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Baby Boomers Drive Entrepreneur Boom

Cause Marketing 101: How Your Small Business Can Build a Compassionate Brand

At a time when disasters are striking close to home—in the past year we’ve seen major trauma from the Gulf Oil Spill, tornadoes across the Southeast, and snow disasters in the Northeast, among others—cause marketing is become almost a must for brands that want to show they care about what is going on in their communities.

But where do you start? By understanding what cause marketing is and how it best fits in with your small business marketing plans. I can help you with the first part. Also known as cause-related marketing, cause marketing is a strategic positioning and marketing discipline that links a company and its products and services to a social cause or issue.

A Cone/Roper study on cause marketing offers three key reasons for small businesses to get involved. First, when price and quality are equal, 76 percent of consumers say they would be likely to switch brand or retailer associated with a good cause. Next, more than 80 percent of Americans consumers say that they have a more positive opinion of a company that is doing something to make the world a better place. Finally, the primary reason companies engage in cause marketing is to build deeper relationships and trusts with consumers and to enhance the company's image.

Ventureneer is offering small businesses a leg up on launching a cause marketing campaign with a free webinar called “Cause Marketing: A Win-Win for Small Businesses and Nonprofits.” As Ventureneer sees it, the key to success is finding the right partner. That means small business owners should ask themselves three key questions:

  1. What cause meshes with your target market?

  2. What business represents the values of your organization?

  3. How can each partner ensure that the partnership will enhance its support and visibility?

You can catch the free hour-long webinar on Wednesday, May 18 at noon. You can expect to learn plenty, including:

  • The buy-in needed within an organization before undertaking a cause marketing partnership

  • How to decide if this partner represents the nonprofit's values

  • How to decide if this partner matters to the client base of the business

  • What motivates businesses to partner with a nonprofit

  • How to determine the value of a nonprofit to the small business and vice versa

  • The benefits of partnerships for small businesses and for nonprofits

  • How to insure that both the nonprofit and the small business are satisfied with the outcome of the partnership

So whether this is the first time you’ve heard the term ‘cause marketing’ or you’ve been venturing into this realm without a fully understanding how to leverage your charitable work for branding purposes, be sure to check out this free webinar for some strategic insights that can help you help more people—and help you build your brand in a light that’s even more attractive to consumers.

If you can't make the webinar, check out this YouTube video for some a unique perspective on cause marketing:


Need Inspiration? Read About This 9/11 Entrepreneurial Dream Chaser

Debbie Rosenfeld is a World Trade Center survivor. She nearly died from carbon monoxide poisoning when terrorists attacked the building in 1993. That didn’t stop her from working for companies in the buildings. She kept working there for the next eight years. She might have died on 9/11, except she had Tuesdays off.

Rosenfeld watched in horror as the World Trade Center Towers collapsed. "We're outta here," were the first words out of her husband's mouth when he finally reached his wife by phone late in the afternoon of September 11. Rosenfeld was understandably traumatized and no longer able to work in the city, so she telecommuted. Eventually, her husband got a job in Columbus, Ohio and the couple moved there.

Rosenfeld continued telecommuting for her New York-based company until the firm decided to bring all employees in-house. She lost her job—but found a true love in photography. In fact, her “therapy” developed into her very own photography business she started in Ohio. Now, Rosenfeld is a full-time artist.

"This was the silver lining in the dark cloud of September 11," she says. "If I was still working in New York, I would not have been able to take the risk to start my own business."

Shortly after their move to Ohio, Rosenfeld submitted some of her work to the Columbus Metropolitan Library through a call for photography/art submissions. Two pieces got accepted and one piece sold within a day.

"It was a pivotal moment in my life," says Rosenfeld. "My husband said this is your chance to pursue your dreams, take it!" Now, you can see  in her photographic portfolio on display at Debbie Rosenfeld Fine Art Photography and various galleries across the United States.

