Spare Change

making a difference with social marketing
by Nedra Kline Weinreich
I'm coming out of hibernation to say congratulations to my friends John Anderton and Dmitriy Kruglyak, who were featured in an article in today's Wall Street Journal called "Social Networking Comes to Health Care" (WSJ online subscriber access only) [UPDATE: Link goes through to full article now thanks to alternate URL from Emily at Nonprofit Blog Exchange].

John made an appearance in the form of his Second Life avatar Hygeia Philo's picture on the front of the Personal Journal section, and the article highlighted CDC's work in SL (though unfortunately not mentioning John by name).

Dmitriy's Medical Blog Network was highlighted, as well as getting a mention of the Healthcare Blogging Summit he organized and his upcoming social networking venture Trusted.MD. Be sure to keep an eye out for info on the next Healthcare Blogging Summit, slated for April 30, 2007 in Las Vegas.

The article also featured other health organizations using social networking like DailyStrength.org, the American Cancer Society and the Wellness Community.


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12.24.2006



This is an exciting time in the Weinreich household. For the second year in a row, my daughter requested and received a butterfly garden kit for her birthday, and we are waiting for the butterflies to emerge from their chrysalids (not cocoons - that's for moths).

A couple of weeks ago, two containers holding five larvae each arrived. They were tiny black eating machines about the size of a hyphen, feasting on the nutrient medium on the floor of their shared plastic condo. They quickly grew, becoming big fat caterpillars. When each was ready, they hung themselves upside-down (or, ipe-side-down, as my six year old daughter says) from their feet, compacting themselves into short fat Js.

Now here is the amazing part, which I was never able to catch in progress. At the appointed moment, the caterpillar's skin split open and pulled upward, revealing the chrysalid waiting inside, which quickly hardened with exposure to the air. Inside the chrysalid, enzymes digest all the caterpillar tissue except for the tiny beating heart, and create a rich fluid media in which the butterfly cells start to grow. It's not that the caterpillar legs turn into butterfly legs and the caterpillar eyes turn into butterfly eyes; all the essential caterpillarity disappears and is rebuilt into butterfliness. This just blows my mind.

The human process of behavior change and personal growth is not exactly like this. Our species is a little messier. When we change, we retain the essence of who we are. It's unusual for someone to be able to completely remake themselves. And yet, like the caterpillars, we have the potential to change waiting inside us, when we are ready to let it happen.

As we come to the beginning of a new year, let this quiet period leading up to it be a time of contemplation and introspection. Think about what you are proud of from the past year. What did you accomplish? Were you the kind of person you want to be? What do you need to work on so that you will not feel any regrets when this time comes around next year? I'm not just talking about a resolution to lose weight or exercise that starts on January 1st and ends on January 3rd. This is a long-term process of setting goals and working toward them, a la the Happiness Project.

Small steps toward a goal is the best way to do it. If you want to give more to charity, start with picking one organization you feel strongly about, and commit $10 a month to be charged automatically. If you want to be a better parent, commit to spending at least 10-20 minutes more a day per child with your full attention given to him or her (no phones, e-mail, car, TV or newspapers in sight), playing on the floor, sitting and talking, or reading together. If you want to get organized, spend just 15 minutes a day throwing out clutter. Whatever you want to do, figure out how to break it down into smaller, more manageable pieces, or it probably won't happen.

You can't go from being a caterpillar to a butterfly overnight, but you do have the potential to become something more than you are right now. In the coming year, I wish you (and me) the strength to face our own individual challenges and emerge more glorious for it.

Merry Christmas to those of you who are celebrating it, and happy new year to all. I am taking a blogging break for the rest of the year (unless I just can't stay away) and will see you on the other side, along with our new pet butterflies.

Photo Credit: avmaier


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Blogging is an interesting combination of solitariness and community. I sit here by myself in my blogger uniform (pajamas) writing out my thoughts. But once they are posted, readers make comments, send it around to their friends, post their own responses on their blogs, and I do the same for other bloggers. Being part of a community (though virtual, it's still made up of real people) helps keep the act of blogging from being a lonely one and helps me to keep learning and improving what I do.

