15 Cause Marketing Ideas to Supercharge Your Referral Marketing Efforts


It’s no secret that gaining new customers by way of referral is one of the most cost-effective ways to grow a business. Not only is it cheaper to acquire new customers this way than through advertising or other methods, but referred customers also tend to be a better fit for your style of doing business. However, beyond simply asking their customers for referrals or offering financial incentives to customers who give referrals, many local businesses are at a loss as to how to get more referrals.

One less utilized but potentially very effective method for getting people to talk about your business and refer new customers to you is cause marketing. Cause marketing is any type of marketing that involves the cooperative efforts of a for-profit business and a non-profit organization for their mutual benefit. More and more local businesses are jumping on the cause marketing bandwagon, and for good reason. Consider the following:

  • 87% of consumers say they would switch from one brand to another if the other brand were associated with a good cause, according to Cone Cause Evolution.
  • 72% of Americans want their employers to do more to support a cause or social issue.
  • A whopping 93% of Americans say that it is important for their employers to give them opportunities to become involved in social issues
  • 95% of college students say they are less likely to ignore an ad that promotes a company’s partnership with a cause

In short, if done correctly cause marketing can be a great way to not only make your customers more loyal to your brand and get more referrals, but also give your employees opportunities for personal growth and development. This will reduce employee turnover and help you attract higher-quality employees, which will allow you to deliver higher-quality service (which of course leads to more referrals).

How to make cause marketing effective

In order for your cause marketing efforts to be the most effective, it’s important that you partner with the right non-profit organization. Here’s a few tips to help you decide what organization to partner with:

  • For local businesses, it’s probably best to partner with a non-profit that is active in supporting the local community, vs one that has an international focus.
  • Avoid politically charged causes or organizations, unless you are ok with alienating 50% of the population.
  • If possible, pick an organization related to your industry, your products, or your services. For example, a lawn care company might decide to partner with their local parks department.
  • Get input from your customers and employees about what organizations they would like to support or already do support.
  • Make it clear to the organization that you are interested in a partnership for your mutual benefit, not simply a one-way deal where they benefit and you don’t get anything in return.

Once you decide which organization to partner with, brainstorm ideas about how you can get both your employees and your customers involved. Simply donating money every moth to a non-profit will certainly benefit the non-profit, but probably won’t do a whole lot to boost your referrals or increase loyalty to your brand. However, with a little bit of creativity, you can really make your cause marketing efforts much more effective. Here are 15 ideas about how local businesses can use cause marketing to grow their business, along with suggestions about what types of businesses might benefit the most from each idea:

  1. Sponsor a Habitat for Humanity build (contractors, tradespeople, real estate professionals)

Get your employees and customers to sign up to volunteer together at a Habitat for Humanity build site for a day. Offer customers who bring a friend with them who is not a customer a coupon or discount on your products or services.


  1. Host or sponsor an event for Big Brothers Big Sisters (restaurants, event venues, movie theaters, entertainment venues)

Invite your local chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters to hold an event at your facility, either for free or for a drastically reduced price. Hand out coupons to those who attend that can be redeemed at a later date.


  1. Volunteer at the Humane Society (veterinarian, dog groomer, kennel, pet store)

Offer your employees paid time off to volunteer at the local Humane Society, where they’ll interact with other volunteers who are not your customers. Offer discounts to people who volunteer as an incentive to become your customers (this strategy could be used with any organization that uses volunteers).


  1. Sponsor a water stop in a running race (fitness clubs, personal trainers, fitness clothing retailers, health food store, outdoor recreation businesses).

Get your employees to volunteer to hand out water to people running the race. Offer discounts to your customers who register for the race and give them stacks of coupons to hand out to other participants.


  1. Support your local Meals on Wheels chapter (restaurants, catering companies, any business with a fleet of vehicles, car dealers, auto repair shops, home health care businesses, doctors, medical or long term care insurance providers).

Incentivize your employees to volunteer to deliver meals, and offer discounts to customers who deliver meals. Give your employees who volunteer branded magnets to put on their personal vehicles while they are delivering meals.


