Great America: Déjà vu, all over again

June 18, 2014

Snoopy, Bruce and Charlie Brown
(Snoopy, Bruce and Charlie Brown)

Yogi Berra had it right: It’s like déjà vu all over again.

Today I stood center-stage at the Great American Theater, the largest live performance auditorium at California’s Great America in Santa Clara. The occasion was the annual convention of ACE, the American Coaster Enthusiasts, those wild and daring people who travel the country experiencing every form of twist and turn, soaring heights to plunging depths, of the country’s most challenging roller coasters. Timid is not a word heard in these surroundings.

I had been invited as their special guest, because on March 20, 1976 as Public Affairs Manager of what was then called Marriott’s Great America, I had the wonderful and rather daunting (at age 25) responsibility of designing the opening promotion of Great America, the largest project at that time in the history of Marriott Corporation.

Facing the crowd of 350 coaster enthusiasts, I drifted easily back to those earliest years of my career, and especially to a particular time when I stood at that exact spot. It was 1976 and I had invited Clint Eastwood and Merv Griffin to visit Great America. I wanted them to experience the simply outstanding live entertainment performances that at the time were seen as the standout feature of the theme park. The show that was playing that first year was Music America, a high energy musical romp through 45 Americana songs. Performed by an extremely talented cast of 25 high school and college-aged men and women, supported by a 17-piece orchestra made up of similar ages, this extravaganza climaxed with an audience standing ovation at all performances.

At the close of that particular show as the audience filed towards the exit doors, I escorted Clint and Merv onto the stage. We lifted a portion of the huge red velvet curtain and we proceeded under to greet the performers. Emerging on the other side these two internationally-known stars brought the stretching and exhausted cast to a startled halt. After exchanging pleasantries and a quite a few OMG remarks, Merv Griffin offered them the ultimate compliment. He said, “There is nothing on Broadway that is anywhere near as entertaining as what we just witnessed.” These words made everyone’s day, probably year.

As I emerged from the theater this afternoon, I walked slowly, dreamily, through a very changed Great America. Gone were the strolling marching bands, steam driven train with its haunting whistle, gone were Bugs Bunny and the other Warner Brothers characters, replaced by Snoopy, Charlie Brown and friends. What once was a broad offering of live entertainment constantly erupting from all directions has now morphed into a primarily ride-focused amusement park. Still very nice, but for me, not as nice.

As I left in the late afternoon I noticed a sandwich board near the front entrance. It said that on a day coming up California’s Great America would be donating a portion of that day’s proceeds to the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. I flashed-back to 1976 when I had developed a partnership between Marriott’s Great America and the March of Dimes to help promote the opening of our new theme park, while raising much-needed funds to fight children’s birth defects. That partnership raised $2.5 million (a lot of money in 1976), a whopping 40% more than had ever been raised in the Western Region of the March of Dimes. That partnership is considered the first cause marketing program in history, and as the designer, I have been called the “father of cause marketing” by the Cause Marketing Forum.

For me, today was full of intense emotion, revisited experiences, and once again, enjoying the exploding laughter of a family getting soaked together on the water ride. As I drove away, I remembered the line I wrote for our highway billboard on the opening day 38 years ago: Super Smiles and Summer Fun, Welcome World, We’ve Just Begun.

Déjà vu, all over again, again.

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Stakeholders: Take advantage of your full team to generate partnership success

May 29, 2014

Part 17 in the Win-Win for the Greater Good series

Wikipedia defines a stakeholder as: “Any person, group, organization, or system who affects or can be affected by an organization’s actions.” Look around at all the people who are involved in your organization, both internally and externally: your employees, your customers, your shareholders, your vendors, your community, your business partners, government regulators, the media – these are your stakeholders and these are the people who really matter. These are the people you must protect, serve and value the most. When you focus your efforts on bringing value to all your stakeholders, you create the greatest beneficial impact for your organization. The converse is also true – if your stakeholders are not engaged, not valued, they have the potential to have a negative, and sometimes significant, impact on your organization.

Here is a diagram that illustrates the many stakeholders of a typical for-profit organization.

Stakeholders

The stakeholders for a nonprofit organization are very similar. Your shareholders are your donors, your customers are the people you serve, your business partners are your volunteers, etc.

