Perhaps you have been invited to market your product through a specifically orientated program or a socially responsible product aggregator. Now you must decide if this marketing opportunity will align with your mission and vision statements and the goals you have set for the future of your business. Where to begin?

Do your research: Request information from the group on both its social agenda and marketing mission. In doing so, consider how your product relates to this marketing platform. If there is little compatibility, you may want to do more research before signing any agreements.

Ask to speak with other producers involved in the program and get input from a variety of these sources. What do they feel are the strengths and weaknesses of this type of marketing?

Talk to buyers who use the service and note feedback, especially on customer care. Also ask these questions: Will this service enhance the sales potential or elevate exposure on a given agenda? If the service is limited in scope, does the affiliation hold promise of a good return on your investment?

Determine investments: What will you be asked to invest in the project – time, capital, processing, transportation or other inputs? This is critical to determine upfront in an agreement contract so that each party is aware of their anticipated roles and responsibilities. Carefully consider if you have these resources in place now or if you’d need to add them at a later date.

Consider production: You must determine the production necessary to fulfill your contract. Will you be able to increase and finance the upswing to meet specific goals? Who makes these decisions at the service and how much lead time do you have for adjustments? Again, these considerations should be discussed during the initial talks, or naturally before an affiliation takes place.

Message: In viewing the many considerations of selling through a service or group, ask yourself if the message you will be linked to is the right one for you. It sounds simple, but the implications are many and possibly serious. If your customer base doesn’t fit into this new marketing segment, how will you justify your loyalty to current marketing groups? And if the group’s message should change, how will this affect your overall marketing plan?

New marketing sources are plentiful and target very specific audiences. Buyers are responding by using their shopping dollars to support myriad social causes and group purchasing opportunities. Before you decide to jump in, do your homework and take the time to carefully consider both the message and the means for success.

The above information is provided for educational purposes only and should not be substituted for professional business or legal counseling.