Causes matter to people, and to young consumers and shoppers in particular. “Causes” can be defined as non-profit organizations, or charitable foundations, or even families who have gone through a trauma and need help. Virtually every national or international non-profit has local affiliates, and there are most likely non–profits that are local to your neighborhood or community, too.
One idea I advocate for local businesses is to truly be part of your community and that includes giving back. Yes, you need an online community, but you can also benefit from that “real life” community in your neighborhood, too. Recent marketing research shows that young people, in particular, are influenced by cause marketing and are motivated by more than money in their careers (Source: Marketingprofs). They want to give back and desire to associate with companies that do so. If you own a locally-owned business and want to attract talent to work for you, and / or want to attract younger people to buy from you, aligning yourself with a specific local cause, or a diverse group of them might benefit you.
In April, for example, sustainability may be a “cause” that you can support in some fashion in your community. Earth Day falls in April and it is associated with “green” and the environment. You can most likely find “green” charitable organizations in your local community that would love to work with you.
Case study: The Chicago restaurant I work with, Gale Street Inn, is now a drop-off for cell phone recycling. People who are regular customers can easily drop off their old phones now, and it may attract others who want to drop off old phones and have never eaten there before. The owner, George Karzas, is shown below and this image was posted on the restaurant’s Facebook page, too. The restaurant has been a 10-year partner of a sustainability organization called the Gateway Green in Chicago, and the restaurant also hosted a fundraiser for the Gateway Green as another way of giving back.
Do you own a business that delivers to customers, such as an office products reseller or printing company? If so, does your delivery truck come back empty? Perhaps you can offer a recycling or shredding service that will make good use of your vehicles, help your customers, and also help the environment.
There are many ways to align your business with other companies in your neighborhood, to align with causes that matter to your customers, and to further integrate your business into the fabric of your customers’ lives. Give it a try and find out for yourself.