It’s a fine line to walk for any business that relies solely on sales and marketing: showing your support for a cherished and emotionally charged cause without it seeming as though you’re trying to cash in on others’ misfortune and vulnerability. This is particularly true of automotive direct mail.
Breast Cancer Awareness has become the perfect example of how “support” can go right and terribly, terribly wrong. Many organizations – including those who laud themselves as charitable ones – have come under scrutiny and fire for selling swag with the ubiquitous pink ribbon only to line their executives’ pockets with the proceeds instead of sending all of the proceeds to further research and patient support efforts.
So, if you’re thinking of sending a piece of automotive direct mail that draws attention to Breast Cancer Awareness, here are a few simple steps to follow to ensure you do right by customers affected by this terrible disease and for the cause at large:
1. Keep it local. Chances are good that there’s a hospital or charity doing wonderful work for breast cancer patients and their families within your town or market area. Instead of partnering with a big national name, why not create a sale or an event in support of local efforts to raise funds and awareness for the great work that’s happening within your community.
2. Keep it simple. There are plenty of run/walks and big events happening all around the country and likely your area as well. Unless there’s something you can be a supportive vendor for, the best course of action for an automotive dealer is to keep things simple by, say, handing out pink ribbons in your showroom and clearly supporting a charitable organization during a regularly scheduled sales event or over a pre-determined amount of time.
3. Thoroughly vet the organization with whom you’re partnering. Nothing could be worse than partnering with a charity or organization that is neither charitable nor organized. Make sure they’re a legitimate entity and are clear about how the donation will be used. They should be quick to supply their charity name,. address and phone number, should gladly allow you to use their name and logo on your automotive direct mailer and be registered in your state (you can check this out by visiting the National Association of State Charity Officials here.)
4. Make the terms of your donation or support clear to customers and to partners. Are you putting a percentage of profits for each sale toward a charitable donation? Are you setting a sales quota, above which all proceeds will be sent to the charity? Is the donation tax deductible for you or for the customer? Is there a way to give at your dealership without making a purchase at all? Make sure all of this is considered, settled on with the partner charity, and laid out in your direct mail and in your showroom (and, make sure your sales team knows it by heart!)
Remember, supporting a charity and a cause like Breast Cancer Awareness is not only laudable, it’s a great way to get involved in your community and help foster goodwill among your current and potential customer base. And, whether you sent direct mail invitations to a profit-sharing sales event or donate a vehicle to a charity auction, your efforts will make an important and measurable impact on your community.