Book Review: Cause Marketing for Dummies

Reviewed by Jennifer Rockne

Book by Joe Waters & Joanna McDonald (Wiley / 2011)

Cause marketing is different than sponsorship.  As this book points out, cause marketing is a partnership between a non-profit and for-profit organization for mutual gain.  Think of the many companies that sport pink ribbons or otherwise color themselves pink to support Komen for the Cure.  If you think going pink is mere altruism, think again.  Breast cancer has touched the lives of rapidly increasing numbers of people.  These companies are banking on them wanting to put their money toward finding a cure, including buying pink or beribboned products or supporting businesses that align with Komen.

As with all the “Dummies” books, the chapters are filled with brief chunks of text logically broken into readily identifiable snippets.  The short segments and casual dialogue make the book and its content a quick read – and subsequent reference.

The authors are comprehensive in their approach to their topic – you learn what cause marketing is and isn’t, how to organize a program and approach potential partners, gain useful resources, receive numerous examples (both good and bad), and get a brief introduction to location-based marketing (the title of another in the Dummies series – our review coming soon.)

I was, however, annoyed by the constant reference to “pin-ups” as a success story.  These are the point-of-sale tags customers may be sold for a nominal cost, then sign – the tags are posted around the store to show support for a cause.  (One of the authors designed several of these programs for prominent organizations and their partners, and the references came across more as touting his acumen than as meriting pin-ups as an option).  I don’t deny the success of these campaigns, and certainly we can learn from success stories, but I hoped to get more depth on using new technology rather than so much on this tried-and-true standard.  But plenty of newer-tech ideas, such as offering POS donations with credit or debit card purchases, integrating social media and how location-based services such as QR codes and check-ins via foursquare, etc., may make POS campaigns more powerful  also are included in the book.

Nevertheless, whether the ideas have stood time’s test or are emergent, the authors introduce many and address newer technologies that get the brain working on ideas that may, for example, help an IBA raise funds in partnership with business members.

The reviewer, Jennifer Rockne, is the Co-Director of the American Independent Business Alliance.

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