What happens when business and philanthropy unite? Ask Dallas Cowboys Legend and Pro Football Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith and his wife, Pat, President of Pat & Emmitt Smith Charities.
The Second Annual Emmitt Smith Celebrity Invitational (May 13-14th in Frisco, Texas) sparked a deluge of celebrities, entrepreneurs and athletes joining forces to support philanthropy. YFS Magazine was on location at Pat & Emmitt Smith Charities’ high-impact event to bring you a behind the scenes look on philanthropy at its best. We’ve uncovered the best insights on creating unique experiences, cause marketing and how entrepreneurs can leverage charity for the common good.
Celebrity Partnership and Brand Integration
Delivering first-class experience was a key theme at this year’s event. The exclusive two-day private event included a VIP reception, celebrity poker and golf tournament alongside a live auction of Once-in-a-Lifetime Fantasy Experiences. A holistic blend of first-class fundraising, brand integration and sponsorship proved to be a hit for attendees.
Last year, the inaugural event raised over $600 thousand dollars. Using event proceeds, Smith Charities (PESC) provides grants to non-profits that focus on the needs of under served children.
“The Emmitt Smith Celebrity Invitational showcases our charity’s commitment to leveraging top celebrity events and key relationships in the business and philanthropic communities to create opportunities to serve the educational needs of children,” said Pat Smith, President of Pat & Emmitt Smith Charities.
A host of premium brands including Westin Hotels, Fiji Water, American Airlines, Chocolate Secrets & Wine Gardens, The Gent’s Place and others participated in this year’s event. From live Fantasy Experience auctions hosted by Heritage Auctions to swanky skincare by PERMISSION Skincare for Men at Suite 22’s Celebrity and VIP Gifting Lounge, business and philanthropy is looking better than ever.
Cause Marketing Pays Big Dividends
Cause marketing is truly about leveraging relationships to build an irresistible brand experience. Hamilton Sneed, HAS Events Founder, the creative genius behind Suite 22, created an exclusive VIP and Celebrity luxury experience lounge. The brand experience was unique and interactive. Two of the crowd favorites included a Chocolate Secrets Gourmet Ice Cream Bar and MUNITIO Listening Lounge.
Suite 22 boasted an array of value added engagement. Event sponsors that took part in this year’s activities understood the value of local partnership. “I support charities because I am a part of the community. I have witnessed firsthand the depth and breadth of the Smith family’s generosity toward the community,” says Pam Eudaric-Amiri, Owner of Dallas-based Chocolate Secrets & Wine Gardens.
Similarly, customers prefer companies that care. “We are still willing to pay a bit of a premium if we’re supporting a good cause – if we’re supporting the added ‘community’ bottom line,” according to CMO.com.1 Sixty-seven percent of global consumers say they would switch brands if another brand of similar quality supported a good cause.
Stretch your Brand’s Charity Investment
Companies can leverage the power of cause association and develop a unique market position. But what happens after the curtain closes on your next event? Brands need to keep the momentum going,” said Bri Crum, Founder of Dallas-based PlanbPR. “Use post-event photos and media coverage as brand exposure. Send out a post-press release with key photos, and don’t forget to send thank you notes.”
If you are ready to blend business with charity, here are four tactics proven to stretch your investment and keep the momentum going strong:
Court the Press
Don’t overlook the effectiveness of distributing a post-event press release to targeted media outlets. Forget the sales pitch and focus on the bigger picture of why cause association is important to your brand. Partner up with a publicist to maximize your message. If you’re relatively media savvy, try do-it-yourself (DIY) PR.
Build Social Influence
Share a series of highlights, quotes and testimonials from the event. Engage fans on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn by posting photos, requesting comments and feedback on your charitable partnership.
Drive Customer Loyalty
Launch an exclusive social promotion to support your charity of choice (i.e. For a Limited time, 15% of sales proceeds will be donated to XYZ Charity). Reward viral sharing and ask your biggest fans to spread the word across social networks. Give and you will receive.
Overhaul Marketing Tools
Customer testimonials and celebrity endorsements are invaluable. Revitalize out-dated promotional materials and integrate your company’s latest happenings across all consumer-facing touch points (i.e. website, social media, brochures, etc.)
Photo Credits: Peter Wynn of Plano Pete Photography
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