  1. Collect donations for Goodwill (retail shops with high volumes of foot traffic)

Put a collection box for your local Goodwill Store in your location, and offer people who come in to drop off a donation a discount or coupon.


  1. Help support your local Habitat for Humanity ReStore (moving companies, realtors, water and damage restoration contractors, remodeling contractors, home builders)

Help facilitate donations of used furniture and building supplies to your local ReStore, and encourage your employees to volunteer there. Give the ReStore coupons or flyers promoting your services to hand out to people who shop there.


  1. Support a local theater, symphony orchestra, or performing arts venue (CPAs, financial planners, insurance agents, realtors).

Volunteer and encourage your employees to volunteer at the venue in question. Give your best clients tickets to events at the venue as a thank-you.

  1. Support a local medical clinic or health wagon (medical professionals, insurance agents, attorneys, counselors)

Volunteer your time or professional expertise. Match donations made by your clients to the organization in question. Ask the organization to give you free advertising space in their newsletter.


  1. Support your local zoo (veterinarian, pet store, kennel, entertainment venues)

Offer discounts to people who support the zoo via donations or volunteering time. Put a “donate” button on your website that links to the zoo’s website. Encourage your employees and customers to volunteer at the zoo.


  1. Partner with a museum (financial services professionals, attorneys, B2B service companies)

Sponsor events at the museum or volunteer at the museum. Purchase tickets to give to your customers as a thank-you.


  1. Support your local volunteer fire department (restaurants, entertainment venues, golf courses, event venues)

Offer to donate a certain percentage of proceeds from an event at your business to the fire department. Get the fire department to help promote the event to their mailing list.


  1. Volunteer or support your local library (hobby shops, coffee shops, movie theaters, entertainment venues, pediatricians, dentists, health clubs)

Collect books to donate to the library, or offer to sponsor educational events at the library. Sponsor the summer reading program in exchange for the opportunity to advertise on materials promoting the program.


  1. Participate in a clean-up day at a local park (lawn care companies, outdoor recreation retailers, landscaping contractors).

Get your customers and employees to volunteer together to clean up a local park. Offer coupons to anyone who participates in the event or who just happens to come by the park that day.


  1. Be a booster for a local high school sports team or marching band (any business that caters to families with school-age children).

Help financially support a local high school sports team or music program, and show up to volunteer at their events. Be careful with this one, though—high school sports rivalries can get pretty intense, and you may lose some customers who are fans of a rival team.


Hopefully, something on the list above gave you an idea about how you can use cause marketing to grow your business. Perhaps you have already used one of these ideas or something similar and have benefited as a result. If so, please share your experience by leaving a comment below so other readers can be inspired by your example.


About Kevin Jordan

Kevin JordanKevin Jordan is a small business marketing consultant and member of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network. He’s also co-author of the award-winning book The Small Business Owner’s Guide to Local Lead Generation and the host of the top-rated video podcast The Small Business Marketing Minute Show. You can connect with Kevin on Twitter @RMCVirginia.

113 of the Best Lead Generation Tools and Resources


I know, monster list posts are so last year, but I wanted to put together a resource that could be a bit of a guide as you navigate all of the various platforms, networks, and channels available today.

As I’ve written in the past, I currently point to sixteen distinct growth channels and have grouped the tools and resources by channel to make it easier to navigate.

Now, before you go into a click-induced coma, understand that my belief is you should be going as deep as possible in one or two channels and looking towards new channels as a way to amplify where most of your awareness and customers come from today.

If most of your clients are generated by way of referral, then by golly start there, build multiple referral programs and look to use channels such as partnering and content to amplify how you get referrals. Teach referrals to your customers and offer to teach referral generation to their customers in B2B settings.

In each of the channels below I’ve listed some of my favorite tools and then linked to article and resources where you can learn more about the topic in general.

So, don’t think of this post simply as a list, look at it as a table of contents to your education on the subject of Lead Generation and Conversion.

Have fun!

