I've just finished reading Katya Andresen
's new book Robin Hood Marketing: Stealing Corporate Savvy to Sell Just Causes
. She sent it to me a while ago but I've only been able to read it in 5-10 minute chunks as I could fit it in and finally finished it when I had jury duty this week. Not that it was hard to get through - in fact, just the opposite, but I wanted to be able to give a thoughtful review to you, my loyal readers.
Robin Hood Marketing is an engaging, well-written introduction to social marketing concepts for nonprofits (though she does not often use the term "social marketing"). Katya comes from the worlds of both journalism and nonprofit marketing, and this comes through as she obviously knows her audience and craft well. The book avoids marketing jargon, and she conveys marketing concepts in an easy to understand way.
The strengths of this book lie in her clear writing and extensive use of real-life examples to illustrate the concepts she discusses. At the end of each chapter, she also includes interviews with people like Bill Novelli (currently head of AARP
and a social marketing pioneer), Sharyn Sutton (currently at AIR
), Andy Goodman (who wrote Why Bad Ads Happen to Good Causes
) and many more. She also lays out a content summary at the beginning of each chapter and highlights key points in text boxes throughout.
This is not a how-to book, but it should be the first step for nonprofits who want to understand how to apply marketing concepts to their work. It will give you a good overview of the lens through which you need to filter your messages and materials. While she mentions research as an important step, there is not much guidance as to how to actually do it (though happily she does refer people to my book
!). Rather than dwelling on the ideal situation, in which a nonprofit would have money to spend on conducting audience research, she accepts the reality that many nonprofits have tiny budgets and have to do with whatever information they are able to get about their audiences, and she works from there.
The Robin Hood
metaphor that serves as the foundation of the book, while cute, does get stretched thin in places, with references to Sherwood Forest and arrows and merry men. And Katya ends up bringing in other heroic metaphors as well (e.g., the Three Musketeers
and the Magnificent Seven
). But it was just a minor distraction from the narrative.
Katya's own "Magnificent Seven" lays out seven principles of a successful marketing campaign:
- A campaign should be designed by beginning with the desired actions.
- A campaign must CRAM from the perspective of the target audience. (CRAM refers to how you design a message -- it must create a sense of personal Connection, offer a key benefit or Reward, promote an Action and be Memorable).
- A campaign must be inescapable.
- A campaign should stake out a unique competitive position.
- A campaign should be emblematic of the cause and extend the brand.
- A campaign must be flexible.
- A campaign should be tested many times.
I also found the "five laws of branding" made in the interview with marketing strategist Raphael Bemporad to be useful. They are:
- The Law of the Word - own a word in the mind of your audience that differentiates your organization from all others.
- The Law of Focus - identify the one thing you do better than anyone else and focus your brand on that unique value proposition.
- The Law of Leadership - be the first to develop a unique approach or service.
- The Law of Authenticity - the brand should truly reflect who you are and what you do.
- The Law of Consistency - communicate the brand clearly and consistently over time.
Katya sent copies of the book to other bloggers as well, so you can read other reviews by Beth Kanter
, Donor Power Blog
, Marc Sirkin
, and Diva Marketing
, and you can also read an excerpt
from the book.
And now the promised "Handy-Dandy Guide to Social Marketing Books," to help you figure out which social marketing book might be right for your needs, since there are now quite a few on the market. Bear in mind that these are my impressions, some of which were formed from reading these books quite a while ago and might not have necessarily "aged" well. And of course, you may completely disagree with my personal assessment of a particular book, which is your right. I do not claim that this is a comprehensive list -- it's just what I happen to have on my own bookshelf. The links go directly to Amazon.com in case you want to buy any of them.Robin Hood Marketing: Stealing Corporate Savvy to Sell Just Causes
by Katya Andresen
Great introduction for nonprofits and others who want to understand how to apply marketing concepts to their causes.Marketing Social Change: Changing Behavior to Promote Health, Social Development, and the Environment
by Alan Andreasen
In-depth descriptions of what social marketing is, and considerations at each phase of the process. Somewhat academic, and may be especially good for commercial marketers who are looking to apply their skills to social marketing issues. I have not yet had a chance to read his newest book, Social Marketing in the 21st Century
. Social Marketing: Improving the Quality of Life
by Philip Kotler, Ned Roberto and Nancy Lee
This is an ideal book to use as an undergraduate textbook. Words are defined, there are issues for discussion at the end of each chapter, it is laid out in a very simple, easy to read format. The book is also overflowing with pictures, examples and case studies.Marketing Public Health: Strategies to Promote Social Change
by Michael Siegel and Lynne Doner
This might work as a graduate school textbook. It is somewhat academic and dry, though quite comprehensive, and the small typeface unfortunately does not help with readability.Hands-On Social Marketing: A Step-by-Step Guide
by Nedra Kline Weinreich (yours truly)
This book picks up where I think the other books leave off, providing nonprofits and public agencies with detailed guidance on how to develop and implement a social marketing program themselves. The book includes worksheets, resource lists and step-by-step instructions on how to do research, create a strategy and move successfully through each phase of the social marketing process. (okay, enough self-promotion)Making Health Communication Programs Work (pdf)
by the National Cancer Institute
Known as the "Pink Bible" by those working in health communication, this book is a classic and provides an approach for planning and implementing health communication efforts (though not specifically social marketing). Because it is a free download--though you definitely get more than you pay for--this book works for those without any marketing budget but who want to learn how to create an effective communication program.
So there you have it. Let me know if you agree with my descriptions, disagree, have other books to add or have other thoughts.
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