The Importance of Proximity in Cause Marketing Relationships

AutoZone, the car parts dealer with more than 4500 stores across the United States is headquartered in Memphis Tennessee. So too is St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Not surprisingly AutoZone is a cause marketing supporter of St. Jude. Fedex, another Memphis-based company sponsors the St. Jude Classic, a PGA Tour event held each year at the TPC Southwind golf course, also in Memphis.

It isn’t always the case that cause marketing tie-ins take place between companies and causes in the same area code. For instance, another of St Jude’s sponsors is Target, headquartered 700 miles upriver in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

But if you’re a cause looking to start a cause marketing relationship a logical place to look for cause marketing sponsors is in your own backyard.

Here’s five reasons why:
  • The prospect is more likely to take your call. Locality improves the chance that the sponsor will respond.
  • You probably already know someone there or can more easily make a connection than if the prospect is some distance away.
  • The people at your prospect sponsor are more likely to understand and care about your cause. A local museum probably doesn’t have to explain what sets them apart to a company in the same city. AutoZone probably has staff and executives whose kids have been treated at St. Jude.
  • The development cycle is faster. You could pass an idea by a would-be sponsor over coffee at Starbucks. If they’re lukewarm, you can be back at your desk later that morning working on the next iteration.
  • A yes is easier because there's less friction. Proximity leads to trust. In the case above, when you buy a Polar Bottle with a picture of your pet imprinted on the bottle, the company made a $5 donation to the local Humane Society chapter. The promotion ended just before Christmas. Who can doubt that the promotion was enabled in part by the fact that Polar Bottle is less than a mile away from the Human Society of Boulder Valley?
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