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Think Pink for Great Marketing
by David & Lorrie Goldsmith

Watch out…the world is turning pink! And if you're not careful, your car, your couch, or your computer could be next.

We're talking about the pink stamp that the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation seems to be putting on everything from M&M candies to Energizer batteries.

That's right, batteries. During a quick stop at a local department store to pick up last-minute Halloween decorations, we couldn't help notice the brightly-and unexpectedly-decorated batteries filling the shopping aisle's end-cap display.

We were so impressed, we bought the batteries. Heck, you can always use AAs somewhere. Like other Komen corporate programs, the Energizer/Komen alliance, called The Power to Keep Going program, invites everyday consumers to make a difference through simple purchasing decisions. Komen will pocket $350,000 through this neat little partnership. And those M&Ms? $250,000.

So how does a grieving woman turn a promise to her dying sister into a multi-million-dollar research funding machine? Sheer determination aside, she does some really clever marketing.

So can you.

You don't need any special courses in marketing (so the results can be instantaneous).

You don't need to read any marketing text books (although they can be helpful).

You don't even need to understand that much about marketing.

Very simply, you can make a huge impact on your buying market if as a manager, you start thinking differently. Start believing that the role of any decision maker goes beyond managing. The role extends to the bigger picture; the entire cause of an organization is to deliver products and services and create cash. Komen "gets it."

Whether you're in nonprofit or big business, whether you make widgets or sell services, there are some tips from the "Komen formula" (our words, not theirs), that you can implement, too:
  1. Build the river. Realize that marketing has impact, but great organizations get everyone involved in creating a river of success. Think of a river that is fed by many streams: big and small. Every business and nonprofit is like a river in that it has many different strategies and tactics to attract customers, buyers, and donor sources. A pink battery. A road race. An online contact center. Komen's deals came from ideas generated throughout the organization. Advertising, referral business, publicity activities are common examples.
  2. Get a little help from your friends. Don't always try to spread your name around by yourself. In alliance-talk math, we've said before that 1+1=11, meaning that together you should be able to accomplish much more than two entities can accomplish singly. Find some common ground, common buyers, common needs, and work from that starting point. Komen.org lists 33 corporations that partner with them to raise awareness and funding. If you're in lawn care, partner with someone in roofing to offer a fall cleanup package: leaves removed, gutters cleaned, etc in one package.
  3. Say, "How can I help YOU?" Komen educates people about breast cancer and offers hope for an eventual cure by providing them with facts about progress thus far. Your target market has challenges that they look to you and your competitors to solve. Take an honest look at how your organization meets those challenges. If you lead operations meetings, do you center those meetings around reaching quotas-internally focused, "What's in it for us?"-or around the best way of helping those you serve-buyer focused, "What's in it for them?" Take care of the buyer and the sales will come along with the profits. Great management sees the whole picture not silos, or small disjointed pieces of the whole picture.
  4. Get up to speed. Twenty some odd years ago when Komen started, the internet was not a viable means of spreading the word about the organization. Today, they have an easy-to-navigate website that is informative, comprehensive, and available to the market 24/7. Do you? If so, is your website better than your competitors' in terms of offering information, even services, around the clock, that help the buyer? We participate in a bottle redemption program with a local youth sports booster club. They pick up our bottles each week, redeem the deposits at the redemption center, and keep anywhere from a small percentage to the full proceeds for their athletic programs. They make it easy for people to not only participate, but to track their progress online as well. All participants need besides empty soda bottles is an ID#, password, and internet access. Simple enough.
  5. Be something to touch. If you live anywhere near a decent-sized city in the US, you can touch the Komen cause with their Race for the Cure program by signing up to participate in one of their races…or if you don't, you can touch by buying batteries and M&Ms and a lot of other good stuff. How does your market touch your organization? Do you give out samples in mass mailers? Have you offered refunds on estimates when buyers hire your services? Hosting conferences and community events, sponsoring educational programs and athletic meets, and partnering with like-minded allies are just a few ways you can give people opportunities to touch you.
  6. Give. Yes, Komen addresses a major threat to the health of millions of people. It gives research grants to researchers, as well as educational resources and tips on how to protect oneself to the mass market. They don't assemble a mass of telemarketers with their hands out. They get people involved by giving. If you're a decision maker in a company, give away free information to help those you service. Give a portion of proceeds from sales to charities. Give cash back to buyers on purchases made. Give free newsletter subscriptions to supporters to show them how to get the most out of what they've bought from you. Give, give, and give some more. It will come back to you in bigger ways than you can imagine.
No one knows how many lives the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation has saved. But one thing's for sure…Nancy G. Brinker has done a bang up job of trying to keep good on her promise.

Sure, Brinker is the quiet marketing genius behind the mechanism. However, the founder has done something even wiser than marketing. She built a well-functioning MECHANISM, the whole organization, in such a way that it can capitalize on opportunities generated by its marketing activities.

In the same vein, no one knows the full potential that you and your organization hold, either. One way to realize some of that potential is to try out a few of these ideas and see what works best. Keep two things in mind as you do.

First, try to meet people in their everyday lives through your marketing efforts. Is it a billboard on the side of a bus, an insert in the Sunday paper, or sponsorship of an event? You choose from the buffet of choices.

Second, look at your organization as a whole to see where you can and can't capitalize on the opportunities that await you. Work to fill the gaps so that you can add the tactics that work to your executive tool kit.

Keeping your marketing mix fresh is a great way to add streams to your river of opportunities. If you ever get hung up about which way to turn, just THINK PINK, and check out organizations that are doing things right, such as the Komen Foundation.

Copyright David and Lorrie Goldsmith. All Rights Reserved.

David and Lorrie Goldsmith are managing partners of their own consulting group. Their firm offers consulting and speaking services internationally. David was named by Successful Meetings Magazine as one of the "26 Hottest Speakers in the Industry." Jeff Gitomer say’s "David Goldsmith is unique in that he can see a 30,000 feet view of business and then delivers the hand-to-hand tools for combat."

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