Coinstar Attracting Customers Through “Give Marketing”

Coinstar, the green automated coin counting and change conversion machines that you find at most convenience stores, is cleverly using Give Marketing to increase customer awareness.

coinstar machine


Just visit select Coinstar Centers, and you’ll be able to choose from one of a handful of charity where you can donate your loose change.  You’ll receive a receipt for your taxes, and the charity will receive the full amount of your contribution (these charitable transactions are processed sans the usual Coinstar 8.9% processing fee).

Only certain “select” charities can receive donations (Coinstar has their own internal selection criteria), and this feature is only available at certain Coinstar Center locations (presumably those with newer machines).

With this program the benefits for the charity are clear.  The main benefit for Coinstar is that they are opening up their service to new customers by aligning themselves with pre-established groups of potential customers.

For a Give Marketing campaign, Coinstar has made a great start.  But they still have left quite a bit on the table from a marketing perspective.

Coinstar should team up with these charities to heavily promote their charitable program through the charity’s normal channels.  Every successful charity has a method in which they communicate with their advocates.  Coinstar needs to embed themselves in these communications.

Coinstar should cross market with the charity.  Provide the charity with prepackaged marketing material (creative for posters, direct mail pieces, email newsletters, sample copy, co-branded widgets).  Offer to participate in co-operative traditional marketing (local TV, newspaper, in-store advertising, etc.).  Arrange for testimonials from the charity’s advocates.  Broker deals to promote the charity through the stores where the Coinstar Centers are located.

All of these cross marketing activities can be reasonably contractually obligatory; after all, Coinstar is providing the charity with something of value.

The trick to making these programs work (as I’ve mentioned before) is to make it easy for the partner to participate.  The harder it is for the partner to implement, the harder it will be for you.

If you are looking at creating a similar program, think small.  Limit the program to only a select few “early adopters” (I also like the term “charter members”).  Then create a waiting list for any new charities who want to join the program.

[A quick note, Coinstar only got part of this right.  They’ve closed off their program to new charities, offering them a reduced transaction rate instead.  That’s a great way to alienate potential advocates.  A better solution would be to explain that the program is in a limited “beta” phase, and that charities who meet the following critieria (list criteria with explanations of why those criteria exist) will be allowed to sign up for the waiting list. ]