusing our efforts as a basis for realizing some aim or purpose in an unfolding and often unforeseen world of many bewildering events and many contending interests.” – John Boyd’s

“Strategy is about knowing where your company is today, where you want to take it, and how you are going to get there.” -Peter Drucker

However you define it, all strategy really means is focusing on a certain objective and determining how to achieve it.  Have you ever brainstormed ways of revamping your company or product to ensure a more competitive stance in your market?  Have you ever wondered what may happen if there is a large shift in your industry?

Too many industries are facing large changes in how business is conducted with the majority of organizations ignoring it.  What used to be safe is now risky.  If you’re not exploring where you industry is headed, where your competitors are expanding to and what your customers are talking to each other about, you may be missing the most valuable information about your industry.

The best part about this ever changing business landscape of the future is that the internet, if used effectively, can become your most powerful tool to explore your options.  It is never to late to start learning, you’re already on the right track by reading my blog ;).

The choice is yours, either start learning and exploring or  take the “safe” alternative and do business as usual believing you’re industry is immune to change.

56 uses of social media in Saskatchewan

  1. Instead of “news” build your own RSS reader
  2. Begin following local bloggers in your RSS reader and keep searching for new ones
  3. Challenge a local blogger, disagree, leave a comment
  4. Offer to write a guest post for a local blogger
  5. Offer to write a guest post for an industry specific blog
  6. Hold a local specific contest (Treasure hunt via Facebook?)
  7. Start a local restaurant review site, make it fun
  8. Ask for feedback of your product/service via Twitter
  9. Offer to take pictures at an event and start a Flickr account for them
  10. Host a picture contest
  11. Host a picture caption contest for other businesses
  12. Encourage patrons to take a picture of their meal and share it online for 25% off the meal
  13. Tell stories about your product on a blog
  14. Host a community blog with many different contributers
  15. Start selling your product on Facebook
  16. Encourage employees to offer reviews of the company via LinkedIn
  17. Start a local trivia blog (written, video, picture)
  18. Offer free products/services to people with lots of friends on Facebook
  19. Put your website on all printed material
  20. Put your Twitter name in places where no one would expect to see it (get creative with this one)
  21. Put your blog and Twitter name on the inside of a box of donuts and deliver them to potential readers
  22. Put your blog, vlog, landing page or video in your e-mail signature
  23. Start a collection of local website on Delicious, sort them in a meaningful way
  24. Host an online garage sale
  25. Host an actual garage sale via Ustream
  26. Add you company to Foursquare, Gowalla, Yelp and any other geo-location service
  27. Offer different deals on Foursquare, see what works
  28. Host a city wide treasure hunt via Foursquare
  29. Host a 24 hour Foursquare challenge
  30. Leave an unbelievable “deal” on Yelp and see who takes you up on it
  31. Document the entire Foursquare challenge on YouTube
  32. Do a video production of your safety manual
  33. Record the “Monday morning announcements” on YouTube, make them fun
  34. Set up Google alerts to monitor your company’s name being mentioned
  35. Add you business to Google maps (seems simple but many people overlook this one)
  36. Give me a reason to go to your website daily
  37. Host a local “Tweet-up”
  38. Offer to begin a Twitter account for a large local event
  39. Setup an your automatic e-mail the next time you’re on holidays to say “you’re only responding to requests on Twitter”
  40. Have a video contest, offer a large cash prize
  41. Make a video explaining everything about your organization
  42. Make a video about a different employee every day until you run out of employees
  43. Start a YouTube channel for your company and post a video per week about industry specific topics
  44. UStream your Friday at the office
  45. UStream a different place/person in your office weekly
  46. Have a “submit question” box on your homepage, answer every question that comes in
  47. Submit a fascinating story to Digg and Stumble Upon once a week
  48. Sell T-shirts on your home page for charity, let people vote on the charity
  49. Start a Foodbank challenge with one of your competitors, document everything on a picture blog
  50. Create an interactive fundraising tool on your website
  51. Encourage all of your staff to fill out their entire profile on LinkedIn, make it a company wide activity
  52. Host an appreciation BBQ for the employee of the month, video tape it and post all the pleasant things said on your company blog
  53. Start an e-mail newsletter and fill it with the most helpful information/links in your industry
  54. Recognize employees who go above and beyond on your company blog
  55. Put your Twitter name on a billboard by a busy street
  56. Give free coffee to everyone downtown who becomes a fan of yours on Facebook

This is just the beginning of what you could do, the possibilities are endless.  Have anymore you want to share?  Please do!

Your Marketing Strategy? Start with a goal…

If you own a small business in Saskatchewan what do you do to market yourself?

If someone gives you advice on an advertising tactic you “should” be doing, ignore it.  In todays marketing world you must define your goal before any thoughts of a tactic are brought up.

Do you buy the big billboards on Ringroad?  Maybe a large ad in the Saturday Leaderpost?  Nah, make a Facebook fan page, everyone’s on Facebook, right? How about a commercial on the Wolf, Regina’s most popular radio station, that oughta bring in some new clientele!  All these tactics I’m sure would work for some organization if executed correctly but that does not mean you should be using them.

Yes social media is growing but in Saskatchewan the adoption rate is much slower. Yes billboards have worked in the past but that does not mean they’ll work for you.

Define your goal first then look at your at your tactical options.  Confused?  Give me a call I can help you clarify.

Fire the Marketing Department

We’re about to hit a tipping point in Canada.  Yes in Saskatchewan as well but I presume it will be a short time after Canada tips.  Stories like this one, about how Canadians for the first time are on the internet more than television should mean a lot to marketers.  The minds behind the marketing industry should be doing more to accommodate the shift.  They’re not.

I think it’s a generational issue as well as somewhat of an egotistical issue.  If you’ve been doing something for a long time and it has worked, no HBR blog post, University of Massachusetts study, or book is going to convince you to change.  More examples of closer to home success stories will be the TSN turning point in this battle.  But if you’re waiting till your competitor gets on Twitter to make the shift from advertising in the Sunday Sun to online, think again.  The companies that get in early to understand the media will be the ultimate winners in the end.

Large ad agency’s aren’t nimble enough to change their strategy and it seems as if they may be left behind with the billboards and newspapers of the old World.  The smart companies are testing the waters and doing their research, asking why before adopting an online platform.

For younger marketers this opens up a large opportunity in a very undiscovered and underdeveloped medium, the internet.  Soon a marketing department’s most valuable person is not the VP who’s been around for 30 years, it’s the new hire that develops iPhone apps at home in her spare time, who has a vast understanding of new media.  This younger generation understands  that you can not buy your way to a success using mass media anymore (re: Pepsi trying to force upon Canada’s chant, “Eh Oh, Canada… I don’t think so”)

Organizations now have to be accountable and transparent because of the near real time communication we have, this should be a positive externality but many companies still view it as a negative.  If your organization fits in this category your best option may be to fire the marketing department altogether.