5 Proven Ways to Clinch a Cause Marketing Partnership

Finding a Great Business Partner Is a Start - Closing the Deal Makes It Real

Pitching a prospective partner for cause marketing campaign.
Thomas Barwick/Stone/Getty Images

Congratulations, you've persuaded a decision maker to meet to discuss a cause marketing partnership with your nonprofit.

It's no small feat. It's nearly impossible to close a cause marketing pact if you're not sitting across from a decision maker. You've taken a critical step in the right direction.

But the questions you're asking are good ones: "What do I do now? How do I turn this meeting into a partnership?"

Here are five strategies that have always worked for me.

1. Know who you're talking to. 

In my experience, there are three types of decision makers: thinkers, feelers, and deferrers.

Thinkers value facts and figures and are data driven. A lot of marketing directors are thinkers because they have to be shown return-on-investment.

Feelers are driven by their emotions. They don't want to see charts and graphs, they want to hear the stories, and see those people your nonprofit helps.

Deferrers are moved by the opinions and the actions of others. They seek out the approval of those they know and admire.

While no one is all one type of decision maker, one style usually dominates. Determine what type you're dealing and with and you'll have a plan for a powerful attack.

2. Free is for me. 

I'm a big believer in giving away anything that isn't critical to the cause marketing deal and is more of an obstacle to closing the pact.

It's a common strategy that's uncommonly used in cause marketing.

Focus on where the money can be raised (from consumers) and not in passing minimal expenses back to your business partner. Fortunately, most cause marketing programs aren't expensive to produce.

One of the most popular types of programs, pinups, usually cost just a few pennies each to produce.

But insisting that a partner either pay or split these expenses is just another obstacle to yes and the riches that await by tapping the customers you'll get access to.

3. Don't give them an excuse to say no. 

Start by accepting two things that at first glance seem counterintuitive.

First, give away the program to the business.

Second, accept the fact that you'll do most of the work.

The only thing a business partner should do is what you can't do: execute the program in his or her business. 

Like giving away your programs for free, being the workhorse (e.g. designing, printing and shipping pinups or sourcing and ordering coin canisters) means the business can focus on raising money for your organization.

4. Increase the number of touch points. 

No one thing drives a decision. It's usually a bunch of stuff that persuades us to take a course of action.

A strong pitch from you is a good start, but get the business to tour your nonprofit. Or ask existing partners to share their successes with them by phone, meeting or email. 

The closer your business partner feels to your mission, and the more positive feedback they get from others about working with you, the more likely they are to become a partner rather than a prospect.

5. Be flexible and helpful. 

Just as decision makers say yes to a program for more than one reason, it will probably take more than one meeting to close the sale.

Avoid a flat-out NO as, psychologically, this is difficult to overcome. A business owner explained the power of NO to me early on in my career: "What part of NO don't you understand?".

The second best answer after a yes is a maybe. Then you can get to work on turning that maybe into a yes.

Collaborate with the business in any way possible, even if it's small. Focus on building rapport and goodwill. Keep them informed of other programs you're working on and share posts, articles, videos or presentations that relate to their business.

The best way to make a prospective partner a valued partner is to treat them like they already are your partner.