1. Referral Marketing– This includes intentional word of mouth activities, viral tactics as well as intentional referral generation.


  • Ambassador   – Online referral program, starts at $200/mo.
  • Extole  – SaaS platform w/optimized sharing & custom codes.
  • Referral Candy – Easiest way to add refer-a-friend to your store.

Further Reading

2. Public Relations– This includes activities aimed at receiving coverage in traditional media outlets.


  • Prezly – Create your own press room in minutes, with a chosen url and embedding features. Enhance your brand’s identity with color options and logo/photo uploads.
  • TrendKite – Easily measure the impact of news on your brand with custom dashboards.
  • HARO – Help a Reporter Out is a great way to get linked to reporters looking for sources
  • Instant Press Release – Tool that helps you write and format your press release.
  • PRNewswire – Press release distribution service.

Further Reading

3. Online Advertising– This includes the use of pay-per-click platforms, social networks, display ads and retargeting


  • AdEspresso – The easiest online tool to manage and optimize your Facebook Advertising Campaigns.
  • Marin Software – Optimize your Search, Social & Display ads across channels and devices.
  • GoogleAdWords  – Advertising service for businesses wanting to display ads on Google and its advertising network. The AdWords program enables businesses to set a budget for advertising and only pay when people click the ads. The ad service is largely focused on keywords.
  • AdRoll – Retargeting platform, making retargeting simple and profitable for companies and agencies of all sizes.
  • WordStream – Service that manages PPC campaigns, but great info too.

Further Reading

4. Offline Advertising– This includes advertising in offline print and broadcast outlets such as magazine, TV and radio


  • Postcard Mania – Great online tool to create offline direct main campaigns.
  • Vista Print – The leading online printing and promotional products provider.
  • Canva – Easy & free do-it-yourself creation of flyers, business cards, etc.
  • Jelli – Self-service platform specifically designed for broadcast audio advertising; the easiest and fastest way to buy radio ads.

Further Reading

5. Content Marketing– This includes publishing, optimizing and sharing educational content that draws search traffic, links and subscribers


  • BuzzSumo –  Search tool that tracks content on all social networking sites and ranks them based on the number of shares on various social media platforms.
  • Quora –  Identify trends from consistently asked questions to inform your content creation efforts.
  • Buffer –  Use Buffer to schedule your content across Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter for posting at the best times optimized for your account or at the times of your choosing.
  • CoSchedule – Editorial calendar that plugs in to WordPress.
  • DivvyHQ – Full featured editorial calendar for managing all content and content teams.

Further Reading:

6. Sales Playbooks– This includes the creation of specific actions aimed at mining, generating, nurturing and converting leads


  • Nimble – One of the best social selling CRM tools.
  • Pipedrive – Visualize your sales pipeline and keep the line moving.
  • Contactually – Tool that helps you stay in contact with your most important relationships.
  • Kite Desk – Describe your ideal prospect and get leads.
  • AeroLeads – Prospect Generation Service provides you a processed list of prospects with valid email IDs.

Further Reading:

7. Email Marketing– This includes the use of targeted and automated email campaigns based on conversion actions


  • Aweber – Features auto-responders and allows you to broadcast messages, run reports and manage subscribers.
  • MailChimp – Probably the easies and most widely integrated email provider.
  • ConvertKit – Provides InfusionSoft like automation capabilities without the InfusionSoft price.
  • ActiveCampaign – Fully integrated solution for intelligence-driven marketing and sales.
  • Wishpond – Lead generation platform with variety of tools from contest management to drip email campaigns, pop-ups, etc.

Further Reading:

8. Utility Marketing– This includes the creation of useful tools that stimulate traffic, sharing and brand awareness


Further Reading:

9. Influencer Marketing– This includes the practice of building relationships with individuals and outlets that can influence pre-established communities


  • Followerwonk – Tool that allows you to target Twitter followers by topic.
  • BuzzSumo – I use this to find people writing great content that gets shared and who shares it.

