“Dealers are the go-to people in our communities,” said Roy Bavaro, Director, Corporate Marketing and Brand Development for DCH Auto Group, in his joint NADA 2013 presentation with Braindtailers’ Cheril Hendry.  Bavaro credited dealerships for being active philanthropists, but cautioned them that writing checks isn’t the same thing as having a true cause marketing program that benefits a dealership’s bottom line.

“You’re not doing cause marketing unless you have a full-blown program,” Bavaro said, stressing that an ROI-driven program wasn’t just writing checks to different non-profits, it was investing in a partnership in which both the for-profit company (the dealership) and the non-profit organization make financial returns.

Hendry shared the story of New Balance, the sporting apparel company, who partnered with the Pink Ribbon Shop to increase awareness of its products while benefiting causes benefiting breast cancer awareness and prevention.  According to Henry, the “pink ribbon” version of one of the shoe models in New Balance’s lineup has seen triple the sales and 5x the ROI compared with the same model without Pink Ribbon licensing.

But the return doesn’t happen overnight.

“Cause marketing isn’t advertising.  It’s not a monthly promotion,” Bavaro stated.  “It’s an increase in awareness and an increase in the perception of who you are… This is ‘don’t tell me something, show me something.'”  Once a dealership accomplishes this, Bavaro shared, shoppers are much more interested in doing with a dealership that stands for something, not just the one with the lowest price.

Among the many tips shared in their session, Bavaro and Hendry urged dealers to plan a sustainable strategy for cause marketing with the following questions in mind:

  • What are you trying to accomplish?
  • Who are you trying to reach?
  • What is the unique value proposition of your partnership with this nonprofit?
  • What are the best ways to reach and influence your mutual target audience?
  • What do you need to spend/raise to achieve both partners’ goals for this program?
  • What are the expected business impacts of your cause marketing programs and how will you measure the actual performance results?

Bavaro and Hendry will hold their workshop again tomorrow, Feb. 11, at 8:30 a.m. in W 202.

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Building stronger relationships through community philanthropy