As you see, there is an interrelationship, indeed interdependency, where all stakeholders are involved in a give-and-take relationship with the organization of which they are stakeholders. At first glance, it would seem that the relationships are primarily between the organization and the outer circle of their stakeholders. However, as this diagram reflects, the stakeholders themselves can have separate relationships between themselves, and thus impact and influence the entire organizational ecosystem.

When an employee believes that their organization has a particularly strong commitment to being a good citizen in their community, they will loudly and confidently communicate this belief. Consequently, the stakeholder and communication/effect cycle is potentially more interrelated. The ramifications can be significant, as any positive or negative influence a stakeholder has on other stakeholders can have a corresponding positive or negative influence on the organization itself.

The very good news is that when an organization is focused on the success of all stakeholders, all stakeholders are focused on the success of the organization. And when an organization is focused on not only benefiting all stakeholders, but additionally in serving the greater good through a well-designed and well-executed cross-sector partnership, your organization will begin to glow.

Your stakeholders will provide an honest critique because they have a vested interest in the success of your organization. They will provide creative input, business contacts, perhaps funding, and a myriad of other assets that will serve your cross-sector partnership endeavors and your organization well.

Please visit http://www.bruceburtch.com for more information about cross-sector partnerships and Win-Win for the Greater Good.


Are you prepared for partnership success? Here’s how to find out.

May 22, 2014

Part 16 from the Win-Win for the Greater Good series

Revised magnifying glass

Know Thyself!

Before you start your partner exploration process, you need to analyze carefully your reasons for wanting a partnership, assess your abilities and assets, and especially your commitment to deliver your end of the bargain. A clear understanding and preparedness when entering into a cross-sector partnership comes only after a comprehensive internal assessment confirming that you’re ready, willing and able to be a productive partner. In other words: you must first know yourself before you can reach out to others.

Who are you? Most organizations think they have a pretty good idea of who they are. They may have vision statements, mission statements, standard operating procedures, annual reports and/or press releases that tout their latest products, services, partners, achievements, etc. However, without analyzing your corporate culture, and especially how you’re seen by the public, you may not know who you really are.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos described your organization’s brand as “What people say about you when you’re not in the room.” Your brand, which is a fancy way of saying your reputation, is not who or what you think you are but how you are viewed by all who come in contact with your organization.

Taking the time to develop a clear understanding of what your organization really stands for and how it is viewed by the public is not only the necessary foundation for a successful cross-sector partnership, but for the success of your business in general.

Before you begin the Assessment Process, I strongly recommended that this process be led by your senior management, preferably your CEO or Executive Director. S/he must be involved in this cross-sector partnership conversation and Assessment Process, at least in the beginning stages, as this individual sets the overall tone, direction and strategy of your organization. I suggest that your Assessment Process team include several people from the list below, though a smaller organization may not have or need this deep a team.

• CEO/Executive Director
• Chief Marketing Officer and/or highest member of your sales or marketing team
• Director of Community Affairs and/or Public Relations Director
• Top representatives from your outside creative agencies (PR/advertising/marketing)
• Director of Human Resources
• A member of your Board of Directors, especially one whose business is marketing or creative services
• At least one well-respected employee
• At least one volunteer, if applicable
• A recorder: Someone to take detailed notes and serve as the communications link for all on this assessment team

The entire Assessment Process should take no more than two or three meetings, especially if notes are provided and next steps are determined as assignments for each member of the team to prepare for the next meeting. The length of this process depends greatly on the commitment of the team, leadership involvement, and how much work may have already been done by your organization.

In the course of this Assessment Process, problematic issues may arise – be sure to address them immediately. Such issues rarely go away and can be very embarrassing and a waste of time and money if not handled early and well. The key to this critical exercise is to ascertain if your company has the motivation, ability, personnel, budget and leadership to undertake a long-term partnership, with all of its inherent bumps and challenges…and rewards.

Step 1: What Do You Want to Do?
Step 2: Assess Your Company and Brand Perception
Step 3: Is Your Organization Ready for a Cross-Sector Partnership or Cause Marketing Campaign?
Step 4: What Do You Bring to a Partnership?
Step 5: Defining Your Partnership Team

Note: An electronic copy of the complete Assessment Process can be found at the Resource Center at http://www.bruceburtch.com.

Please visit http://www.bruceburtch.com for more information about cross-sector partnerships and Win-Win for the Greater Good.