Rosenfeld's goal is to grow her photography business enough to earn a salary and hire several employees. Understanding the importance of work-life balance is what Rosenfeld calls her biggest life lesson. Most of her life, she's lived and worked in what she calls the "rat race."

"When we lived in New Jersey, we went to four Broadway shows in 25 years,” says Rosenfeld.  “We never had the time or money for life outside of work. You need a full-time job just to pay New Jersey property taxes.”

The events of 9/11 changed her world and her outlook forever.  "After September 11, I asked myself, why am I doing this when it could be over in a minute? You could wake up one beautiful morning and it can all be snatched away from you," says Rosenfeld.

So while you are chasing your entrepreneurial dreams, remember to stop and smell the roses. Work-life balance is a must, whether you live in New York or Ohio or somewhere in between.
Check out this video on work-life balance:


Small Business Branding Power, Part 1

A brand is a promise. It communicates the essence of who your company is, what it stands for, and what customers can expect from it.

Despite its simplicity, many people misunderstand what branding is – and what’s it’s not. Others don’t give branding the attention it deserves. If you ask 10 different people what branding means to them, you are likely to get 10 different answers.

University of Indiana marketing professors, for example, define branding as “the process by which the true character of the company or organization is communicated.” But Ashler Hotels defines branding as “obtaining a franchise brand name for a hotel such as Holiday Inn, Hilton, etc.” And marketing communications firm Brady Communications defines branding as “the identification of a product or service with the parent company; it usually means the inclusion of the corporate signature in the ad or product.”

Indeed, branding is all that and the some. Regardless of how you define branding, though, there is one common thread upon which marketers from all walks of industry agree: Branding is vital to successful marketing. Just how important is branding, you ask? Well, a 2006 study conducted by market research firm Yankelovich estimated that a person living in a city sees up to 5,000 ad messages a day. Consider the odds. If your brand doesn’t stand out from the pack, it could get lost in the fray.

“Your brand strategy defines your company’s intent. In essence, it’s a promise – a promise that defines what your organization intends to deliver to its customers and the marketplace,” says Scott Glatstein, President of Imperatives, LLC, a marketing consultancy in Minnetonka, Minnesota. “Articulating a good strategy is only the beginning. It’s the strategy’s execution that determines whether an organization can turn good intentions into profits.”

Stay tuned for part two of Branding Power, where we look at branding with customer service.

Get Equipped for Email Marketing in the Social Age

I don’t normally write about workshops and webinars, but this is one no small business owner should miss out on—especially if you are venturing into the world of e-mail marketing (or have even thought about it.)

You can get some quick lessons from VerticalResponse, a self-service e-mail marketing, online survey and direct mail solutions provider for small businesses. VerticalResponse is a reputable brand—and the company is offering a free workshop during San Francisco Small Business Week May 16-21.

Dubbed "Email Marketing in the Social Age," the workshop will cover the basics of e-mail marketing best practices, an overview of social media, how to integrate e-mail marketing with social media and tips on how to get started.

"We've built our business on helping small businesses grow using incredibly simple-to-use, yet effective email marketing and social media tools," says Janine Popick, CEO of VerticalResponse. "We're excited to sponsor San Francisco Small Business Week and give back to the community that we're proud to call home."

Popick is a trustworthy source in the small business world. She won the 2010 U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Small Business Person of the Year award. E-mail marketing expert Jill Bastian, VerticalResponse’s Education & Training Manager, will teach the workshop.

You can register online at http://marketingsocialage.eventbrite.com/. If you aren’t in the San Francisco area, don’t let that get you down. VerticalResponse has plenty of good articles, case studies, podcasts and videos, as well as free marketing guides, on its Web site. You can get some quick info on everything from how to write a great internal newsletter to how to grow sales by building your e-mail list.

Why am I stressing this? Because e-mail marketing is vital to many small businesses--and many small businesses still aren't using this strategic marketing tool. If you haven't considered whether e-mail marketing can help your small business grow, don't wait any longer. Check out some of the free materials on sites like Constant Contact and VerticalResponse and get educated about this low-cost marketing opportunity.