Cause Marketing for Entrepreneurs: Making an Impact Despite Size

Nov 28 2016

by Louise Pritchard

The Southern Coterie blog: "Cause Marketing for Small Businesses: Impact Without Size" by Louise Pritchard (photo LillyJo Photography for the Southern C)
photo: LillyJo Photography of the book signing + fundraiser by Hoffman Media, The Southern C and The Vine

In this season of giving thanks, I thought it appropriate to discuss what entrepreneurs can do to give back through their businesses, also referred to as “cause marketing initiatives” – a type of marketing involving the cooperative efforts of a for-profit business and a non-profit organization for mutual benefit.

Despite common belief, success in cause marketing campaigns has nothing to do with business size–you don’t have to be a large corporation to make the initiative impactful. The challenge is to make your socially-responsible efforts a winning proposition for the nonprofit group you support, the community and your business no matter what the scale.

[bctt tweet=”Success in cause marketing campaigns has nothing to do with business size. You can be impactful without going national.” username=”thesouthernc”]

Of course, the winning proposition for your business is customer attraction…and retention. If your business or brand does not stand for a cause, consumers may turn to your competitors. The number of consumers who say they would switch from one brand to another if the other brand were associated with a good cause has climbed to 87 percent, a dramatic increase in recent years, according to a Cone Cause Evolution Survey. So how do you marry this with a benefit for a non-profit and your community?

Recently, I had the opportunity to interview a small business owner in Williamsburg, Virginia. At first, I thought it was going to be a story about a man who had started an automotive repair business from humble beginnings and grew it to three locations. As his story unfolded, I was stunned at the national impact one man and a great idea could have on doing good in the community.

Charlie Marcotte started American Pride Automotive from sheer need to feed his growing family after separating from the Army. He started his automotive repair business from a rental storage unit in Williamsburg where he flipped cars, to today, where he has three locations. Along the way, Charlie met with adversity, coincidently, opening new locations on 9/11 and during the stock market crash of 2008. His spirit and desire to grow and be involved in his community was not to be denied.

[bctt tweet=”Businesses who do good do well. – Charlie Marcotte of American Pride Automotive” username=”thesouthernc”]

Charlie’s goals for American Pride Automotive where much bigger than making a buck. Raised by a single Mom, he had observed her walking to work in the New Hampshire cold and snow when her car would not work to make sure she could provide for her family. He knew when he had the chance he would do something to help single Moms. Marrying his God-given talent to fix cars with the need of Single Moms to have safe transportation, he started Family Service Day in 2009.  Twice a year, American Pride collaborates with organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters of America and Habitat for Humanity, and fixes cars for single Moms at no cost.

You would think the story would end there with this wonderful outreach to the community. Charlie felt a higher calling with the Family Service Day idea. Conferring with his sister, Suzanne Hawley, a PR executive, they decided this idea would have a national appeal in helping smaller automotive shops around the country do good in their communities. This dynamic duo set out to contact automotive parts companies like NAPA and CarQuest to gauge their interest. CarQuest jumped on the idea and agreed to a three-year sponsorship. Since taking it national in 2012, businesses in 26 states have served 1160 families and provided over a million dollars in repairs and maintenance.

Charlie’s quest to help those in need has not wavered with this bit of success. His refusal to sell out his idea to the big corporations is evidence of his true desire to help those less fortunate. He and his sister continue to work with CarQuest, now owned by Advance Auto Parts, to find the best way to get the word out to small automotive shops and provide them the blue print on how to put on Family Service Days in their communities. “One of the keys to the success of the program is having strong local partners,” says Charlie. There is more to the Charlie Marcotte story but this humble man said it best when he said “Businesses who do good do well”.  It is amazing the national impact that a small business in Williamsburg can have when the desire is there to make a difference in the community.

American Pride Automotive may not be a glamorous business, but its proves the point that anyone, no matter your industry, can have a major impact in a community with the desire and drive to do good. This is the true meaning of Cause Marketing.

Charlie’s story is one that grew to a large-scale program. This is not necessary to have an impact in your community; our Southern C founders proved this point recently by sponsoring a fundraiser for those affected by Hurricane Matthew on Saint Simons. I know there must be other wonderful examples of such campaigns amongst our readers and Southern C Alums and we would love to share them.


Louise Pritchard View More Blog Posts from this Author

Louise Pritchard is an experienced professional with progressive leadership roles and a successful track record in cross-industry strategic market development, relationship management and business problem solving
Ms Pritchard brings her creative problem solving and critical thinking approach to each client. Her passion and drive is evident in helping each client to discover the "ah-ha" moment when new ideas and strategies transform their brand strengths into results for their company,
Ms. Pritchard founded Pritchard Volk Consulting, LLC, in 2001 after nearly 30 years in the business arena. Her experiences with FORTUNE Magazine, as Southeast Division Manager, Director of Marketing of Holiday Inn Worldwide, Director of Marketing of Egleston Childrens Hospital and other high level marketing positions helped her form the philosophy and process for her consulting business. She is also an Executive Partner at the Mason School of Business, College of Williams and Mary MBA program.

She is a Auburn University graduate and an avid SEC football fan. With four grown daughters pursuing their careers in various part of the country, she and her husband enjoy their off time visiting them in Charlotte, Savannah, Atlanta and LA.

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