Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Step Up, Step Out and Lend a Hand

Last week was National Volunteer Week. I hope you had an opportunity to do something, even if it was a little something. Volunteerism seems to be gaining more media attention these days. Perhaps some of the attention is driven by President Obama's volunteer initiative, United We Serve and perhaps the onset of the Pepsi Refresh Project or American Express' Members Project or Disney's Give a Day-Get a Day program has sparked the interest. Either way, it's a good thing.

For businesses, volunteering is usually the third preference among ways to give back. The first is donating cash by writing a check, second seems to be cause marketing, and then volunteering. A volunteer program should be in your mix of giving back for several reasons. It engages your team and is a business-wide effort, it offers you the opportunity to contribute when there are cash flow down cycles, and it puts a face to your business in the community. In addition, there are great benefits to the community, your business and team by volunteering. Here are a few:

Benefits to the Community/Cause:
  • New access to resources
  • Low cost solution to addressing needs
  • Builds better business-nonprofit partnerships

Benefits to the Business:

  • Enhanced image of a caring and committed company
  • Networking opportunities
  • Positive effect on employees

Setting up a volunteer program doesn't have to be hard. Keep it simple and enjoy the planning process of creating a caring business, a business that conveys "Hey, this is what we are committed to helping and being a part of the solution to a social problem."

Here is an article I was interviewed for Get What You Give: getting your employees involved in volunteer programs . In this article, I gave a few tips for getting a volunteer program up and running.

Listen, there is a lot of information out there on how to set up a business volunteer program. I am all about having it foster a spirit of camaraderie and community. Your volunteer program should absolutely look and be different than another business's program. How you do it, why you do it, what you decide to serve through your time is a part of the planning process which sets you apart and creates meaningful connections.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Botox Cosmetic~Expression of Kindness Campaign

Just the other day, I had a friend and colleague, Diane Conklin of Complete Marketing Systems send me an email. She ran across an article on Allergan, the maker of Botox Cosmetics, launching a cause campaign and thought of me. Thanks Di~

One of the industries I enjoy working with is the health industry and I must say that Allergan's new cause campaign, Expression of Kindness Campaign, is a light-hearted, well aligned, and an easy campaign for clients to be a part of. Plus, it is donating a sizable sum of moola for charities of choice.

The company is encouraging consumers to post Acts of Kindness stories along with their profile, on their website, all in an effort to aid three selected charities of choice. In addition, Botox Cosmetic paired participating female celebrities with each of the charities. Not too bad of a advertisement either as each of these women, Didiayer Snyder, Vanessa Williams and Vicki Iovine, Virginia Madsen and Nadia Comaneci all look really fabulous. Each of the charities are also supported by these accomplished women who themselves are inspiring the world with their kindness. The three charities are:

Children’s Action Network is raising the awareness of children’s issues and helps find homes for foster children in the United States who are waiting for an adoptive family.

Make It Right builds storm-resistant, green and affordable homes for working families who lost everything to Hurricane Katrina.

Dress for Success® has helped more than 500,000 disadvantaged women look their best for job interviews and employment through donated professional attire and accessories.

This campaign simply asks individuals to complete their profile and write about kind acts of their own. For every consumer who creates a profile, Allergan will donate $25 to one of the three charities of your choice.. The goal of campaign is to donate a total sum of $250,000. Not too shabby in change there!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Jamah: Handbags & Cause Combined

Just this morning, Jamah Handbags ran through my mind. My thoughts were on spring and that it is time for a new spring handbag. I have four categories for handbags: Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall. I have one for each season and change each one out as a season ends and another begins.

Jamah designs some of the most lovely handbags I've seen. More important is the story and meaning of the name Jamah. I first heard of Jamah and the owner, Nancy Gale through Ali Brown. Ali has been a tremendous mentor to thousands of women entrepreneurs over the past decade, a good friend of Ali, and givingadvice is happy to say that Ali International, LLC hired us for a special project. Ali Brown is not only a self-made multi-millionaire but she is a generous entrepreneur as well. She now has a Jamah bag named after her ~ the Ali pictured here.

I then had the pleasure to speak with and meet Nancy Gale. A (very) tall, talented and personable woman. While her passion is designing luxurious handbags, Nancy also has a deep passion about inspiring young adults to tap into their creativity, respect for self, and supporting products made in the USA. All a healthy dose of challenging students to dream bigger and discover their inner talents.