I'm excited to announce that I've been invited to join the stable of writers at what I think is the ultimate marketing blogger community - the Marketing Profs Daily Fix blog. Some of the best bloggers writing about marketing are there, so I'm humbled to be included. I am a longtime reader of the DF and have been part of the comment conversation there enough times that it already feels like home. I'll be bringing the social marketing perspective, with the hope of inspiring commercial marketers to use their powers for good. I'm also hoping that my presence there will help raise the visibility of the field of social marketing (and help to combat the ubiquitous "social marketing" word virus). I invite you to come check it out and become involved in the warm and welcoming community there.

My first post at the Daily Fix is up today, and discusses the positive response/backlash to my Marketing to Introverts post last week. There seemed to be two camps - one in which introverts were saying "Wow! You really understand me!" and the other in which introverts were saying "No! Don't give away all our secrets!" I was even called a "damn traitor" for publishing that article (written in all seriousness). I seem to have struck a nerve.

******
In other news today, I can announce the winners of the Made to Stick gift packs: Mike Klein, Sandra Renshaw, Mark Woodman, Sara Brandspigel, Rob Chudzik, Angela Adamoli, Amy Krane, Shawn McCormick and Carol Kirschner. Congratulations to you, and thank you to everyone for taking the time to enter. Even if you did not win, you need to get this book anyways!
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Random House, the publishers of the new book Made to Stick, which I reviewed a few weeks ago, loves social marketers. They understand that if anyone needs to know how to make their messages stick, it's social marketers, who are trying to help people become healthier, increase their well-being and improve our society.

I happen to agree, which is why I've been helping Random House get the book out into the greater social marketing community. It's your turn to get in on the action, because Random House has given me a stack of copies of Made to Stick, along with a bunch of fun promo items with the book's six principles of stickiness (Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotional, Stories) emblazoned on them -- including mouse pads, magnets, post-it notes and sticky bookmark tabs.

I am going to be giving away "Made to Stick" gift packs to nine lucky Spare Change readers. All you need to do is send me an email at "weinreich at social-marketing.com" (substitute the @ for at) with the words "Made to Stick" in the title before midnight PST on this Wednesday 12/20/06. I will randomly pick nine winners and will contact you if you win for your mailing address (sorry, US addresses only please - I'm covering shipping myself).

You do not need to write anything in the body of the email, but if you would like to provide some comments to me about what you like about the blog or what topics you would like to see covered in the future, I would greatly appreciate getting your feedback.

I'm excited about this opportunity to give out holiday gifts to my readers. But even if you are not chosen for the giveaway, this is still a book that you will want to have on your bookshelf and use extensively. You can pre-order it at Amazon and start off the new year with a new framework for making change happen. At the very least, check out the Heath Brothers' just-born Made to Stick blog, which opens with a post on how the concept of calories has been presented to the public in a very non-sticky way and provides suggestions for how to better get the idea across.


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Reading a post on the Businesspundit blog about networking for introverts (via lifehack), I had a major flash of recognition with the first paragraph:
I have a problem. I'm an introvert. I'm not shy. I'm not afraid of being in public. But I am horrible at chit-chat and gossip. If I spend an evening at a social function with people I don't know or don't like, I get home and feel like I've spent all day at the ocean. It's that fighting-the-waves and drained-by-the-sun kind of tired. I would rather spend four hours with my head stapled to the carpet. I would be more comfortable that way.
That's me. Absolutely. I do enjoy meeting new people and spending time with friends, but the minutiae of socializing does not come naturally to me. If you're an extrovert, you are probably thinking, "What is her problem? You just talk. About anything. It's easy."

I have found that introverts and extroverts have a Mars-Venus thing going on. It's hard for an extrovert to get inside the mind of an introvert and understand where they are coming from. This article by Jonathan Rauch explains it better than I ever could (and might help you understand the introverts in your life better). We're just hard-wired differently.