Further Reading:

10. Search Engine Optimization– This includes on page and off page optimization activities aimed at generating organic search engine traffic


  • Moz –  Inbound marketing and marketing analytics software subscriptions.
  • SEM Rush – Find profitable key words.
  • SpyFu – Download competitors’ profitable key words.
  • Ahrefs – Combination tool that allows you to work on your own SEO and spy on competitors.
  • Raven Tools – Suite of SEO and online marketing tools.

Further Reading:

11. Partner Marketing– This includes co-marketing activities run in collaboration with strategic marketing partners


  • BNI – World’s leading referral and networking organization.
  • Co-marketing agreement – Tool for creating agreements with partners from Rocket Lawyer.
  • Zift Solutions – Empower Channel Partners with Through Partner Marketing Automation.
  • Impartner – Impartner PRM is the industry’s only turnkey PRM solution which can help companies have a new system up and running in 30 days.

Further Reading:

12. Social Media Marketing– This includes the act of building engagement on established platforms and networks such Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn as well as targeted industry platforms


  • Buffer – Great for sharing across platforms and my daughter works here so go buy this!
  • Social Mention – Real-time social media search and analysis.
  • AgoraPulse – Full social media management tool.
  • Socedo – Socedo discovers the social prospects that match your custom criteria then further qualifies them via predefined engagement workflow.
  • Follower Wonk – Dig deeper into Twitter analytics to see who your followers are, where they are located and how often they tweet. Find and connect with new influencers in your niche.

Further Reading:

13. Online Events– This includes events such as webinars, demonstrations, and workshops conducted using online tools


  • Zoom – Lightweight online video chat platform for hosting meeting.
  • GotoWebinar – The tool for online meetings and webinars for big audiences.

Further Reading:

14. Offline Events– This includes events such as workshops, demonstrations, seminars, trade shows, showcases and customer appreciation events


  • Eventzilla – Lets you setup a custom event registration page and sell tickets or accept registrations online in less than 5 minutes.
  • MeetUp – World’s largest network of local groups. Meetup makes it easy for anyone to organize a local group or find one of the thousands already meeting up face-to-face.
  • Eventbrite – Makes it easy for event organizers to sell tickets and manage registrations.

Further Reading:

15. Speaking Engagements– This includes the appearance of company representatives in sponsored speaking engagements at events such as industry conferences


  • MindTools – Course on public speaking.
  • TED – Some of the best examples of short, impactful talks.
  • Toastmasters – Local groups that meet to practice public speaking.
  • SlideShare – Online portal for slide presentations.
  • Lanyrd – Tool for discovering professional events.

Further Reading:

16. Community Building – This includes the intentional act of building and facilitating a community around a shared interest or topic related to the organization’s industry.


  • Intercom.io – Tool that lets customers communicate from your website.
  • Delighted – Great tool for gathering feedback from your customers.
  • Ning – Build your own community platform.
  • Facebook Groups – A Facebook feature that makes it easy to build a community on Facebook.

Further Reading

Master the Art to Finding the Right Referrals

Master the Art to Finding the Right Referrals - Duct Tape Marketing

photo credit: iStockPhoto

Referrals are an important part of any successful business and shouldn’t be overlooked. Referrals don’t just happen, though that would be wonderful. You need to be creative, persistent and implement a strategy to generate them. Are you providing exceptional customer service, going above and beyond and leaving your clients impressed? If so it’s time to begin the referral process and see what happens!

Word of Mouth

Word of mouth is one of the most powerful ways to propel a referral. Who doesn’t love hearing about a great product or service from a reliable, trustworthy source? Think of a time when you had a bad experience.  I’m sure you shared negative feedback with anyone who would listen. And, I’m sure it left you with a bad impression for a while. But, what happens you when you have a positive experience? When you’ve exceeded client’s expectations they’re more than likely to share their feedback in a positive way. In fact, according to a study published by Nielsen, 84 percent of consumers say they trust recommendations from friends, family and colleagues about products and services. So, go ahead and exceed your client’s expectations so they can brag about you. There’s only good to come from it.