Your twelve-step program to partnership success

May 14, 2014

PART 15 from the Win-Win for the Greater Good series

Now you’re ready. You understand the importance of embedding a cause consciousness within your organization. You know how cross-sector partnerships and cause marketing will grow and benefit your organization. Whether you work for a junior college, a five-person technology startup, the local chapter of Make -A-Wish foundation, a state government agency or a large nonprofit or corporation, you are prepared to begin your journey to a more effective and profitable organization. You might even have a few potential partners in mind or causes that are particularly important to your employees. As when building a house, no matter how ambitious your plans, without a well-designed blueprint, your house may become just a jumble of wood and nails.

I have seen so many mistakes due to misunderstandings between the sectors – rushing ahead before doing the necessary homework, developing programs and campaigns without the proper resources in place, marketing efforts based on the wrong strategy, money wasted and great ideas that failed because of not wanting to deal with the small details. So we are going to drill down into some detail. OK, a lot of detail.

And one last thing before we dive in – you may think that you don’t have the resources, the time, potential partners, or enough relationships in the community or with media to pull this partnership business off. Here I will show you that you can be highly successful if you follow the path and Cross-Sector Partnership Development Process presented here. So step onto the path and start your amazing journey now.

small path 2

Please visit http://www.bruceburtch.com for more information and to learn more about Win-Win for the Greater Good.


Two prestigious national publications just published Do Well by Doing Good

April 22, 2014

Great News!! Both the National Association of Women Business Owners and Bizwomen, the national online magazine of the national Business Journals published my article, Do Well by Doing Good.

Check it out:  http://www.bizjournals.com/bizwomen/channels/partners/2014/04/embedding-cause-consciousness-into-your-business.html

Please pass this along to your friends and colleagues.

Together in partnership,

Bruce


What to Avoid When Developing a Cause Marketing Campaign

April 10, 2014

Part 14 from the Win-Win for the Greater Good series

Even with the best intentions, sometimes among major players who should know better, cause marketing can go terribly wrong. The mantra of cause marketing, indeed of all cross-sector partnerships, is that the partners need to be well aligned. Their missions, their products or services and how they present their campaign to the public must make sense as a partnership. The public becomes skeptical when they smell or taste that the campaign is purely done to make money. Here are some bloopers.

Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) Pothole Program
Recognizing the ubiquitous problem that many of our roads and highways have fallen into disrepair, KFC thought that it would be a good idea if they teamed up with several cities around the country and filled in those cities’ potholes. So the public would know who was making this generous donation, KFC painted their bright white logo on top of the freshly laid asphalt. As you see in this promotional photograph, “The Colonel” is pointing his cane at a recently paved, logo-covered pothole.

KFC Colonel

So we see potholes filled with oily black tar, covered with a KFC logo, which will be run over by cars, slowly but surely erasing the logo. This message has the unintended effect of linking KFC and its heavily-oiled, deep-fried chicken with steaming oily black tar and inadvertently, brings a whole new meaning to “road kill.”

I hate to pick on KFC, but if the bucket fits. After the above-described campaign, they developed a partnership with Susan G. Komen for the Cure and produced a second highly-questionable campaign where they really stuck their wing in it.

KFC Buckets
“Buckets for the Cure” Campaign

KFC and Susan G. Komen for the Cure launched a campaign in which they printed pink KFC buckets with the breast cancer ribbon and then handed their customers the bucket full of fried chicken wings, legs and breasts. $.50 of the sale of each bucket went to the charity. What were they thinking? A respected nonprofit organization dedicated to education and research about breast cancer promoting deep-fried food, in pink buckets.

Yoni Freedhoff of Weighty Matters said: “So, in effect, Susan G. Komen for the Cure is helping to sell deep-fried fast food and, in so doing, help fuel unhealthy diet and obesity across America, an odd plan given that diet and obesity certainly impact on both the incidence and recurrence of breast cancer.”

What was this campaign really all about? Yes, money. KFC donated more than $4.2 Million to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the largest single donation in organization’s history. Roger Eaton, President of KFC Corporation said, “This was a campaign that allowed our customers to fill up their stomachs and their hearts at the same time.” Needless to say, this campaign caused a media and consumer controversy which, if only briefly, damaged the credibility of Susan G. Komen… but it made lots of money.