This got me to thinking about whether marketers might need to take a different approach to be more effective in reaching introverts, who make up 25-40% of the general population (but 60% of the gifted population!). That percentage is large enough to think about taking the needs of introverts into account in your marketing, even if you are not trying to specifically reach engineers, writers, researchers, lawyers, programmers, college faculty or Star Trek fans, all of whom are more likely to be introverts.

Here are some tips for marketing to introverts (or just dealing with my people effectively):
  • Use e-mail, blogs, message boards and other asynchronous online methods of communicating that allow an introvert to take time to think about what to say, then write and edit a thoughtful response.
  • Be aware when you are conducting research, such as focus groups or interviews, that introverts think carefully about what they are going to say before it comes out of their mouths. If you do not give them enough time to think about their answer, you will miss out on their insights. Use a minimum 5-second rule of silence after asking a question or between other people's questions to give the introverts a chance to respond before you move on.
  • Do not expect an immediate purchase or change to be made once you have laid out your case. Introverts need time to process information before making a decision, and will wait until we are sure before letting you know. Don't rush us or put us on the spot.
  • Realize that introverts may have a few close friends, but not necessarily an extensive social network. We may not be comfortable recommending your product to others we don't know well, but be very happy to have something to talk about with our best friends. You won't see many introverts with thousands of "friends" on MySpace.
  • Introverts hate small talk. We say what we mean and we mean what we say. And don't make us say it again. And that means that you should also get to the point as quickly as possible.
  • Introverts love to read, so give us written information we can look over and go back to as we think about it.
  • Introverts may not tell you what we are thinking. Our innermost thoughts are private and not shared easily. Don't assume that we agree with you just because we are being quiet. But if you give us an opportunity to give you asynchronous feedback once we've had a chance to think things over, we can provide lots of thoughtful comments.
  • Introverts are great in one-on-one interactions, but we often clam up in group settings. If a lot of people are talking, we may not be able to get a word in edgewise, or we may feel that what we have to say does not add enough new or interesting content to the conversation and is not worth the effort of speaking up. We don't like to interrupt others who are talking, and we don't like to be interrupted.
  • We like to operate independently, not as part of a team. Don't force us to interact or compete with others in order to participate in your program.
  • Introverts prefer to deal with people we already have a relationship with. Take the time to get to know us and let us get to know you. A blog is an excellent way for an introvert to become familiar with you over time and feel comfortable interacting with you.
  • If you have a product or behavior you want an introvert to try out, let us go off and do it by ourselves rather than in front of someone. We will want to explore and make mistakes with it on our own before being comfortable with someone watching us.
  • We learn best by watching and mentally rehearsing. Provide modeling of the skills we need to develop to be successful.
  • Honor our need for privacy and personal space. Give us the option whether to self-identify as being part of your group or program - we might not want to reveal our participation.
  • Because introverts are more internally motivated, we do not succumb easily to peer pressure or following trends. The fact that everyone else is doing something doesn't necessarily make us want to do it.
I hope I didn't come off as a curmudgeon, and I hope I am not making too many generalizations from my own experience assuming that most introverts feel the same way. If you are an introvert, please let me know if these tips ring true for you.

Most marketers and sales people are extroverts. Don't forget about us introverts and you will be much more successful.

Happy Hanukkah to my Jewish readers! First candle is tonight.


UPDATE (12/18/06): Welcome to my thousands of Reddit visitors and fellow introverts! If you enjoyed this article, please consider donating to my ongoing campaign to raise money to fight modern-day slavery through the American Anti-Slavery Group (see sidebar widget on right). Give someone the gift of freedom this holiday season. Thanks!


Photo Credit: Introspectrum

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Monday's Wall Street Journal had an article about how some companies are trying to reduce the stigma around the use of flexible work schedules by their female employees through campaigns aggressively pitching flextime to men. It's somewhat counterintuitive, but it seems to be working.

