Affinity Marketing: Buy to Give
? It doesn't matter what products/services are involved in an affinity-marketing program, nor does it matter which vendor is selected. The selection of an affinity-marketing partner should hinge on the universal appeal, quality and cost competitiveness of its products/services. Beyond that, the company's shared values, customer-service support and track record in affinity-marketing partnerships with other nonprofits should be carefully considered.
In order to gain strong results from affinity-marketing programs, nonprofits should adhere to proven practices in the areas of program management and monitoring, partner selection, marketing, and ?communications.
Start by designating an individual within your organization to serve as the affinity-marketing program coordinator. This individual should be charged with initiating the search for the right affinity-marketing ?partner, maintaining ongoing communication with that partner, ?making sure the program is being promoted effectively, and tracking the results of the program and sharing these findings with the nonprofit's management.
When selecting the affinity-marketing partner, make sure its products/services fall in the "everyday, commonly used" category (e.g., long-distance and wireless phone service, Internet service, credit cards, insurance, etc.). Inquire about how often new products, upgrades and/or special promotions are offered, and how the company's products are priced compared to competitive products/services. In addition to being brand-name products/services offering valued performance features, the products/services should be backed by strong warranties and sound customer-service policies.
In assessing the company's customer service, pay special attention to its call-center operation. Is it equipped with state-of-the-art voice and computer technology to facilitate customer ordering and tracking procedures? Does the company have a training program to assure that its customer-service representatives are knowledgeable regarding its products/services, courteous and well-spoken? Does the company have reporting procedures (e.g., reports providing a breakdown of monthly or quarterly sales within various product/service lines) in place to help a nonprofit track the incoming revenues from the program?