What are you racing for?

This morning I ran the Komen Race for the Cure in Detroit.  As a native metro Detroiter, it was awesome to see 30,000+ people in the city.  Downtown Detroit was alive even on a cloudy day.  The streets were packed with runners and walkers, adults and kids…every one of these people rallying around a cause that has impacted their lives in some way.  Since 1992, the Detroit race has raised over $17.5 million locally.

Since my mind is always thinking, not only did I see a rallying cry for 30,000 people, I also saw an opportunity.  As of late, my business thoughts have focused in on one thing, the customer.  In a recent post, I gave my thoughts on Joseph Jaffe’s book, Flip the Funnel.  If you recall, Jaffe suggests leveraging current customers in order to gain new ones.  What can businesses, both big and small, do to rally loyal followers (current customers) around an idea?  Businesses can get behind a social cause.  The caveat in all of this is that businesses need to do this because it’s the right thing to do and not because they are trying to get a sale out of it.

When there is a worthy cause to get behind, communities get involved, as evidenced by the number of people in downtown Detroit this morning.  Yes, the corporate sponsors there with their product displays, but the overwhelming theme was about the fight against breast cancer.  From a business perspective, one of the benefits you get is exposure.  However, the additional benefit you get is being tied to something bigger than the company itself…people and the community.

So my questions to you are this:  As a business owner, do you see an intrinsic value in this?  As a consumer, can something like this influence your opinion of a brand, product or service?  Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Random Thoughts

A couple of things…

Over the last week, I’ve seen 2 really great examples of companies that are looking beyond ROI and profits to get their brands out to the public.  They are doing good in their community and allowing people to take a part in it.  Social Causes.  Volunteering.  Putting others needs before yours.  I truly believe that if we all just gave a little bit of ourselves to others, we could make such a huge difference in this world.  When I see companies that recognize this, I get really excited and want to watch how these things impact a community.  Take a look at what Starbucks is doing on Thursday, April 15th and what Chevrolet just kicked off this week.

The Big Picture, A Green Project from Starbucks

Building Diamonds and Dreams from Chevrolet, Major League Baseball and Scotts

If you’re still not convinced because you don’t there are any benefits, then check out this blog post from Tai Goodwin.  She lists 6 ways volunteering can boost your career.  These should at least get your mind thinking about doing some good in the community.

  1. It can fuel your passion
  2. You can practice new skills
  3. Volunteer your way into a potential job
  4. Volunteering is a way to expand your network
  5. Exposure to new ways of doing things
  6. You can use it as a team building experience

Topic 2:

I’ve become a huge Gary Vaynerchuk fan.  He is passionate about customer service.  That’s how he’s made his living.  Companies should think about what he’s saying and if they aren’t doing some of the things he suggests, then do them.  In the video below, he talks about how today is a “what have you done for me lately” world.  It’s not about looking at research months after a promotion.  Tools like Twitter Search or Google Alerts can give you real time information on what people are saying about your brands.  It’s up to those brands to engage in the conversation.  Check it out.

Those are my random thoughts for the day.  I’d love to hear your feedback on volunteering and what Gary Vaynerchuk said in his video.  What do you think?  Let me know in the comments below.

Social Media and Social Causes

Everyone knows about the Red Cross effort to raise money for the earthquake in Haiti.  If you don’t, then you are not paying attention!  I first heard about it on Twitter and it continues to be a trending topic there.  It got me thinking again (dangerous) that social media as a communication tool is so powerful.  More importantly, when it supports a social cause like Haiti, it can be impactful enough to raise over $5 million in relief by merely texting “Haiti” to 90999.

As I’ve thought about ways to get more involved in social causes and philanthropy, I’ve met some great people that do it for a living.  For example, I met Daniel Herndon through Twitter.  His organization, Forkout, uses creative philanthropy and experiential marketing to “forkout” cash for worthy organizations.  One of his recent projects, Community First Initiative, was featured in the USA Today.  In an effort to raise money for Community First, Daniel and Darren Heil (director of Community First) lived underneath a billboard in a cargo van while providing updates via webcam and Twitter.  The goal was to raise $25,000 for CFI.  To date, they raised $18,000.  Click here to read the story.

So this week, the Washington D.C. Auto Show is going on.  Our sister brand, Chevrolet, has a display in which they are collecting donations in a Chevrolet Colorado for the Red Cross and Haiti.  In order to get the word out, many of us at GM are using Twitter and Facebook to generate the awareness and hopefully raise some significant money for the efforts by the Red Cross in Haiti.  A lot of money has been raised but the devastation to an already destitute country is unimaginable.  So if you happen to read this and are in the Washington D.C. area, please stop by and donate whatever you can spare, and while there you might as well check out the great products from  Buick, GMC, Chevrolet, and Cadillac!

Thanks for reading!