Some employers are trying to overcome a perceived stigma on flexible work schedules -- often viewed as a concession to women -- by redefining the issue as a quality-of-life concern for everyone. The approach is gaining traction, especially in the male-dominated financial-services sector, where employers have long struggled to retain and promote women.

Among the techniques companies are testing: highlighting successful men who have tapped flexible work arrangements; encouraging more employees to work from home part of the time; and promoting alternative career paths.

Ernst & Young displayed a 9-foot poster in Times Square as part of a campaign to spotlight successful men who value their personal lives. Lehman Brothers is presenting their initiative encouraging employees to occasionally work from home as contingency planning for a disaster. But ultimately the goal is to destigmatize flex schedules to retain women and recruit younger workers by making the issue gender neutral.

The article includes several tips from human resource experts for removing the stigma, which could also be applied to social marketing programs for issues like AIDS, disability and mental illness (bold is theirs, nonbolded is mine):
  • Use men in promotional materials for flexible-work options - Social marketers should consider using people who are NOT the primary target audience in their imagery to make it seem acceptable to everyone. For example, in a campaign aimed at encouraging people with disabilities to become a volunteer, use pictures of people with different ability levels volunteering so it is shown as something that every person could and should do.

  • Make a business case for telecommuting, such as planning for a disaster - Identify other acceptable reasons for participating in the program or taking an action besides the one associated with the stigma. So in promoting the new HPV vaccine, emphasize the fact that it will protect a teenager from cervical cancer rather than from an STD. Or a college-based mental health screening day (obviously not billed as such) might be trying most to reach students at risk of depression but also reach out to people who are stressed out, not sleeping well, or having problems concentrating on their studies.

  • Customize career paths for all workers, and encourage alternative paths - Show people in different audience segments, including the one you are most trying to reach, how they can benefit from the program or action. Let them figure out themselves what most applies to their situation. Rather than having nature trails specifically labelled as being for people with disabilities (and which trails are appropriate for which kind of disability), highlight the level of accessibility of each trail for everyone to apply to their own situation, including people with strollers or the elderly - e.g., whether it is paved, has uneven surfaces, guide ropes, stairs, ramps, etc.

  • Offer concierge services that simplify life, such as emergency day care - As always, make it easy for people to take the action you are promoting. If they have to go out of their way to do it, it probably won't happen. An article (subscriber access only) on the front page of today's Wall Street Journal discusses a proposal to screen all pregnant women for the genital herpes virus. Instead of having a pregnant woman bring herself in to get checked, or letting the doctor decide whether someone is at risk or not, it would just be part of the routine prenatal testing she is doing anyways, and the fact that everyone has to have it reduces any stigma to getting tested for herpes.
Though it seems strange to think about directing your marketing efforts to other audiences besides the one you most want to reach, sometimes you have to take a detour in order to get to your destination.


Photo credit: Soferet

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12.12.2006

links for 2006-12-12
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12.11.2006




I really hate the word "meme." It's so abstract and academic that you would think it couldn't be any fun at all. But this is the term that's used to describe these amusing games of tag that go around among bloggers where you answer questions about yourself and then choose others to do the same.

Ann Handley of the Marketing Profs Daily Fix blog (if you haven't checked it out yet, you really should - it's a great community of marketers) tagged me for the latest blogger meme, in which I must share five things you didn't know about me. I usually balk at sharing these kinds of things (there's a REASON I have kept them hidden), but since she gave me such a nice compliment, here goes:
  1. I can touch my tongue to my nose. Not a very useful talent, but my mom's cousin is the only other person I've met who can do it too.

  2. My Daddy wrestled alligators as a boy growing up in Miami, raced cars and boats, and worked in the Dolphinarium assisting the vets with the sea mammals. My great great grand uncle (or something like that) on his side was Jim Younger of the Younger Brothers, who rode in Jesse James' gang.

