Give, give … and then give some more.

Over the last couple of months, I’ve had a pretty negative tone to my ramblings. “The status quo in the print industry won’t work and if you don’t change then your company is dead.” And I’ve had comments – positive and negative, both here and personally. It’s either it’s blasphemy not to wave the flag or … “yea, that’s the game – it’s all about the internet.”

Well … I’m done with the negativity. Now it’s all about solutions. Print is going to stay. The question is:  What is it going to take for your firm to be one of those that makes the cut? I’m going try to throw out some ideas over the next couple of weeks … here’s the first one.

Hire a CGO … a Chief Giving Officer. Their job is to figure out and nurture ways your company can give. And not talking about “giving back.” I’m talking about giving – regardless if you’ve received.

I saw this banner on a gas station in West LA yesterday:  “We give 20% of all our proceeds on Tuesdays to the Simon Wiesenthall Center for Tolerance.”  I’m not Jewish and I don’t care if they don’t have the best gas prices in town … but I’m still going there. They’re giving, they’re trying to be part of the solution – and I want to patronize a firm with that attitude.

People do business with people and companies they like and respect. The little bit I’ll save getting the best deal pales in comparison to helping someone who’s out there for the greater good. And I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way. All your capabilities and “stuff” is not “the be all and end all.” Make your firm one that if … you don’t do business with then “I’ll feel guilty.” There’s always “work arounds” on capabilities.

Giving, corporate speaking, can be in two different forms:

1. Give to existing causes – like my example above. This is nice, but an easy out. Unless your clients and target market identifies with the cause … it probably won’t resonate, except for its symbolic value.

2. Create your own causes. This is where the CGO comes in. Remember most of your business is local. Local in the sense that your customers share the same “away from work” issues that you do. It’s their community too. Imagine if your firm is seen as a major player in helping make your neighborhood better. Don’t just give to the Salvation Army, for example. Organize “groundcrews” where you can solve local problems – groundcrews that are led by your employees and your clients.

Given the chance, you will be amazed at what happens. Buyers, who you have to go down a gauntlet to see, will be standing hand in hand with you – helping the homeless, working in a mentoring program (that you built) … or even cleaning a public neighborhood park and fixing its playground.

This isn’t about selling printing, and it’s not about any of the other services I’ve advocated over the last couple months. It’s about getting to core of human motivation and what makes us tick.

I have to believe we all, or at least most of us, want what’s good for all us. Call me an idealist. If you truly believe this – then why not demonstrate it in your company? Make giving such an integral part of your culture that without it, your company … well, it isn’t your company. Make it what your firm is all about.

Now this perspective may sound crazy. Well maybe it is. It’s not like Groupon where group buying and half off is all the rage. It’s not about advertising on Facebook, or tweeting till your figures bleed.

What it’s about … is being a person, being a company that people feel proud to do business with. And worst case … you’ll sure feel better about yourself.

Please throw in your 2 cents worth – yea or nea. Share your ideas on giving and making it a marketing priority and a business strategy.

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~ by Clay Forsberg on February 2, 2011.

4 Responses to “Give, give … and then give some more.”

  1. Love this. While I am a bit cynical and would say, “You’ve been duped – that sign was a sales tactic” – you’re right. Who cares? They’re giving – that’s all that matters. I think what you’re talking about here is a great PR move for all businesses that want to be recognized. Well said. I like the concept of the CGO.

  2. I’m with you Clay, and agree with Vickie Elmer.

    The Non-Profit print market has always been huge.
    It was one of the first segments targeted when Indigo rolled out the first variable digital presses.
    Being able to customize your message, to speak directly to your best customer, The Donor, is huge.

    Smart 1:1 marketing does this all day, every day.

    We’re you really in West LA yesterday?

  3. I agree wholeheartedly. When we named our company Mity Nice a couple of years ago, we knew we had to be kind and generous. So focused on two things: Creating teen jobs and giving support to nonprofits in the anti-hunger and youth and education areas. We also partner with other small local food companies. We are still evolving our business model but we feel a strong loyalty from our customers and the community because of our giving.

  4. Yea all the way! I feel instead of spending $10K a month on old media, it can go a lot further if a company bought more of it’s own product and strategically gave it away to it’s target market via social media and offline guerrilla marketing.

    We’re moving into an age of collaboration and moving out of extreme competition slowly but surely. It’s time to put a heart in the “corporation.” Ifeel social entrepreneurship will be the medium to do this.

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