If you’re like a lot of other business owners, your marketing plan is flying by the seat of your pants, and you’re just now thinking of how your do something to give back to the community this holiday season (and get some exposure for it). That’s OK. You’re in the same boat as 70% of small business owners who don’t have a marketing plan.
Whether you’re trying to quickly come up with a “community” promotion for this holiday season or planning for the next year, you’re on the right track. Every business should have an affinity programs in its promotional plan.
What is “Affinity Marketing”? Affinity marketing is creating a social bond between your brand and a group. A group can be a charity, another organization with similar goals, or a group of fans and loyal customers.
Sounds great right? Basically, when was the last time you gave back to a group or your customers? When did you make it worth their while to do business with you or refer business to you? Here are the common types of affinity programs we review with our clients:
- Reward Program – allowing your customers to earn points towards something free
- Appreciation Program – giving your best customers a “Just Because” present as a Thanks
- Partnership Program – finding a group or another organization with similar goals and audience and offering special deals
- Rebates Program – provide a rebate if purchases reach a certain level or extend rebates to loyal customers or partnerships
- Support a Cause/Charity – provide a piece of each sale to a charity of your choice. Pick something that your client-base would like you to support.
The end of the year is a great time to schedule an affinity program in your marketing plan. If you’re looking to support a cause or charity, then timing your program for the time of year where they make their big push makes a huge difference. For example, if you’re going to donate a portion of your proceeds to breast cancer research, then do it in October during Breast Cancer Awareness month. You’ll be capitalizing on existing publicity.
How do you get the word out?
This is when its helpful to have a customer communication system in place. Using an inbound marketing system of social media (like Facebook), on-site blogging, and email marketing can make sure that you raise awareness among the most important group first – your already loyal clients. In order to raise awareness to your secondary group, potential clients and fans, you can leverage traditional public relations techniques. Write a press release and send it to your local news, post the PR to your website and share the link online with bloggers.
With a little bit of planning, you can make the most of affinity marketing during the holidays.
I’m a mom, a small business owner, and I’m a marketing professional with over a decade helping businesses with their branding and online presence. When I’m not spending time with my family or on my business, I love cooking (and eating) and snuggling with my dogs while I binge on TV shows. My favorite authors are Malcolm Gladwell and Steve Martin. My favorite movies are L.A. Story, Little Mermaid, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and Trainspotting.