I met Katya Andresen, a social marketing expert and well respected nonprofit leader at the Netsquared Conference. She offered me a review copy of her recently published book Robin Hood Marketing: Stealing Corporate Savvy to Sell Just Causes. It arrived at my home office before I even got off the red eye!
So, what's this book about? As Katya herself explains in a May interview with fellow Blogher Nonprofit Contributing Editor Britt Bravo
"It lays out ten sound principles (I call them "Robin Hood Rules") behind some of the most successful marketing campaigns in history, and shows how anyone can use them to advance their cause by leaps and bounds. I wrote the book to demystify marketing so everyone from a PTA mom to a nonprofit executive could use marketing to accomplish more good in the world."
This book is definitely a must-have on the nonprofit professional's bookshelf. It's not just for the marketing director, but it is also a essential reading for those who run small nonprofits and have to do or oversee "everything" or board members.
When I met Katya, we discovered that we both had a personal connection to Cambodia. She worked as a journalist there in the 1990s. In fact, it was a Cambodian experience that gave her one of the "ah ha" moments that helped crystalize some insights that lead to the book -- an encounter with a giant, smiling condom!
A journalist, she was covering a World AIDS Day event in Phnom Penh. She saw how the giant condom-shaped balloon emblazoned with the words "Number One" was attracting attention and scores of people were grabbing up free samples of condoms. This was a time when people were not abstaining from risky sexual behavior or lining up to use condoms.
As she writes in the introduction of her book, "For once, I heard no doom-filled message of fear or shame. In its place was an appealing sense of pride and fun." As it turned out the giant condom was part of a business-minded marketing approach by a nonprofit organization, Population Services International (PSI). She also observed first-hand the entire marketing machinery in action as she accompanied PSI staff selling highly discounted, but high quality condoms to brothels, a segment identified as critical to halting the spread of AIDS.
She points out that PSI condoms are now available in virtually every brothel in Cambodia, helped by a law that has since mandated condom use in sex establishments. She also notes that PSI also sells abstinence and fidelity with the same results approach. PSI has done everything from creating soap operas to campaigning with religious leaders and celebrities to convince people to change their behavior. (For more about Soap Operas and Social Change - see Nedra Weinreich's article here.)
This story, like the many many examples in her book illustrate the power of the combination of good intentions and customer-centered marketing. She offers ten principles on how to do just that.
Each principle is illustrated with a range of examples implemented by large corporations to shoestring nonprofit organizations, and the entire book is organized around a familiar narrative story (Robin Hood). I appreciated how the book is designed for quick scanning as well as slower deeper reading. For busy professionals (like me) who may not the luxury of free time, each principle/chapter gives you a summary in the beginning as well as a content diagram, followed by the detailed text.
The heart of Robin Hood Marketing is to focus on our audiences and not just our mission and our organization and to get people to do something specific. The point she makes is that we need to think of our audience as customers rather than converts to our cause - we don't need to strive to for a shared worldview, but rather get people to take action.
Having just finished immersing myself in Andy Goodman's book "Why Bad Presentations Happen To Good Causes" and attempting to put into practice everything I learned from his recent N-TEN Webinar training, I was particularly keen to read chapters related to honing and delivering your message. Katya gives us an acronym - CRAM - Messages should establish a Connection, promise a Reward, inspire Action, and stick in Memory. Read how the NpMarketing Blog is applying this concept to marketing the LLS for its Team in Training program.
The books also talks a lot about the techniques for 2-way communication and building relationships, "At the end of the day the personal connection, not the grand concept, grabs our attention." Diva Marketing Blog asks, "Why aren't more nonprofits blogging?" Perhaps this books provides some good reasons why an organization would set up a blog.
I see a strong connection between Robin Hood Marketing and what Tara Hunt defines as "PinkoMarketing." (See video presentation from netsquared conference here.)
Photos from Jossey-Bass