Building Partnerships
Engaging the Business Community, Step 4: Targeting Businesses

Updated: 6.1.06

Now that you have identified your business outreach goals, conducted an inventory of the benefits you can offer business partners and created audience profiles, it is time to prepare your business prospect list. A company profile worksheet is included in this section to help guide your company research.

Creating Your List

Creating a business prospect list involves more than just writing down a list of companies on paper. It involves carefully evaluating the companies you put on your list to ensure that your recruiting time and resources are used wisely. Consider the following criteria as you prepare your list. A company does not need to meet each criterion to be on the list, but it should meet most of them.

Will the company help you reach your outreach goals? Review your goals for the year and make sure that the companies you are targeting will help you reach those goals. Be sure to think through all of the ways that the business community can help your outreach efforts. Think beyond asking companies to communicate health care coverage information to customers and employees. There may be other tangible ways a company can help.

Are the company's products and/or services geared toward the same audiences your organization wants to reach? Companies will be more interested in working with you if they know that the families you want to reach are also their customers.

Does the company employ a large percentage of people whose children may be eligible? This criterion is important if the focus of your business outreach is employees. However, this information may be difficult to ascertain, since many companies are proprietary about their employee benefit information. You can make an educated guess for the purpose of creating your business prospect list.

Does the company have a history of community involvement, especially in the areas of children, families or health? Companies that are active in the community are usually receptive to listening to new ideas and opportunities for involvement.

Does the company have a good reputation? Avoid associating your program with a company that is generating negative press or one that has an unfavorable reputation in the community. You should also avoid companies whose products (e.g., tobacco) or services contradict the healthy life you are striving to provide for children.

Additional factors to consider when preparing your business recruitment list include:

Current economic conditions.* A downturn in the economy, company downsizing, plant closings and restructuring may affect the type and number of companies on your recruitment list. The same can be said for favorable market conditions, low unemployment rates and increased consumer confidence. Be sure to consider current economic factors when creating your list.

Business associations. Business associations (e.g., chambers of commerce, Rotary Clubs, restaurant and other trade associations) are often an overlooked yet valuable outreach vehicle. An association can assist your business outreach efforts in a number of ways, including:

Media Companies. Television, radio and print publication companies provide another excellent, yet often overlooked, partnership opportunity. In addition to asking media companies to provide free advertising, place public service announcements or match a paid media buy with free placements, you could ask them to:

* Many business contacts will be familiar with the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), and they may ask you questions about the program and how it relates to Medicaid or SCHIP. Information on COBRA can be found in the Resources section.

Size of the Business

The size of a business can influence whether it would be a good partner for your outreach efforts. For the purpose of Covering Kids & Families business outreach, large companies are those with more than 50 employees and small companies are those with 50 or fewer employees. This section outlines things to consider when reaching out to large and small businesses to determine whether they will be a good fit.

Large Companies
When considering large companies, it will be helpful to note the following:

Large companies may have more human and financial resources to invest in outreach activities than small companies.

Large companies may have one central office to disseminate information throughout the organization for maximum outreach efficiency.

Large companies may be decentralized and allow individual departments or local offices to determine policies and procedures related to community involvement activities.

Large companies may have community relations or public affairs departments that are willing to assist with media outreach support.

Large companies may be interested in outreach to customers and employees.

Examples of large companies, by industry, include:

Small Businesses
When considering small businesses, it will be helpful to note the following:

Small businesses have fewer human and financial resources than larger companies. A small business may not have extra staff to devote to coordinating an outreach effort or resources to produce outreach materials.

Outreach to small businesses can be more labor intensive, since it may involve calling or meeting with businesses one on one to encourage their participation.

Small businesses may be more interested in employee outreach than customer outreach.

Small businesses include:

*A franchise is an independently owned and operated company. The franchisee (owner) purchases the company brand from the parent company and agrees to keep the products and services at a set standard. For example, Subway is a corporate-owned store and franchise store. It is important to note this distinction because a franchise store can make charitable giving and community involvement decisions independently from its parent corporation. For example, if Subway Restaurants works with Covering Kids & Families on outreach efforts nationwide, this does not mean that every Subway in the country will participate. Franchise owners will normally decide independently whether or not to participate. To find out if your business prospect is a corporate-owned or franchise store, you should inquire with the store owner or manager.

Note: For statistics about businesses that provide health care coverage for their employees according to the size of the business, see the Fact Sheet on Businesses and Health Care Coverage.

Company Research

Once you have created your prospect list, it is important to conduct research on the companies you want to approach. The depth of your research will vary based on the company and the type of outreach activity you want it to conduct. At a minimum, you should visit each company's Web site.

If a small business does not have a Web site, you can check with your local Small Business Administration, chamber of commerce, or Better Business Bureau to see if information on the company is available. The more you know about a company, the better you will be able to evaluate its potential as a partner and prepare your recruiting approach. A company profile worksheet is provided in this section. This worksheet can serve as a guide for the type of company information you should collect.

The most common sources for company information include:

Company Web sites
Annual and financial reports
Business publications and business sections of local newspapers
Business information Web sites