As a small to medium-sized business, it’s difficult to stand out in a sea of similar businesses.
Luckily, there is now a way that you can differentiate yourself from the competition while standing up for a cause you believe in at the same time. In Do Good to Do Better: The Small Business Guide to Growing Your Business by Helping Nonprofits, you will learn:
• The benefits of incorporating giving into your business
• How to select the perfect nonprofit partner
• The different types of campaigns you can implement
• How to evaluate the success of your collaboration.
If you are ready to improve your business while making a real difference in the community, learn to embrace the power of Cause Marketing with Do Good to Do Better: The Small Business Guide to Growing Your Business by Helping Nonprofits. Working with a nonprofit may be the best business (and karma) decision you ever make.
Targeted Age Group:: Adult
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I've spent years begging for donations for animal rescue. Then I learned about Cause Marketing. Cause Marketing allows businesses and nonprofits to work together for everyone's benefit.
"What if greater happiness, more meaningful impact, and increased profit are ALL surprisingly interconnected?"
– Yank Silver, Founder of Maverick1000
A few weeks before I started writing this book, I attended a speaking conference. Speakers from all over the world converged on Las Vegas to learn about not just the craft of speaking, but also the business.
One of the sessions involved a well-respected business coach who'd pull up an attendee's website on the computer and rip it to shreds (with the purpose of making it better). This experience is a bit rough for the attendee whose business is laid bare in front of the crowd, but it's incredibly helpful for both them and everyone else in the audience who can learn general lessons from the experience.
During one particular Hot Seat, the attendee stood up and described the following dilemma in her business:
"I'm a woman's leadership speaker and coach… but I also want to save the wild cats. I'm not sure how to make the two work together."
The speaker (whom I respect greatly and have worked with on multiple projects) gave the following advice:
"Forget that cat thing. People don't buy 'saving cats.' They buy leadership consulting. Stick that in a closet. When you make enough money, you can donate anything you want to the cats."
To say that I was horrified is an understatement. I think I even clutched my imaginary pearls. I kept my mouth shut during the conference, but that advice kept echoing in my head. It kept me up for two nights straight before I finally emailed the attendee. I'm including the exact email I sent her.
I wanted to comment on something that happened this week. You asked speaker about integrating your love of big cat preservation into your business and he told you no.
Let me first say that I respect him immensely and that I have not achieved anywhere near the level of success that he has (yet!). That being said, I see things differently.
Cause Marketing and conscious capitalism are here and they are not going anywhere anytime soon. Having something you care about sets you apart from the competition when you utilize it properly.
My suggestion is that instead of shoving a part of yourself into a closet in order to make money, you lean into it, embrace it, and rock it.
Cats are a symbol of feminism. Big cats are a symbol of power and strength. If you branded yourself around Big Cat Leadership (or something like that), you could call attention to the traits that make women such powerful leaders while aligning yourself with an amazing cause. Additionally, you could donate a portion of your profits to whatever nonprofit you support, and use your platform to not only sell your brand of leadership, but also lend awareness to a population that has no voice and that needs our support. If it sounds interesting, run it by some of your clients to see if it gels with them.
I hope this helps or at least gets you thinking. I doubt you’d tell your women leaders to squash a piece of their identity, but rather, embrace what makes them different, special, and a force to be reckoned with.
When I began researching this book, I intended to write a guide to Cause Marketing for small businesses (don't worry, I'll define that term shortly). But the more I read, the more I studied, and the more I observed the problems that we're experiencing in our world today, I realized that this book is about much more than point-of-sale campaigns.
Let's talk about your business for a moment. Hopefully, you're doing pretty well out there. You provide a good product or service, treat your customers right, and if you have employees, they're pretty happy. You are, however, probably facing a few of these challenges:
1) The market is saturated. You can probably list at least five other people or companies that do what you do.
2) Advertising is expensive and while social media may be the answer to everything, it's also everyone's answer to everything. Every single platform is virtually saturated.
3) You're tired of competing on price. Attempting to undercut your competition is devaluing what you do and making it difficult to provide the level of service you want to provide.
4) You work in one of those industries that's hard to sell. People don't want to think about what you do.
5) You've recently had long-term, happy customers who got distracted by the newest shiny object on the market and switched to another brand.
