Connecting with Customers

At a speech I gave the other evening, a woman from the audience came up afterward and commented she always appreciated the way I made giving to the community part of my business model.  She was referring to the many organizations who received mattress donations during the time I owned Sleep Country USA as well as the many other community projects we sponsored and supported over the years.  She went on to say she wished more businesses did the same.  I’m sure if businesses realized the tremendous competitive advantage such largess gained them in the marketplace, they might be quicker to step up to support local causes.

If you are interested in both making an impact in your community and building customer loyalty at the same time, there are a few basics you should consider.

First, look for a cause or organization that makes sense for your business.  A mattress retailer donating mattresses to various shelters serving the less fortunate is an example of a good fit.  In “Common Things Uncommon Ways” I devoted a chapter to finding the right business/charity relationship for your company.

Second, look for a cause your customer cares about.  I recently saw a great example of just this sort of connection when at Pacific Place in downtown Seattle.  There on the mall main floor was a new Subaru on display from Carter Subaru.

Along with the car was a large sign which read:

“Supporting the Community        
by Planting a Forest
One Test Drive at a Time”

It went on to explain “Come into Carter and test drive any new all-wheel drive Suburu.  We’ll plant a tree in your name in the Mountains to Sound Greenway along 1-90”

Why this works: The Subaru customer is more likely to be an outdoor enthusiast.  This demographic niche is reflected in the fact that Subaru makes all-wheel drive standard on each of their models.  This customer is also likely to appreciate the tree planted in their name, the legacy of a forest for future generations of hikers.  Even the tag line touches on a concern near and dear to their customer:  Carter; On the Road to Carbon Neutral.”

The nominal cost of a tree sapling makes this a small investment to get their target customer in the door and into one of their cars.  This is a great example of a business/community partnership that makes sense.

What makes sense for YOUR business?  What cause does YOUR customer care about?  How can YOU make a difference to your customer and your community?

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