  3. I sued the Girl Scouts (and won) when I was about 8. It's a long story, but basically had to do with negligence on their part when I got third degree burns covering my leg at a Girl Scout overnight camp. I had the same burn doctor as Richard Pryor. Got the payout when I turned 18, went on a nice trip to Europe and bought a car. Amazingly, they did not put me on their blacklist for life and let my daughter sign up to be a Brownie.

  4. I wanted to be a doctor all throughout high school and was pre-med in college (until I discovered that with public health I could reach more people and prevent medical problems from starting in the first place). When I was 16, I spent the summer with my uncle and aunt in Atlanta and worked at a medical clinic where my uncle's friend was a doctor. An ER doc there took me under his wing and taught me all kinds of things like how EKGs work, how to stitch up a cut, how to take a blood pressure, and he let me try drawing blood on him (he was amazingly brave, especially when I accidentally squirted him with his own blood from the syringe).

  5. I have a very strange range of musical tastes. Though the first record I ever bought with my own money was "Donny and Marie's Greatest Hits," once I discovered Rush and Pink Floyd I became a closet rocker (none of my friends at the time listened to anything but top 40 and new wave). But my music collection includes everything from Air Supply to Judas Priest to Beethoven (the second movement of the 7th symphony makes me cry every time!) to Ella Fitzgerald to Hank Williams Jr. to Duran Duran to the Bobs to Pearl Jam to Beck and pretty much everything in between.
So there you have it. I have opened the vault. Now it's time to pass on the fun. I am tagging:
  1. Beth Kanter - because she shares so much knowledge, but I don't know that much about her
  2. Katya Andresen - because her blog is fun to read, and she seems to have done a lot of interesting things in the past
  3. John Anderton - because I keep learning fascinating tidbits about him, and I'm sure he has much more he hasn't revealed (besides, he's just getting his new blog off the ground and needs a little push to post)
  4. Toby Bloomberg - because I would like to get to know her better
  5. Craig Lefebvre - because he's the one who got me started in blogging
Tag - you're it!


photo credit: Margie Mueller
(Isn't this a great picture? I love the negative space between the two shadows - it looks like an upside-down woman throwing her head back laughing.)


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I hope you will consider joining me in Washington DC this March, when I will be offering another Social Marketing University training. This is a great introduction to using social marketing to bring about health and social change.

This time I have expanded it to 2-1/2 days, with the last half-day focusing on Next Generation Social Marketing. If you are a social marketer who already knows the basics and are interested in expanding your bag of tricks to include newer marketing methods using social media and other technologies -- many of the things I write about on this blog -- you can register just for the last day.

Here's all the important information:

Social Marketing University
March 28-30, 2007
Cafritz Conference Center
The George Washington University

Next Generation Social Marketing Seminar
March 30, 2007, 8:30 am - 12:00 pm
included in registration for SMU
OR register separately for seminar only

Complete information about the agenda and topics to be covered, hotel reservations, registration fees and what past participants have said can be found on the Social Marketing University information page.

The training is co-sponsored by the Public Health Communication & Marketing Program at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services. Ed Maibach, veteran social marketer and director of the new program, will be speaking at the training, along with other guest speakers to be announced.

If you register before January 31st, you will receive $100 off the regular price. There are also discounts for additional participants coming from the same organization (send your team to be trained!) and a student discount. Seats are limited, so reserve your spot soon.

And, as a special bonus just for my blog readers, use this discount code to get an additional $50 off the registration cost of the full Social Marketing University tuition: SMU50.

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Here is a spectacular view (click link to zoom) of our sun setting over Mars. I was going to make a point about social marketing and taking a different view of the problem you are trying to address. But in the end I decided to shut up and let you enjoy the picture. Sometimes you just have to stop and smell the rovers.

via Wil Wheaton
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12.08.2006

Katya's post this morning about Network for Good's new charity badge widget inspired me to create one for the nonprofit that's nearest and dearest to my heart, the American Anti-Slavery Group. If you check out the right side of this blog, you'll see what the badge looks like.

