From Erin Mia: Business Marketing Advice For Charity Event Season

{A special guest post by the marketer extraordinaire Erin Mia Milchman. Soul Of Miami fully endorses this position. Sponsorship is one of the most powerful marketing tools available to business today.}

~ Erin Mia’s Business Marketing Advice For Charity Event Season ~


Well, it looks like it’s that time of year again! The preparations for charity events are in full swing and so, the requests for auction items begin. I will be forwarding you the requests sent to me by worthy charities with strong followings and successful event histories for you to select from. As a marketing person, I am addressing the charity event season from a business standpoint and offering you a bit of free advice that really works to generate interest and ultimately business!

I strongly suggest that in this struggling economy you select 2 events per quarter and donate generously. Give something of significant value that proudly represents both you and your business. It’s all tax deductible and you can request that your business name, logo, website and contact information be listed on all electronically sent event information including but not limited to the actual electronic invite itself.

Placement on print collateral is not usually offered except in presenting sponsorship levels. You will be getting your business information out to thousands and in some cases hundreds of thousands of live, active emails. Charity mailing lists are extremely valuable tools because they have one of the strongest “open & read” performance percentages being that they are developed based on “interested parties”.

Additionally, you may be also benefiting from social media promotion and mailing lists of the committees, promoters, sponsors and venues. Utilize this opportunity to NETWORK! Face to face marketing is THE SINGLE MOST EFFECTIVE WAY to generate business and form loyal relationships. People involved in philanthropic work tend to be fiercely loyal and patronize those who’ve contributed to their beloved foundations. That doesn’t mean just show up to the event and indulge in the free champagne. I mean WORK IT BABY. These events are a literal goldmine of possibilities.

Make a commitment to serve on the board of at least one charitable event organization per year. Its hard work, but I promise you will make life long quality friends and solid business connections. Not to mention that we all should be doing SOMETHING to better this world we all live in, and hey, maybe you’ll even meet that “special” person.

Finally, VOLUNTEER. It takes an incredible amount of blood, sweat and tears to make major events go off flawlessly so that the less fortunate can benefit and someone’s got to do it! So, let that person be you. Again, you’ll make some sweet connections and feel really good about yourself knowing that YOU HAVE PERSONALLY MADE A DIFFERENCE. There’s nothing like a good fresh charge of pride to put a kick in your day and guess what? It’s contagious. Clients & customers feel it and react.

BONUS: Got teenagers? Great! Get them onboard with you. They all need service hours to apply for college, and what better way to get your kid to spend some quality time with you! (Minus the texting, facebooking and twittering) IT’S SHEER BRILLIANCE! Memories galore. <3

So~ I will be sending you several request letters for live & silent auction items throughout this heartwarming charity season. Don’t feel obligated to donate to all of them. I’m not EVER going to ask you to do that. However, I do ask that you think about two things that you care about. It could be Cancer ~ sheesh! There are hundreds of cancer foundation options to choose from. You can help to find a cure, help to prevent the disease, help provide housing for families, make wigs and on and on. Perhaps carbon footprints really make you hot.” going green” is THE super fashionable thing among celebs and New Yorkers (maybe they can do something about the cabs & all that honking!)

Save the planet, save the oceans, save the trees, save the animals. You get the picture. Maybe someone you love isn’t sick, isn’t poverty stricken, isn’t necessarily a vegan or a tree hugger. Maybe they’re just like you. BUT GAY. OMG! Sounds silly to say that, but in a lot of the world and most of our country homosexuality is still totally unacceptable and often a crime. In some countries shockingly close to us, perhaps you’ve been there with the kids on vacation; it’s punishable by DEATH. Well, that’s just unacceptable to me. Can you imagine? I’m not sure I NEED to force my feelings on gay marriage on people who feel differently due to their beliefs, but dammit, the death penalty for being gay? Wow that one really got me. Not exactly sure where I’m going to channel this energy, but it will be directed somewhere useful and I’m confident I will make some fabulous new friends in the process & a biz connection or two (or ten).

Ok, enough rambling. I’ll give you one more suggestion for marketing your business or product. Listen up now!

GOODIE BAGS. This one’s a no brainer. Girls of all ages L-O-V-E presents! We will step on our best friend’s toes to get that last tube of free lipstick at the makeup counter (and the color always sucks) get positively giddy at the sight of a colorful paper bag with curly ribbons ties to it, and I know personally that my friend Christina & I have been more than tempted to actually try to scam TWO goodie bags from the really good fashion events (oh wow. please don’t tell her I just totally threw her under the bus with me!) Goodie bags are an awesome opportunity to get your products to demographically perfect highly concentrated groups of people. Are you a shoe store? Target a charity that attracts a lot of women. Breast Cancer, Kids in Distress, Humane Society. You’re a dating service? Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (strong following of single upwardly mobile fun-loving people.)

Figure out whom you want to target and let me know. I’ll direct you to one that’ll work for you. DON”T BE CHINSY! (How do you spell that?) You’ve got one shot to either thrill her or annoy her. Give a gift certificate. I like these best for small businesses because it drives traffic to your store/business, provides an opportunity for you to meet her, impress her, get her in your database and make her a lifetime customer. Don’t be scared. Even if you donate one hundred twenty five dollar gift certificates, you’ll be lucky if seventy-five make it home, fifty make it into her purse and twenty make it into the store.

What would you pay for a great new customer? Twenty-five bucks? Yes I would. NO question. Much better than advertising prices! Remember ~ NO skimping! You only get one change to make a first impression. We girlies find plastic key chains, cheap looking pens and tee shits simply awful! Into the trash they go! (Wasted money for you.) Invest in something she will USE/WEAR/ADORE.

You want her to look at your logo over and over right? Great. Put it on a sexy looking hot pink or stainless steel water bottle that we can somehow connect our keys to. Or etch it onto THE BACK of a bottle of wine with a decadent looking label that I’ll want to keep “just for looks”. Give me a clear lip-gloss that plumps my lips. Think about it.

I have referrals for promotional products if you’d like them. Start now, don’t wait for the event to contact you because these things take time to have made and you will not get them in time to put in the bags by the time the volunteers get around to asking you for them.

OK, so there you go. I hope you take my advice and utilize this charity season to work FOR you effectively, and that maybe I’ve begun to change your mind about being relentlessly solicited for donations! :)

Erin Mia Milchman
Creative Events
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