The investor extraordinaire, Warren Buffett, once said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” There is nothing worth the risk of destroying a hard-earned reputation.

The key points I would suggest you take away from this discussion on what not to do in cause marketing:
• Do absolutely nothing that will hurt your brand. Good reputations are hard to gain and much harder to regain if lost.
• Never be just about the money; greed is ugly and hard to hide.
• Always put the cause first, which will gain attention, loyalty and finally, financial success.
• Be unique! Stand out from the crowd! Don’t be a chicken! (sorry)

Wrapping Up
Cause marketing comes in all shapes and sizes and can be an exceptionally effective fund development and brand awareness-generating program because it:
• Leverages the marketing clout, assets, intelligence and connections of organizations from different sectors
• Focuses on doing good, and the public responds very well to organizations doing good
• Motivates your employees, customers and all stakeholders of your organization
• Attracts media attention…for free!
• Generates sales and raises donations
• Delivers what one organization can’t possibly do alone

Please visit http://www.bruceburtch.com for more information and to view Win-Win for the Greater Good.


How to make Cause Marketing work for your organization

April 2, 2014

Part 13 from the Win-Win for the Greater Good series

6. Cause marketing Definition

Cause marketing is a specialized subset of cross-sector partnerships, and like all cross-sector partnerships, cause marketing is a partnership between two or more sectors. Though in cause marketing, the partnership is primarily between nonprofit and for-profit organizations and is primarily about marketing, sales, fund development and increasing brand awareness. Cause marketing has grown by leaps and bounds, and in 2013 an estimated $1.78 billion was spent in North America alone on cause marketing campaigns.

Cause marketing is a marketing campaign with specific strategic goals and objectives. It is not an event, sponsorship or one-time project and certainly not philanthropy. You will find as we explore further into this area that a well-strategized and well-developed cause marketing campaign will bring you many of the benefits we have discussed in cross-sector partnerships.

While there are many definitions of cause marketing, the following is how I prefer to define it:
Cause marketing is a partnership between two or more nonprofit and for-profit organizations whereby each party receives benefit toward their individual marketing objectives, while striving through their combined resources to create a greater good.

Let’s break this definition down to see why this particular description is a bit more comprehensive, and possibly more demanding among others available, yet touches upon the foundational elements of highly successful cause marketing campaigns.

Partnership: Going into the partnership, both sides should come together as equals. This equality is necessary for a fair, trusting and successful working partnership. Without this trust, without this focus on true partnership, your campaign is dead in the water before it’s launched.

Two or more: In most cases, a cause marketing partnership is between two partners, but as we have seen, sometimes partnerships can have three and even four sectors involved. And sometimes, even multiple partners within sectors. Bringing multiple partners together can leverage the success of the marketing objectives. So don’t limit your partner opportunity thinking. More may be better, or maybe not, based on your marketing strategy and campaign needs.

Individual marketing objectives: All sides may be approaching this partnership with very different marketing objectives and internal agendas. This is to be expected. Having clear communication and understanding about these separate agendas and objectives and then working toward the benefit of all partners will greatly enhance the overall success of your cause marketing campaign.

Combined resources: Possibly more than in any other marketing or promotional endeavor, the successful execution of your cause marketing strategy and resulting campaign creates a whole far greater than the sum of its individual parts. You just can’t possibly accomplish alone what you can do working together for your mutual success.

Create a greater good: This is the part of my definition that seems to be left out in every other definition I’ve ever seen. However it is this focus on the greater good that sets the foundation for your successful campaign. Focusing on the greater good is the key ingredient that will motivate all partners and stakeholders involved in your campaign. The greatest impact, the real magic, comes when your campaign focuses on the people, issues or environment that will benefit from the campaign:
• Those whose lives will be saved because they are now prepared for an emergency
• The women and men in the future who will not get breast cancer because of the research you are helping to fund
• The homeless who will be given shelter
• The children who will be saved from starvation
• Addressing serious environmental situations

This is the greater good. You can address any nonprofit’s cause, but to be optimally successful, you must focus on who or what will benefit from your effort. Nonprofits as such are not causes in and of themselves, but facilitators that bring much-needed services and support to the cause, which of course, is the people, environment or social issues themselves…the greater good.

Please visit http://www.bruceburtch.com for more information and to view Win-Win for the Greater Good