These charity badges allow you to upload photos and write the text, link to a video and fundraise for a nonprofit -- either your own or one you care about. If you don't have a blog or website, you can put it in your e-mail signature. It all goes through Network for Good, so you can feel confident that the donations will get to where they are supposed to go. And you can track in real time how much you have raised, so your donors get immediate feedback that they are making a difference.

The reason why I think these will be so successful is that they are personalized. It's not just another random plea for charity, but a direct request from someone you know, who can give their specific reasons for supporting the cause. This is similar to the idea behind Buttons of Hope, which employs the slightly lower tech medium of buttons that you can wear to personalize and inspire fundraising.

The one problem I had with the widget is that it kept cutting off my text in the middle without letting me know exactly how many characters I could use, so I had to use trial and error to get it to fit.

So, here's my more extended plug for the American Anti-Slavery Group, a group I've been involved with for a while. Did you know that, by conservative estimates, over 27 million children, women and men around the world are enslaved? They are essentially "owned" by another person. AASG provides direct aid to free slaves and help them reclaim their lives, conducts advocacy, and educates the public about the fact that slavery is not history. What better gift could you give someone than the gift of freedom? If you're trying to figure out what to get for the person on your list who has everything, think about making a donation in their honor to help a person who has nothing. Give it a click and then make your own badge for your favorite nonprofit.


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12.07.2006

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Google has figured out a way to get us to paint their fence while they lie under a tree eating an apple. While doing a search on Google Images, I saw a box at the bottom of the page with the text "Want to improve Google Image Search? Try Google Image Labeler." Out of curiosity, I clicked the link and found out that it is a feature that "allows you to label random images to help improve the quality of Google's image search results."



Sounds boring, doesn't it? Here's the twist: They've turned it into an online collaborative game with a random partner. You are paired with someone else who is also online, and you have 90 seconds to go through as many images as you can in that time period. You list as many relevant labels as you can for each picture until both partners come up with the same label for a picture, earning points based on your mutual performance. You then move on to the next image until time runs out. At the end of the 90 seconds, you can look at what words the other person used to describe the picture and what word you matched on.



I tried it out and found it to be oddly addictive. It's partly a "what the heck is that thing?", partly a test of your mental thesaurus, and partly a Family Feud-style "what would someone else say it is?" It's instructive to see that what might seem obvious to you is not always the way that someone else would describe something. For example, while I was focusing on describing the woman in the foreground of the picture, my partner was describing the street scene around her. And a close-up of a map of Manhattan was described by my partner as a "graph" before he/she decided to pass. But for the most part, it was amazing how quickly my various partners and I converged.



This approach was quite clever on Google's part. By turning this into a game and allowing people to accumulate points over time, this repetitive and boring task is turned into a challenging and fun test of your mental skills. As those of you with kids know, this kind of tactic can be quite motivating ("Who can put away more blocks in one minute? Ready, go!").



Is there any way you can engage your audience in your issue by turning it into a game rather than a chore that must be done? The Movember campaign in Australia and New Zealand is an example of slipping in some health education while participants have fun growing a mustache during the month of November to raise money and awareness of male health issues. Giving your kids the Dance Dance Revolution game might provide them with the benefit of exercise without them even realizing that they are doing more than having fun. If you can figure out a way to get people to take an important action, but in the context of having fun, you will be much more successful than if it is posed as "a good thing to do."



And then we can kick back and relax while they do all the work and have fun doing it!





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12.06.2006

Here is Brian Sack's take on NYC's trans fat ban at The Banterist:

I thought it would be just another lonely night nursing my Guinness in my smoke-free watering hole - until he caught my eye. By "he" I mean New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The mayor was glowing like a guardian angel sent from heaven to protect us all from everything. Our eyes locked. Within seconds I found him next to me, making sure I was properly seated on the stool so that I didn't fall off and hurt myself.

