The Real Deal
May, 2005

SUPPORTING YOUR CAUSE

By Esther Muller

 

Work isn’t everything to Jackie Teplitzky, but her job as a senior vice president for Prudential Douglas Elliman certainly requires energy and time that may impinge on her other passions – faith, family and helping children in need.

Teplitzky’s juggling act is one millions of working moms face, but she’s found at least one way to blend her charitable pursuits with her demanding professional schedule.

Her answer is to marry her personal interests to her professional life throught cause-related makreting that blends her faith and her urge to help others, and pass the value of those goals on to her two young sons.

She’s active in the UJA-Federation of New York, a faith-driven philanthropic organization, and also works with the Pajama Program, a national children’s charity that provides new pajamas to needy youngsters, all with the support of her employer.

According to Dawn Lerman, an associate professor of marketing at New York City’s Fordham University, cause-related marketing, or CRM, is a marketing strategy in which a business actively associates itself with a worthy cause.  The goal is distinctly twofold; creating an awareness of and support for the cause, usually a charity, as well as generating additional business opportunities by distinguishing the company from its competitors and bolstering its image.

That’s especially helpful in real estate, where the market is bulging at the seams.  There are 59,569 licensed real estate professionals in New York City, according to the New York Department of State Division of Licensing Services. Manhattan alone has 25, 972 licensed brokers and salespersons, a record number. The competition for listings, which seem to shrink every quarter, has become fiercer than ever before. With market share decreasing, we must be creative in order to remain successful.

Through its ties to charitable causes, CRM can enhance your business, but it cannot work if it is driven solely by your business needs. Let’s face it: real estate is viewed as a cutthroat business. But while we are all motivated by the bottom line, we can show our human side by demonstrating that money is not the only thing that matters to us.

The first step in CRM is giving careful consideration to which charity or cause you want to support. “You have to choose one that is meaningful to you,” Professor Lerman notes. “And you have to be willing to commit to it in a truly heartfelt manner.  It will be detrimental to your business and reputation if it appears that you’re engaging in cause-related marketing simply to grow your business.”

I prefer to work with smaller charities where I can have a stronger role in their operations and higher visibility with members. You can give time, money or a combination of both.

Figure out what’s best for you.  Set up a meeting with the executive director of your selected cause.  Find out what their needs are and what role you can play in helping them to meet those needs. Once you start working with a charity, send out a press release announcing your involvement and a letter to your clients alerting them to your activities. Include information in your pitch package or on your Web site, such as a link to the charity’s home page, to keep your activities front-and-center without being too overt.

Teplitzky says her relationship with these organizations has opened doors to professional opportunities – such as new business leads, speaking engagements and one-on-one networking with luminaries from Manhattan’s business and social circles.

Give some consideration to engaging in cause-related marketing. The returns, both professional and personal, are worth it.  You can benefit organizations or charities you care about while enhancing your own business.