The Key is in the Follow Up

Follow up with your existing clients as soon as your product and service is delivered. Send a hand written thank you note, along with a small gesture of kindness. Do they like to golf? Send them a golf ball.  Are they an avid reader?  How about a latest best seller? Are they a workout fanatic? Send them a unique water bottle. If expectations were exceeded, ask your clients if they know of anyone else that might be interested in your products or services. It’s important to show them that you appreciate their business. Don’t expect a referral every time, but every couple of times will be fantastic for building a pre-qualified customer base.  Think of it like a love engine that keeps on giving you business.  Cherish your clients and who they refer to you. Be grateful on a daily basis and build connections for life.

The Power of Karma

I’m a big believer in the power of karma! It’s not all about asking. To circulate positive energy you need to give to get. Try giving a referral for no reason or just because — as a simple act of kindness. Karma is the Law of Cosmic Cause and Effect meaning what comes around goes around. The more you give, the more you will get. Do you like your graphic designer? Printer? Promotional partner? Event planner? Give a referral to a business colleague. Not a believer of karma?  Everyone has a story. What’s yours?

Use Social Media

Social media is an important part of our daily business and especially with the millennial market, it’s a must to be active. LinkedIn is a powerful networking tool for referral marketing and often underutilized. Spend a few strategic hours each week on LinkedIn and you’ll be amazed at the results. First, make sure you have a LinkedIn page that you’re proud to promote.  Are you looking to target a certain industry or company? Put together a list of three to five businesses you’d like to contact do a quick search and see who in your network is connected to the them. Send your contacts a note through LinkedIn and ask for an introduction. Hopefully your connection will respond favorably and you can move forward with your request. It’s as easy as that!

Interested in a few other ways to boost your referrals and recommendations with social media? Post updates daily, celebrate your colleague’s successes and accomplishments and follow your prospects and clients on platforms that are a part of your normal business promotion. Show interest to gain interest!

Referral marketing is a positive tool that helps you build business and get results. Keep in mind this does take time but the results will be well worth your effort. Make a commitment to take a couple of these referral strategies and implement them, in ways that work for you. Once you have a system in place, you’re on your way to new leads, potential partners and customers who want to give you business.

Rachel LeoneRachel Leone is president of Leone Marketing Solutions a trade show and event marketing firm specializing in promotional products.  For over two decades she has helped startups, small businesses and Fortune 500 brands stand out in the crowd with promotional products, premiums and gifts that create awareness and attract attention. For more information or a complimentary brainstorming session contact her at 781.740.3171 or [email protected]

Why Multimedia Production Will Push Your Brand Forward


photo credit: Pixabay

It’s no secret that the way we do business today is far more dynamic and advanced than the way we did business even just ten years ago. The professional world has skyrocketed far beyond basic printed text when it comes to marketing; there are increasingly more outlets surfacing that allow us to tell the world about our products and services, and taking advantage of these resources can help any brand amplify its presence.

Multimedia production–the use of various digital canvases such as text, audio, animation, photography, video, etc.–allows business owners to present their companies in an engaging and modern light, helping them to stand out from competitors and make a more powerful impact when attracting their prospective clients.

Podcasts, company introduction videos, whiteboard videos, and digital advertisements are all excellent ways to use multimedia to your brand’s advantage. If you’re still unsure of whether or not this type of digital marketing is for you, here are a few reasons why multimedia production will push your brand forward in 2016 and beyond:

Create More Share-Worthy Posts and Linkable Assets

Share-worthy posts are exactly what they sound like; they’re posts on social media platforms that get many shares, likes, favorites, etc. The more popular that a post is the more eyes that will come across it. This is an excellent way to create a larger audience and expose more users to your company.

If you’re only posting quick tweets and Facebook updates that alert users of your promotions, however, chances are that you’re not getting much advantageous attention on social media. This is where multimedia can make a tremendous, beneficial dent.

It’s estimated that videos are over 1000% times more likely to get shared than text or links. That is a monumental number, and to further prove the point, just take a look at your own social media accounts; how many of your friends share videos compared to how many share text-based posts?