6) You don't like some of your customers. It's okay to admit this. When you are working with the wrong clients, work can be downright painful.
7) Your employees are going through the motions at work. You can tell that if a better opportunity presented itself, they'd jump ship.
You aren't alone. Thousands of small- to medium-sized business owners have felt these pressures. In fact, corporations have felt these pressures (though on a
much larger scale) for years. The difference is they (some of them at least) know how to handle it.
This book is about adopting the principles that big corporations have understood and utilized for decades, and applying those principles to a small- to medium-sized business or solopreneurship.
Imagine if someone had told Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS Shoes, "Don't worry about that whole kids-without-shoes thing. Just make enough money and you can donate whatever you want to them."
Imagine if someone told Yvon Chouinard, founder of the outdoor supply company Patagonia, "No one buys saving the environment. Just make enough money and then you can plant a few trees."
I believe that as business owners, we have both the power and the responsibility to change the world we live in. We can either embrace that power and harness it to create change while improving our businesses, or we can shove the very qualities that set us apart into a closet and sit back as our world crumbles before our very eyes.
Now, how's that for a call to action?
"Businesses must reconnect company success with social progress. Shared value is not social responsibility, philanthropy, or even sustainability, but a new way to achieve economic success. It is not on the margin of what companies do but at the center." – Michael Porter, Founder of FSG, a social impact consulting firm
What is Cause Marketing and Why Do I Need It?
Chapter One: The Problems at Hand
Warning: The first few paragraphs of this chapter are going to be a bit of a bummer. You have my word that it will get better! Just stick with me and I promise it will be alright.
I'm not sure if you've noticed, but we've got a few problems in this world. Whether you subscribe to a specific political party, or whether you're hiding under a rock like me (it's cozy under here), you've probably noticed that we're facing some challenges.
For many, many years, we've put our trust in the government to fix societal issues. Most people sat back and thought, "It's okay, that's what the government is here for."
And yet… There are homeless people on almost every street corner; a staggering percentage of children are considered “food insecure;” babies are dying because they don't have access to clean water and vaccinations; companion animals are being killed in our shelters because there aren't enough homes for all of them; veterans – men and women who have served our country and fought for our freedom – are living in pay-by-the-week motels and eating packaged ramen noodles; and our environment is turning into a port-a-potty on the last day of a weeklong music festival.
Nice job, government. Keep up the good work!
I'm still petitioning to add a sarcasm font, but I'm pretty sure you get the gist of what I'm saying.
Our world is hurting right now.
James E. Austin, author of The Collaboration Challenge said,
No longer can society look to the federal government as the main problem solver. Trust in government and politicians has diminished; the limits of the state have been acknowledged. This has triggered a massive devolution of social functions from the federal to local levels and from the public to the private sector. The shifting of responsibilities is greatly increasing the demands on the nonprofit and business sectors and pushing them toward collaboration.
And if you have a "damn rich people are just trying to get out of paying taxes" mentality… don't feel bad, I did too. Until, that is, I watched an interview with John Paul DeJoria, co-founder of Paul Mitchell Hair Care Systems and my new hero.
John Paul pointed out that the government hasn't been doing the best job of keeping our world running smoothly. So, is it a terrible thing if the wealthy people (like him and Richard Branson and Bill Gates) try to limit the amount of taxes they pay, and instead, set up foundations to focus directly on societal issues (which they've done) and stamp them out once and for all?
Would you like to join me in a round of "Daaaaaaamn."
I hadn't thought of that. Sure, taxes are important, but why are we mad at rich people for not throwing money into a broken system, when many of them are attacking these problems from a different, and likely better, angle?
There's a good chance that at this point, you're sitting back and thinking, "Sheryl, this is all well and good, but what does it have to do with me?"
I'm glad you asked that question.
You are a small business (or a nonprofit). Chances are that you got into business to help people (or animals) and to make this world a better place. But you may have subscribed to the school of thought we discussed in the Introduction: make your money and then do good.
This is old-school thinking and I'm going to present oodles of research in the coming chapters that will convince you that I'm not alone in this belief.
Research aside, I'm not sure how old you are or what stage you're in with your business, but I'm nearing 40 and still in the early stages of my entrepreneurial journey. I don't want to wait another 10-20 years to start making a difference in this world.
