How is your business making a difference? Your customers want to know!

By: Mike Gorun

Dealerships are well known for their involvement and participation with local communities and many different charities. From sponsoring little league teams to larger charity initiatives, dealerships have supported and given back to the communities they serve for a very long time.

Cause-based efforts have become increasingly important to consumers, especially to the younger consumers now joining the spending force. For example, General Mills’ “Box Tops for Education” initiative. Founded in 1996, the brand has raised over $719 million nationwide. Of course, the schools themselves aren’t out buying all of these products, the consumers are.

While it is certainly distasteful to always “toot your horn” about how great and charitable your dealership is, there is a right way to do it. Consumers DO want to know what you are doing to give back, it is important to them. Just how important is cause-based marketing to consumers? Let’s look at some statistics from CauseGood,

  1. When choosing between two brands of equal quality and price, 90 percent of U.S. shoppers are likely to switch to a cause branded product.
  2. 97 percent of marketing executives believe cause-based marketing is a valid business strategy.
  3. When quality and price is equivalent, social purpose is the number one deciding factor for shoppers globally.
  4. 42 percent of North American shoppers would pay extra for products and services from companies committed to positive social and environmental impact.
  5. 64 percent of shoppers say simply giving money away isn’t enough; they want businesses to integrate social impact into their business models.
  6. 88 percent of Americans want to hear about businesses’ social responsibility and the most preferred place to hear about these efforts is on the product’s packaging or label.

Feel free to browse all of the statistics. The fact is that our younger generations increasingly seek to do business with companies that support causes. Of course, it’s difficult for companies to market those efforts. In fact, 70 percent of Americans find companies’ communications about their social responsibility efforts confusing.

So how are you supposed to communicate your charitable and community support efforts to your customers?

Whatever cause your choose, be it perhaps supporting and pledging to donate a percentage of sales and/or service revenue to a valued cause, it is not enough to just simply do it. As stated on the statistics from CauseGood, 88 percent of consumers want to hear about these efforts.

Integrate your charitable cause message into all your marketing efforts including in-store signage and in the service drive. It should be tastefully done and the point is to make it widely known that your dealership supports the cause.

In the end, once it becomes common knowledge within your community, and consumers learn about it through all of your marketing channels, they may well start choosing you over your competition. All while you are make a difference in your community. And that’s a great way to differentiate your dealership from the competition and earn customer loyalty.

Bio: Mike has a variety of professional automotive and business development credentials having of 18 years of operational management experience on the OEM side with Ford, Nissan and General Motors. As a true Internet pioneer, Mike combined his knowledge of wholesale and retail dealership operations with emerging internet technologies and created CarSmart.com in 1994. Later acquired by a publicly traded corporation it was the largest automotive internet acquisition at that point in time. Mike is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin with degrees in Industrial Education and Process Engineering. 

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