Wednesday, August 19, 2009

New "Gives Back" Retail Marketing Program

Over the past 2 years, I've been busy testing several new retail marketing programs, hoping to find the "holy grail" within a sea of clutter, noise and reduced mass-media effectiveness.

One program that I've tested and implemented was a "Gives Back" cause marketing program that allows my customers to donate to their favorite church, charity, school, or any local or national non-profit organization of their choice, every time they shop at one of my stores.

In late 2007, in my new role as Vice-President of Marketing at S&K Menswear, my primary mission was to drive traffic to our stores and our e-commerce website, acquire new customers and improve our average sale. I needed to break away from the traditional mode of running monthly sale events, that were supported by very expensive TV advertising. This model was no longer working and needed to be changed fast.

The S&K Gives Back program was launched in partnership with Romeo Advertising in August, 2008. First, we developed a special Gives Back website that functioned as the source for enrollment and tracking, customer service assistance, program news and promotional materials. Next, we kicked-off the program at our corporate sales conference, and the feedback from our managers was extremely encouraging. They loved the fact that they now had a tactical marketing tool that they could use to engage each and every customer, and feel great about delivering the message.

The message to our customers was clear and simple; enroll your favorite non-profit, then enroll yourself and enourage as many members as possible to enroll, and every time they shop at S&K, they earn 5% cash for their organization. No member cards, coupons, special codes required.

After 9 months, we had 5,000 organizations enrolled in the program and the program was generating 2.5% of our total sales volume for the company. In addition, the average transaction was 25% higher than the company average, and approximately 50% of these shoppers were new customers.

We had University alumni groups, large church congregations, national charities, local charities, high schools and a host of other groups that participated in the program. We also held special shopping nights for several local groups, which resulted in additional store traffic. Earlier this year, we ended up hosting over 150 local events over a 2 week period.

The real value here is in its organic, grass-roots nature; where word-of-mouth referrals is the driving force behind our success, and we were only paying for sales as they were realized, without expensive, up-front mass media campaigns. We had churches posting messages in their bulletins, universities using their websites and charities distributing emails on behalf of the program.

I especially enjoyed reading the letters and emails from pastors, schools and charities thanking S&K for helping them raise much needed funds. That's what I call a real win-win-win for the retailer, customer and local non-profit groups.

Bryan Kipp is President of CMO Retail Solutions, LLC. He is focused on providing interim-CMO services and ROI-centric marketing programs to retail clients. Visit

1 comment:

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