Instead of sitting back and waiting for the money to roll in so we can support the causes close to our hearts, I believe that when we support the causes close to our hearts… the money will roll in.
Go ahead, re-read that. I know it's a subtle difference, but it's a very important one.
Unfortunately, many people think they can't give anything away when they start a business because they have nothing to give. Nor, they fear, can they share a percentage of their profits because they don't have any profits yet. But that's the very reason you should do it. Without resources, you will need a lot of other people's help. And the best way to get that help is to stand for something bigger than just yourself and your business. (Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS Shoes)
All right, before we get any further, you're probably wondering who I am and why I'm writing this book. Let me give you a quick rundown so you can rest assured that you're in good hands for this journey.
As a teenager and twentysomething, I wanted to catch serial killers. I was obsessed with what made criminals tick. So I went to undergrad for a degree in Psychology and did a second major in Anthropology because it was cool and meant that I got to study in Greece for a month.
Once I was finished with my Bachelor’s, I decided that my best course of action to get into the FBI and become a Profiler was to get a Master's Degree in Forensic Psychology. I did. Of course, getting into the FBI proved to be more difficult than I originally imagined.
I only applied once. I failed the polygraph test on the "Are you a terrorist" question. In hindsight, it was a blessing. I can't even imagine working in that kind of environment and spending my days looking at the absolute worst of humanity.
Unsure of what I wanted to be when I grew up now that my original plan had proven faulty, I drifted from customer service job to customer service job.
And then in 2008, I moved out to Las Vegas after a horrendous divorce. I won't get into the details here, but if you'd like to learn more, read my first book, Surviving to Thriving: How to Overcome Setbacks and Rock Your Life.
What you need to know for the purpose of this book is that I went through a pretty severe clinical depression after the divorce. My rock bottom moment came on the floor of the bathroom. I was living with my dad and my stepmom at the time and they came home to find me curled up in the fetal position, bawling onto the cold tiles. My stepmom picked me up, sat me down on the couch, and gave me the best piece of advice anyone can ever get:
"Go do something for someone else."
For me, those "someones" happened to be animals. I began volunteering with animal rescues. Over the course of five years, I met my tribe: friends that have become family because we share a common mission in life. I've discovered skills that I had no idea I possessed and found mentors to teach me skills I had no idea that I needed. I landed an internship with a PR company and learned the ropes of Public Relations. I got jobs through my rescue connections, and eventually, got the universal kick in the butt that caused me to start my own business. And I realized that when it comes to animals… I have no shame. Like none. I will ask anyone for absolutely anything if it means that I get to save a dog or cat. I used to be an introvert. That's gone the way of the dodo bird. Rescue has changed who I am, down to my core.
As the job opportunities and then clients began to roll in, I realized that volunteering didn't just have the benefit of reshaping personal lives. It also had the power to ignite business opportunities.
I've spent years with my hand held out asking for donations. And to be perfectly honest, it gets old after a while. I don't remember the exact moment that I stumbled on the term Cause Marketing, but I'm fairly sure the sun shone a spotlight on whatever I was reading, a choir of angels began to sing, and I jumped on the idea like my dog jumps on her chew toy when she realizes it's in the room.
I co-founded an event called Businesses with Heart and eventually parlayed that into the Cause Marketing Chamber of Commerce, an organization that educates and fosters relationships between businesses and nonprofits to improve sales, visibility, and our community as a whole.
Hopefully no one will ever find the video, but in middle school I sang Michael Jackson's "Heal the World"… in French. I guess the drive has always been inside me.
Businesses and nonprofits working together for a greater good… I can picture the kumbaya around the campfire as we all toast marshmallows to celebrate how perfect our world is.
Okay, we're not there yet; but my hope, my goal, is that by the time you finish reading this book, you'll stand up, raise your fist to the sky, and scream, "Hellz yeah! We're gonna fix the world!"
Sheryl, aren't you a bit overly optimistic?
Yeah. I've been called worse. Before we jump into Chapter Two and I actually tell you what all this Cause Marketing talk is about, I'll leave you with a quote from Steve Jobs:
“Those who are crazy enough to think they can change the world usually do.”
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