I was humbled by his compassion and love as he checked the soles of my shoes to see that they weren't perilously worn. He looked up at me and smiled.

"Thank you for banning trans-fats," I said, saluting him with a flavorless French fry.

"My pleasure," said the mayor as he set about blunting the bar's dangerously sharp cocktail toothpicks.

He fixed a steely gaze on another patron's hamburger and snapped his fingers. Immediately the City Council and Board of Health appeared behind him.

"I want all hamburgers to be cooked for 85 minutes," said the mayor, "only then can we make every burger in this great city safe. God help us."

His entourage nodded in unison and immediately passed legislation. I was impressed by his incredible power and Bono-like concern for us New Yorkers...

Read the rest here.


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I just received a fundraising letter that blew me away with its opening line. It says:

Dear Friends,



In our world of "I's" -- ipods, ibooks, itunes, imacs... I wants -- the Zimmer Children's Museum and its outreach programs teach children I care...I value...I support...I lead...I give...


Someone hire that copywriter! Fundraising is not generally within my purview, so I'm not going to use this post to teach you how to do it. Luckily, Katya has a great post from a couple of weeks ago on exactly this -- how to write an effective opening line for a fundraising letter. She says:

Remember, an A+ letter grabs you from the first line by speaking to your values and presenting you with a compelling reason to act that is relevant to those values.

Grade: A+





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A few interesting awareness campaigns are going on in Second Life that I was going to write about yesterday, but Beth did a good job of reporting on them before I had a chance to do it so I'll just direct you to her post.

Photo credit: Hamlet Au



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Well, they did it. The New York City Board of Health this afternoon voted to ban trans fats from all foods in restaurants throughout the city. Is this a good thing, or is it a case where coercion through policy is inappropriate? As a social marketer who wants people to become healthier, this would seem to be a no-brainer, yet I have mixed feelings about this development. This reminds me of Stephen Dann's comment on the Social Marketing listserv a while back, which Craig recounted on his blog:
Government driven social marketing can turn around and change the law to make our alternative behaviour mandatory. We can attempt to use social marketing to gain compliance to our idea, or we can force behaviour through punishment. Switching to legislative enforcement when our social change campaigns fail to take a grip is cheating. It's saying that if you won't play nicely, we'll force you to play.
This would not have been possible without the efforts of the anti-smoking forces that paved the way for policy change back in the 90s. I do see a difference, though, between restricting secondhand smoke -- which can affect the health of other people -- and restricting the use of trans fats -- which only affects the eater.

That's not to say that getting restaurants to reduce or eliminate trans fats is not an important and worthy goal. But perhaps a social marketing campaign to restauranteurs, along with various incentives (e.g., tax breaks from the city for trans fat-free establishments) would have been a step to try before treating chefs like criminals.


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12.04.2006

I've just finished reading what I predict will be the most influential marketing book of 2007. I received a prepublication copy of Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, written by brothers Chip and Dan Heath, which will be released in January. It's all about how to create ideas with a lasting impact. The book picks up from where Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point left off, with the idea of the "stickiness" of an innovation making it more likely that it will spread across a population. The Heaths' book tells us how to make our ideas sticky -- in other words, how do you present an idea in a way that leaves a lasting impression?

The book is filled with great anecdotes and examples of sticky ideas (both good and bad): the urban myth about a friend of a friend who wakes up and finds his kidney has been stolen, Subway's campaign featuring Jared, Nordstrom's reputation for customer service, and many more. In fact, a large number of the examples are tailor-made for social marketers, with a health, social or environmental focus -- CSPI's campaign against high-saturated fat movie popcorn, American foreign aid, the Truth campaign, oral rehydration therapy, the Nature Conservancy's campaign to save the Mt. Hamilton Wilderness...

