Volunteer or pro bono engagements may seem overwhelming for a small business. Most of them don’t have an employee engagement, HR or marketing department, but still want to be present and active in the communities where they operate and to be recognized as a socially responsible business. How can they support local nonprofits without overwhelming their staff and operations?
Teamwork makes the dream work
Enter Chicago-based guerilla marketing extraordinaire Out Cold Marketing. Out Cold Marketing (OCM) was approached by Taproot last spring for support on a marketing project to build awareness and brand recognition during Pro Bono Week—a national platform aimed at celebrating and inspiring pro bono. OCM is known for helping brands stand out in innovative and unique ways and offered to help Taproot build and execute a campaign that would do just that. Having just purchased a vintage VW Bus, OCM threw out the idea of a marketing tour running Monday- Friday of Pro Bono Week that would target downtown professionals and tourists–getting their attention with a branded Taproot bus.
The best part, Out Cold Marketing was so inspired by Taproot’s cause that they volunteered to donate the entire five day marketing tour, including their staff, 100% pro bono. “If you get behind something that you believe in and that your company is all about, doing pro bono is a seamless process. It is business as usual,” Fritz Heffinger, President of OCM, said. The OCM team took their key learnings as a business, directly applied them to a scoped pro bono project and fully committed to successful execution of the work.
Small business, significant impact
The marketing tour kicked off with some help from OCM’s friends, Insight Sign Co., who donated a VW bus wrap and Specialty Marketing, who heavily discounted Taproot-branded water bottles. Executed by OCM, the co-branded tour was a huge success and distributed 2,000 water bottles across the city, while raising awareness around pro bono, Taproot, and OCM all over Chicago. The tour donated by OCM was valued at over $13,000 and will serve as a case study for the business to share with future clients.
“There is actually a deeper connection to owning a business in Chicago and that’s being a part of the community,” Fritz said. “We did this because we believe in it, at the end of the day we believe in this type of marketing. To be able to donate that to Taproot broadens the message to our employees that this is the right thing to do from a marketing perspective.”
Overwhelmed with starting a pro bono project? Start small and start with what you know. Companies like OCM are leading the pro bono movement by applying their unique expertise directly to nonprofits.
Overwhelmed with starting a pro bono project? Start small and start with what you know.