Marketing Leverage Times – Fall 2005

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Welcome to the latest edition of the Marketing Leverage Times. Our goal is to provide you with provocative information and thought-provoking commentary on marketing and business issues to help you better leverage your investment in marketing programs, processes and people. We hope you will enjoy this regular collection of tips, tidbits and tools and we welcome your input and feedback. Tell us what you like and don’t like and what you’d like to see in future editions.


With the recent disasters in the US Southeast and Asia due to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the devastating earthquake in Pakistan/Kashmir, this issue takes a different flavor than the normal Marketing Leverage Times.

What went wrong during the Katrina and Rita disasters and their aftermath will be documented and debated for a long time. What we’d like to focus on now is what went right. And that’s the fact that thousands of businesses across America and even around the world responded very quickly to the situation and provided assistance and support in an outstanding manner.

The ability to donate to the American Red Cross has now become so ubiquitous that it is virtually impossible to walk into any retail store in the U.S. that does not allow point of sale disaster donations with your grocery, sporting goods, clothing or other purchases. They’ve made the donation process about as simple and painless as can be. Then there are the schools, other non-profit associations, restaurants, stores, etc. who are donating a percentage of sales to disaster relief, as well as the companies that have shipped tons of free supplies to the disaster area, and companies like FedEx and DHL who provided the shipping at no charge.

The business of business is to be competitive and profitable. I am not so naive as to believe that all of these donations were done solely for altruistic reasons. However, I do believe many businesses have come to understand that whatever out-of-pocket costs they incur as a result of this type of generosity are very small in light of the overall goodwill and long-term support they receive from the public and their customers for such donations. Even Wal-Mart, who has a reputation for ruthlessly pushing its suppliers to keep costs low, received kudos for the outstanding work they did in re-opening stores in affected areas and using their renowned inventory control systems to funnel the right building and emergency supplies from around the country to those stores that needed them.

To some extent, we have recently seen this type of behavior happening even without a major national disaster. Witness the incredible popularity of Nike’s Live Strong Lance Armstrong wrist bands, Target’s Pink promotions for breast cancer research, or the Buy a Sneaker campaigns to support the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

But not every organization has figured this out. I was quite disappointed when I went into my local UPS Store to find out that where it would normally have cost me $84.12 to ship a large box of diabetes supplies, my cost of shipping these same supplies for Katrina relief was going to be, yes, that’s right, $84.12. Huh? Although UPS on a national level may have been supporting the relief effort, the message had not filtered down to its local affiliates. Next time perhaps I should try FedEx or DHL.

The question then arises: How does your organization react to crises like these?

  • What are you doing to engender an attitude of support in your employees?
  • Do they understand the position your organization takes in these types of activities?
  • Are they empowered to suggest support activities of their own?
  • Are they encouraged to do what’s necessary to help customers in a time of need?
  • And, most importantly, what are you doing so that your employees, suppliers and customers all understand that you are committed to doing good today?


Should your website be of a promotional nature or should it be used to actually sell products? The answer…it depends. Leverage2Market President Linda Popky will be one of the featured panelists on this topic at the 2005 Confab Conference for consultants, in Reno, NV, on October 24th. See more information on the Confab Conference. If you are interested in this topic and can’t attend, email us for a copy of the presentation.

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For those of you who enjoy classical music, Leverage2Market’s Linda Popky will also be participating in a piano marathon, Sunday November 6th in San Mateo, CA. Nineteen musicians will be presenting a total of nine hours of music to support the non-profit Crestmont Conservatory of Music. See more information.


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