How we grew our sales year over year despite inflation, recession or a pandemic and how you can too

January 23, 2024

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My company Apollo Eleven has increased in sales for the past 4 years in a row. In fact, all my businesses have increased year over year. Despite a pandemic, a recession, and let’s face it an all around crappy few years in America. What’s the secret? 

One of the biggest contributors to our success has been giving. 

Giving might seem completely disconnected from business because after all the point of business is to make money right? 

If you secretly answered “no” in your head, keep reading, you’re in the right place. If you answered “yes” then keep reading too…you probably need this. 

The majority of people don’t start businesses to make money. In fact, according to Cox Business research only 8% of people start businesses for money. Mostly business owners are motivated by being their own boss and providing a service they’re proud of. 

In essence a leading motivation is to serve or give to the world what you love to create to foster the feeling of being part of something bigger; impacting others lives. We want to give because it connects us to something bigger, outside of ourselves. 

This is actually the same motivation that customers have believe it or not. Customers want to feel like they’re part of something bigger than themselves, a collective, helping impact others. 

So how do you use giving and philanthropy to drive sales and marketing? (Without coming off boastful.)

1. Involve your customers

When we first started giving at our business we did it quietly, with a little disclaimer at the bottom of our website that said “We give 10% of our gross revenue to charity.” 

No one saw it or cared, because they didn’t feel connected to it. To be fair, it’s hard to feel emotional about any disclaimer on a website. 

Giving can be a powerful social signal to your customers and fortune 500 companies have used philanthropy for years to make themselves feel more human. So here’s how to involve your customers in the giving process…

Create a per payment donation

Instead of lumping an end of the year gift together, let customers feel like THEY’RE contributing and making a difference by showing them what % of their purchase goes to then given charity when they’re paying. 

Send an annual giving report

Annual giving reports are often left to non profits, but businesses can benefit from sending them out and thanking the customers for being a part of the change they’ve helped to create in the world. 

Choosing a charity that your customers will resonate with.

Choose to give somewhere that fits the same emotional connection your customers will have. For example, don’t choose to give to an earth fund if your demographics don’t resonate with climate change issues. 

2. Involve your employees 

Create giving goals based on sales 

Tying giving goals to sales was a huge driver of our success early on. When the team felt like reaching a goal helped people it made the goal more real and tangible. It also made not reaching that goal more personal. 

Let employees help choose the charity

Letting employees choose a charity and cause they’re passionate about just drives the whole concept home. We found they feel so much more connected to results when they’re the ones that chose to impact that specific cause. 

Impact Reports 

Don’t forget to highlight your total giving for the year at the company christmas party! 

3. Involve giving in your marketing 

Finally, what helps drive this all home is how to use giving (in a non salesy way) to drive your new customer acquisitions. 

Tie giving to new signups 

Adding phrases like “For every 10 new customers we give away 5% revenue to [given charity]” or “We’re proud to give away 2.5% gross earnings to [given charity]” 

Invite potential customers to create an impact with you

Using phrases like “Make a difference with us by scheduling your free appointment now” or “join our mission to impact [cause] by scheduling a call today” invite your prospect into a world that’s bigger than just what you’re selling. Remember, everyone wants to be part of something bigger.

Invite your prospect and customers to donate with you

Use social media to invite your prospects and customers to donate with you, maybe match gifts up to a certain amount, or focus on a different charity each month. Have your followers screenshot and direct message you their donation so they can claim something free. 

Saying something like “Anyone that donates to [charity] this month, screenshots their donation and direct messages us will get [free gift]” 

Make the free gift something that’s valuable, not just a discount. This will be a lead generation method by itself.