Pick Your Partner

Small businesses can partner with charitable organizations and/or causes to create win-win relationships. Donating a portion of sales not only helps a small business contribute to a cause, it “gives the business a marketing partner,” says Lloyd Duggan, president of gL Market Research in Middletown, Connecticut. Of course, it’s important to forge partnerships and business relationships only when and where it makes sense for your bottom line, business, and company mission. When you’re on the lookout for an organization to work with, here’s what you need to keep in mind:

1.    Identify your target customer. If people who support a certain type of charity aren’t likely to buy your product, you’re wasting your time. Start backward by first identifying the age, income bracket, and lifestyle characteristics of those who will most likely support your product.

2.    Learn customers’ interests. Once you know your customers you can determine their favorite causes. If most of your customers are in their early 20s, it might not make sense to partner with a PTA. You’ll want to find organizations that serve people similar to your current customer base.

3.    Have a stake in the group’s success. Remember that the group you partner with reflects upon you as a business owner. Make sure the organization is one you can stand behind since customers will judge you based on the organizations your business publicly supports.

Tamara E. Holmes is a frequent contributor to Black Enterprise.