Similarly, creating engaging podcasts or whiteboard videos that share useful insight or how-to-style advice is an excellent way to develop linkable assets for your website. Simply put, linkable assets are items on your website that visitors are likely to refer other users to–these tend to be items that help educate or enlighten users on a particular topic or resource in your industry. For SEO purposes, the more links you acquire that point back to your website from other relevant, high-quality websites, the higher your rankings in search engines will be.    

Increase Your ROI

If you can introduce your products or services to a potential customer with an eye-catching explanatory video, you’ll have a greater chance at converting that person into an actual paying customer.

Users want to be informed in a straightforward, easy-to-follow way, but they also want to be entertained. Videos and animations are becoming popular ways for businesses to demonstrate the value of their offerings while simultaneously providing the viewer with a captivating experience.  

According to recent video marketing statistics, over 50% of marketers agree that video provides the best return on investment when compared with any other type of content. At the rate that users are gravitating towards visually-engaging pieces (and based on the fact that the average user spends 5.5 hours per day viewing video content), we can logically predict that this percentage will continue to grow in 2016.

Appeal to a Broader Range of Potential Clients

The greater the variety of marketing tactics that you use, the broader your client base will become. Not all customers are swayed the same way, and experimenting with multiple platforms is a solid tactic to help diversify your audience and expand your brand awareness.

For instance, some users are interested in industry-based debates and discussions, and organizing a weekly or monthly podcast could help draw in these viewers while also establishing your authority in the industry.

Likewise, other prospective clients may be more interested in actionable advice, so developing several video tutorials to go along with your products or services would lead to more conversions among this group.

The point is that by broadening your marketing strategies, you’ll naturally widen your customer base as well as deepen your relationship with existing consumers.

Build a Stronger Brand Identity

Developing a recognizable, reputable public image is an important part of any company’s success. For example, solid PR and carefully cultivated credibility are why consumers are willing to pay more for Cheerios when the generic counterparts taste pretty much the exact same. In today’s world, multimedia can play an integral role in helping you strengthen your brand’s identity.

A brand identity helps potential customers answer the following questions:

  • What does this company offer?
  • Why should I trust this brand?
  • Why should I choose this brand over other providers?
  • How can I relate to this brand?

Multimedia production can help consumers answer these questions by:

  • displaying your products and services in an enticing, attractive manner
  • showcasing your industry experience with powerful infographics and educational podcasts/videos, leading to increased trust from your target client base
  • helping you stand out from other leading industry professionals by making your advertisements more engaging and interactive
  • cultivating a unique personality for your brand that consumers will come to know you by (Think company welcome videos, virtual mission statements, meet-the-team photos, etc.)

Increase Efficiency Within Your Internal Company Workings

Multimedia production isn’t just for your consumers; it can also significantly help make the inner workings of your company run more smoothly and efficiently.

For example, demonstrative photos and interactive training videos can dramatically streamline the learning process for new employees. This is also a boost for your bottom line, as you’ll save both money and time by simplifying the training of your staff.

Print-based company manuals can be, quite honestly, fairly dull, resulting in a decrease in information retention. The more dimensional and compelling your training process is, the more quickly new members of your team will pick up on the ins and outs of what’s expected of them. After all, who doesn’t learn better when they’re actually engaged with the subject-at-hand?

Closing Up

At the end of the day, multimedia production is the most effective way to get the word out about your company; traditional marketing tactics are still effective, but you’ll go much further with your brand if you’re willing to get a bit more innovative and creative with your efforts. The numbers don’t lie, and it’s quite transparent that the only way to push your brand forward into the future is to effectively mix and match various digital elements. That being said, get inspired, have fun, and let the whole world see and hear why your brand is the prime option to go with.  


glenda_photoGlenda McCarthy-Gaspar is the CEO of Proforma SI, a print, promotional, and graphic communications marketing company, and she has over 15 years of sales/marketing experience. She currently lives with her husband and two golden retrievers and has three grown children who have kids of their own.