The MarketingProfs Book Club is back with a book that does a lot of good for just causes… by outright stealing know-how from big brands (Robin Hood, anyone?). For those new to the MarketingProfs Book Club, welcome aboard (sign up here). As for those returning for another round, welcome back.

What's the book? Robin Hood Marketing by Katya Andresen. What's more? You might win one of 50 free copies. You want more still? Everyone gets a bonus just for reading this article.

In past book club segments we've covered social media, branding, and communications. Now we're turning to the world of nonprofit and cause-related marketing.

Which leads to the BIG question: How do you motivate people to give money, take action, or otherwise advance your worthy cause... amid so many competing causes?

The answer is marketing: savvy, sophisticated strategies just like the big guns use—even if you're operating on a shoestring budget.

Robin Hood Marketing shows you how to sell your mission as successfully as the great marketing minds of corporate America sell their products. Quite cleverly, Andresen created "The Robin Hood Rules"—which "steal" from the winning formulas that sell everything from socks, cigarettes, even mattresses—to show nonprofit marketers how to appeal to their audiences' (not their own) values and so get people to take notice.

Q&A with Katya Andresen

Q: What inspired you to write the book—what core message do you want for nonprofit marketers to receive from reading it?

A: I spent seven years living in developing countries, and the overwhelming human need I saw on a daily basis left me with an acute sense of how important it is to do good in this world, and to do it in a hurry.

The problem is, do-gooders—myself sometimes included, sadly—tend to become so consumed with our causes that we forget we need to be marketers, not just missionaries, in order to win hearts and minds. We spend too much time talking to ourselves, which is a waste of precious time.

I wrote the book because I think a great way to amplify our message and put social change on a fast track is with great marketing—and the for-profit world is a wonderful place to look for lessons. Enter Robin Hood.

Q: Can you give us some successful examples of causes that "stole" corporate savvy to great success?

A: My favorite will always be the one that opens the book—the giant smiling condom in Cambodia that turned me on to marketing with corporate savvy.

I was a jaded journalist then, but I knew a good story when I saw a nonprofit, Population Service International, doing such an excellent job marketing Number One condoms (including giant inflatable condoms!) that people WANTED to buy and use.

Instead of telling people they should fear AIDS and scolding them into changing their behavior, they sold the social change.

Another example is CARE's "I am Powerful" campaign, which takes the Nike approach of celebrating the strength of women and channels it into a desire to help empower other women—rather than sell shoes.

Q: What about cause-related marketers who are working on shoestring budgets...? How do they get their message to rise above the clutter of so many worthy causes?

A: I'm glad you asked that, because small budgets too often become an excuse for small thinking. The strength of our marketing need not be dictated by the size of our budget.

If you focus on connecting your cause to your audience's values—rather than telling people to value your cause—and reach people when they are in the best place, time, and state of mind to act, you will get more bang for your buck.

My mantra is, "concentrate and inundate" rather than "spray and pray"!

Q: Though the book discusses nonprofit causes, what lessons can marketers of commercial enterprises leverage in their plans and programs?

A: Charities understand that most people give money for emotional reasons, not intellectual ones, and so they first appeal to our feelings. I think smart companies know the same goes for their products. The last pair of shoes that I bought had a lot more to do with my own aspirations than my feet.

By focusing on the emotional storyline as nonprofits do, for-profit corporations can build a greater bond with their audiences.

Another way for companies to cement that bond is with a direct alignment with a charity—hence the incredible increase we see in cause-related marketing.

Participation and Bonus

1. Sign up by Friday, October 12

To be eligible to receive one of the 50 author-signed books you need to be signed up AND have your full mailing address stored in your MarketingProfs member profile (so we know where to send your book).

If you signed up for any of the earlier segments of the Book Club, you're already in the database (so you need not sign up again—and, yes, you're still eligible for a free book).

Free book recipients are chosen randomly. Newcomers should hurry up and sign up; the free book will be sent to recipients early next week, so you have until Friday, October 12, 5 pm PST, to join.

2. Free Bonus

Leading social marketer, author, and blogger Nedra Kline Weinreich—who has worked with nonprofits and public agencies in the US and internationally to promote social change—has generously compiled a special 20-page pdf: "A Quick Guide to Changing the World."

Nedra outlines what social marketing is (and what it isn't), details the social marketing mix, gives a review of Robin Hood Marketing and features a bevy of social marketing resources spanning blogs, Web sites, and online publications.

3. Group Review for the book will start Tuesday, November 13

You have five weeks to read the book.

* * *

I'll close with a few words from Katya Andresen:

I'm aquiver with the honor of Robin Hood Marketing being part of the MarketingProfs Book Club, and I look forward to a lively conversation with this very smart group about stealing corporate savvy for good causes everywhere!

And although I hope you get a free book, even if you don't please do participate; at $16.47 for the hardcover (an e-book version is also available), this book is a "steal" for all the smart strategies it imparts.

Disclaimer: Neither CK nor MarketingProfs is in any way retained by any author or publisher to promote any book or make any profit from the sale thereof. This book club is for the marketing community (we just get to learn alongside you fine folks).

Helpful Links

  • Have questions about the Book Club? We have answers here.
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  • Want to see our previous segments? Just click on these links to review featured books for Round 1, Round 2 and Round 3.

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Christina "CK" Kerley is a strategist, speaker, and trainer on innovation through mobile and smart technologies ("The Internet of Things"). Access her e-books and videos.

Twitter: @CKsays