To carry our this vision, Nancy created her In True Fashion program. In True Fashion is a part of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship - LA Chapter, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

To read more about In True Fashion and support this program, visit their website. Meanwhile, here is a blurb.

In True Fashion builds self-esteem and work ethics in American youth through hands-on participation and promote the value of products “Made in the USA.” They implement a unique method that raises self-esteem in high school students through a hands-on participation that results in finished products and healthy competition.

"High school students will explore their creativity through the In True Fashion apprenticeship program, which includes workshops with expert mentors, factory time and business planning. They will learn what it takes to run every aspect of a business.

Spearheaded by JAMAH, the journey takes teams of students from JAMAH product inception to financing to marketing, with their hard work culminating in finished bags that will be exposed to the nation. The designs are voted on and the winning bag is taken into production and sold to the public as a new addition to the JAMAH Collection. Honoring cause and commerce, a portion of the proceeds are designated to NFTE. .... In True Fashion preserves and honors American craftsmanship. The personal empowerment gained from the In True Fashion experience and the appreciation for products that are made in the USA will positively affect generations to come."

So, if you are looking for a fabulous new handbag or if you believe in the mission of In True Fashion, visit their website and tell Nancy I sent you.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Connecting Your Business Giving Message to Market in an Authentic Way

Just about this time last year, I hosted a teleseminar titled, "Connecting Your Giving Message to Market in an Authentic Way" with special guest Lisa Manyon of Write On Creative. This was the most popular teleseminar for givingadvice in 2009. And while I have shared bits and pieces with clients since then, this message is so important for businesses that I can no longer keep it a secret.

**Below is the link to listen to this teleseminar (and it's free.)**

Did you know that one of the best ways to interact with your customers and clients without selling is to share how you make a difference by supporting causes and social change? Whether you give back in a small way or big way, on this call we shared the secrets how to create a giving message that connects with your market. You can have a great cause marketing campaign or community involvement program, but without composing your giving message in a way that captures customers you may lose that connection with them.

Your business can be influenced by supporting causes and when you create a giving story that is credible and authentic it can be a driving factor in that grows your business and builds awareness about charities.

On this audio link you will hear Lisa and I share:

* How to connect with customers on their terms
* POWER points to ask yourself before you start writing
* Why what you say is as important as how you say it
* Shortcuts to copy success
* Crafting copy that compels your customers to act
* Why credibility and authenticity count

Here is the link to our teleseminar: http://tinyurl.com/yhljllj

Friday, April 2, 2010

Esprit 'Love it and Leave it' campaign for Charity

I have loved Esprit for years. To this day, I still own a pair of Esprit beach sandals and sweaters from the 80's. Some things are just too good to ever let go of.

Esprit launched their Love it and Leave it campaign which benefits the Salvation Army - an organization helping families and individuals in need. Check out the video:

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Fashion Brands Making Charity a Way to Market for Greater Good

Today, I stumbled across a really good article, Charity Gives Shoe Brand Extra Shine by Christina Brinkley of the WSJ. Christina highlights Tom's Shoes, Judith Ripka and others who have been tieing their brands to charities. I love the spirit of Tom's Shoes and I love Judith Ripka jewelry as she has been very committed to the Alzheimer's Association. It's not that they set out their business with cause marketing in mind. It just evolved out of a passion and commitment to raise awareness and funds for charity.

I find that the newer or smaller fashion and beauty companies don't quite feel they are "at the point" to do anything charitable oriented like bigger brands. One shoe designer said to me that one day they hope to be and to emulate Tom's Shoes. What is great about this is the designer is already socially minded and feels it's important to make a difference. On the other side is the notion that they feel like they need to be in 'some place of success' to give back. Well, success is relative and once you arrived a 'the place' there will always be another level of success they'll desire to achieve.

The beauty of cause marketing is that it is not a donation! That's right. No check writing for the sake of helping out. Well, not exactly. Cause marketing offers different types of campaigns for fashion companies. One of them is a percentage of sales going to a cause. So, ideally that percentage can be 5% or $5 of an item sold. In addition, campaigns do not go on forever. You can run one for 1 week or 1 month.

Nothing thrills me more than to work with entrepreneurs in the fashion and beauty industry. They are true creatives, risk-takers and passionate. If people are buying your product anyway, why not take a week or 1 month to make the purchase matter. Consumers l-o-v-e knowing their purchase is connected to a cause.

You can catch Christina's article here and read more about why cause marketing is appealing to consumers and how it is benefiting the companies and the causes they give to.