Wave Car Wash owner and operator Ed Steremberg is hosting a coupon book fundraiser. (Photo: Hartford Courant)

Wave Car Wash owner and operator Ed Steremberg is hosting a coupon book fundraiser. (Photo: Hartford Courant)

Here’s a great case study for anybody looking for a fresh marketing idea.

Wave Car Wash in Connecticut is holding a fundraiser in partnership with Rotary Clubs to raise money for new technology for neonatal intensive care units at the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. The proceeds will be used to stick webcams on incubators so worried parents can be closer to their newborns.

The way it works is Rotary members get a bundle of coupon books that they can sell for $50. Half the money raised goes toward the NICU webcams. “I’m a firm believer in businesses helping their local service organizations who do so much for the community,” says Ed Steremberg, Wave Car Wash owner, in a post on The Hartford Courant website. “Half the proceeds from the sale of these books will raise $2,500 to benefit the webcam project.”

This arrangement is great for a lot of reasons. First of all, no matter what happens, you’re going to end up raising money for a good cause. It’s also a good way to spread coupon books around and reach new potential customers at no cost (and potential profit because the distribution is free, courtesy of the Rotary Club).

But here’s the most important thing: When it comes to marketing, you have to give a little to get a little. Especially if you don’t have millions to spend on market research and ad buys, guerrilla tactics are your best bet. But those don’t work if all you do is ask, ask, ask. Often, the best way to generate loyalty is to build goodwill.

A strategy like the one Wave Car Wash is using checks multiple boxes in the list of ways to build goodwill. One is discounts; everyone likes a discount, and sometimes a small incentive is all it takes to persuade someone to give your car wash a try. Another is charity. When you do something for a cause higher than profit, customers notice. As customers become increasingly savvy and socially conscious, this will only become more important. And the last is partnerships. By partnering with both the Rotary Club and the medical center, Wave Car Wash has increased its network of cheerleaders immensely.

In fact, some of the most important connections will be the Rotary members selling the coupon books. Because they have to buy into the product 100 percent in order to sell it honestly to friends, family and strangers, they are now some of the brand’s best ambassadors and most loyal customers.