The Brothers Heath have come up with the requisite acronym that conveys the six principles of sticky ideas - SUCCESs. While none of the principles are in and of themselves revelations, it is in the distillation and systemization of the guidelines that the book shines. The principles are:
  1. Simplicity - Boil down the idea to its essential core, so that if the recipient of the message remembers nothing but this one point, they get the idea.
  2. Unexpectedness - Be counterintuitive and use surprise and/or curiosity to grab people's attention.
  3. Concreteness - Make the idea meaningful by explaining it in human and sensory terms rather than as abstract concepts.
  4. Credibility - Provide ways of letting people test the idea out for themselves to prove its credentials.
  5. Emotions - Get people to care about your idea by making them feel a strong emotion about themselves or someone else.
  6. Stories - Use stories to provide a vicarious experience, illustrate a point or inspire an action.
All of these are, of course, common sense. However, what often gets in our way of utilizing these principles is what they call the "Curse of Knowledge." When we know so much about an issue, our knowledge can get in our way of expressing ourselves clearly because it becomes hard to imagine what it was like not to know it. We use terms that we say so often to our peers that we assume that everyone knows what they mean. And when we try to distill our knowledge into concise bullet points, the people we are talking to miss out on the stories and experiences that led to us learning those lessons, which make them so obvious to us but lacking in interest to others.

This is why all marketers -- especially social marketers -- must get a copy of Made to Stick when it comes out next month. The stories and case studies used to illustrate the points above make the ideas come alive and help to make the ideas in the book stick. The book is well-written, engaging and readable. In fact, I'm going to go back and reread the book with an eye toward incorporating its ideas into my own trainings.

Read an excerpt from the book and then order it as a gift for yourself for the new year.

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This great website promoting lactose tolerance is a tongue-in-cheek play on the typical public service announcement. Though its "corporate underwriter" is Nesquik, they have the PSA format and cause lingo down. Make sure you don't miss the hilarious video celebrating this "grass-roots movement committed to promoting tolerance for milk in all its flavors and forms." While nonprofits are usually trying to emulate their better-funded for-profit neighbors in their marketing, it's a nice change to see that social marketing is also considered hip enough to use to attract the attention of young people.



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12.03.2006

links for 2006-12-03
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Here are a few semi-related interesting tidbits related to online entertainment and games:
  • Today I met Fabio Gratton and Jeff Rohwer of Incendia Health Studios. They are doing a lot of interesting work at the intersection of health, entertainment and the internet. Their Live With It animated series of webisodes on living with HIV is excellent, they are building an advocacy community around breast cancer to let women share their stories, they've created an online interactive television network around Hepatitis B and are working on several other similar projects. They have an interesting business model of building the content and then finding sponsors (usually pharma companies).
  • The CDC is not just in Second Life, but also in Whyville, a virtual world for children and teens ages 8-15. In support of National Influenza Vaccination Week, the CDC joined forces with Whyville in a campaign to immunize its citizens against the virtual "Why-Flu." This simulated version of influenza is transmitted by contact with other infected avatars and results in uncontrolled sneezing that interrupts the ability to chat as well as ugly red boils on the avatar's face. By purchasing a virtual vaccination, Whyville citizens are protected from this problem and learn about the importance of early vaccinations in the process. (via Ypulse)
  • Second Life and other online role-playing games like World of Warcraft and the Sims can be used to create mini-movies called machinima. Over at the GamePolitics blog, there is a post on using machinima for social change. While he focuses on issues like politics and historical events, machinima can also be used to create short videos on health issues or medical simulations (for example, this Alcoholics Anonymous meets the Matrix video or this heart murmur simulation).
  • Finally, the Games for Health website has just made 12 presentations from their September conference available on their website, with more to come including a video from the conference.
That's it for now. I'll just leave you with the little teaser that I'm planning the next Social Marketing University training, which will take place in Washington, DC on March 28-30, 2007 (with the last half-day focusing on Next Generation Social Marketing -- those who are already seasoned social marketers will be able to register just for that day). More details will be available soon, and if you would like to receive an announcement of this and future trainings, just send an e-mail to training@social-marketing.com.


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