Savings and discounts are Marketing 101 when it comes to getting customers in the door. However, a growing segment of consumers don’t base their purchase decisions solely on product and price, but also the values and social consciousness of the businesses in their community. That’s where a new site called HelpOT – which I had the chance to check out and experience firsthand at the South by Southwest conference in Austin, TX earlier this month – comes into play.
HelpOT is a website that uses social media to bring together local businesses that are tying charitable activities to their operations with socially conscious consumers. Businesses can post their own activities and specials that consumers can then browse. The site is currently live in seven cities, though examples of how it’s being used are most readily available in Austin, where the company made its initial marketing push and was able to get some 50 businesses involved.
Here are a few examples of how it’s being used: Local restaurant Hickory Street Bar & Grille is donating $2 of every $25 gift card purchased to the local YMCA. Local carpet cleaning and upholstery company Super Steam It posted that it was going to be making a donation of $250 to Doctors Without Borders for every 10 customers who get tile and grout cleaning. And local franchisees of companies like Panera and Quiznos got involved too, announcing programs for donating extra bread to Salvation Army and donations to the University of Texas’ scholarship fund, respectively.
HelpOT makes it easy for consumers to keep up with the businesses in their community too – each city has its own Twitter account where users can follow local charitable tie-ins, meaning they don’t have to remember to visit the HelpOT website to keep up with promotions. In addition to Austin, the service is available in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, Los Angeles, and Orange County.
Whether or not HelpOT becomes a major destination for this type of activity or just pops up from time-to-time at major local events like SXSW remains to be seen. Nonetheless, you can probably see how integrating these types of activities into your business might be beneficial, and how social media provides a good outlet for promoting them, as customers both keep track of your activities and share with their own networks.
Look no further than the recent earthquakes in Haiti and Chile to see consumers’ charitable spirit and desire to do whatever they can – no matter how small – to pitch in and help. Connecting your business to a timely cause – global or local – is an increasingly important piece of making your business relevant and through services like HelpOT and your own social media efforts, could be another way to get more customers in the doors.