Cause Marketing At It’s Finest

I have been inspired by my friend Colin Lewis and his unfailingly generous spirit. I “met” Colin on LinkedIn, we continued to chat on Twitter, and eventually video skyped. I was quite intrigued with what Colin was doing, which was creating a product that incorporated his own passion for learning into a really cool business product called Wisdom Notes (

What initially intrigued me was that Colin took time to read and re-read some really interesting literary works and then distilled his readings into a 6-8 page document that basically gave me the “cliff notes.” Wow! I was able to read his Wisdom Notes in a short amount of time and get the gist of some truly great books that I would never have the time to read myself. I was hooked.

But then it got even better! Colin, who resides in Poland, had a special passion for helping children who live in orphanages in Poland. He decided recently that he wanted to set a goal to raise $1 Million US Dollars to support the Chiva Foundation, who is committed to “to helping underprivileged children grow up in a safe, loving environment where they are also educated in life skills, arts, music and sport.” Did I already say wow!? Well … wow. Colin is donating every bit of the $45 annual subscription fee to his cause – that is just simply inspirational.

So, how does this tie into guerrilla marketing? Well, all guerrilla marketers know that Cause Marketing is a great way to marry passion to business for the greater good of all. Not everyone will need to do this on the same scale that Colin has done it – but the basic principles apply:
1) Find a cause you are passionate about (helping disadvantaged children, fighting cancer, aiding refugees, you pick…)
2) Find a way to tie your business into the cause – a simple way for most of us is to donate a percentage of our profits to the cause
3) If appropriate, have the cause organization promote the offer
4) Promote the heck out of – tell your friends, ask them to tell their friends

The thing I love about cause marketing is that it brings your business and YOU into harmony and it does that in a way that lets everyone win.

So, what ideas does this inspire?  How can you marry your passion to your business?


Hot Franchise … or Hot Mess?

First of all, let me start by saying that my comments today are not meant to be an indictment of this company in any way. I do not personally know anything about this company other than what is contained in this ad, which appeared in Entrepreneur Magazine recently.

Okay, disclaimer finished. Now, let’s talk about the ad itself.
This ad appeared in a magazine that is read by entrepreneurs or aspiring entrepreneurs – based on that, it is my assumption that “America’s Fastest Growing Franchise” is interested in selling franchises to readers of this publication. So what do we learn from reading this ad? Well, the company name is Jimmy Johns and apparently their subs are “so fast, you’ll freak” and they make “the worlds greatest gourmet sandwiches” and they are “America’s favorite sandwich delivery guys”. Reading further, I also learn that I can order online and that this is a “franchise worth investing in.” Hm. And for good measure, I am bombarded with a few other factoids, such as “Love the Jimmy,” “Jimmylicious” and “Vote for Jimmy.”

Okay, put yourself in the shoes of the reader, and take the leap that you the reader are in the market to buy a franchise. What does this ad tell you that would make you pick up the phone or visit the website? Of all the messages points contained in this ad, only two really address the potential franchisee in any way: the headline proclaiming that this is the country’s fastest growing franchise, and the tiny little line at the bottom saying that it is a franchise worth investing in. Other than that, the message points are are vague and most likely directed more towards people who might eat the sandwich, as opposed to buying the franchise. And, there is nothing in here that is really focused on what the benefit to me, the reader, would be to either buying the franchise or eating the sandwich (unless of course I am interested in freaking out, which is apparently a risk when eating this food!)

So, readers, what do we think? What would you change? How would you guerrilla-market this company more effectively?

Hot Franchise or Hot Mess

Hot Franchise or Hot Mess

Great Guerrilla Marketing Ad

Yes, it has been awhile since I’ve blogged. No excuses. Okay, well, maybe just a couple…my nephew was here for a short visit from Iraq, and that definitely took priority! However, I am back and I’ve got a great ad to share with you.

Guerrilla Marketing Ad So what is so great about this? For starters, how about that headline “What’s In Your Water?” That is classic guerrilla, because it is all about … me!

The opening copy is also all about me – about the safety and health of my family. The mid-banner is a little unnecessary, in my opinion – I am not sure what the point is of blurting out “Microbiology & Chemistry” just when things were going so well.

What could make it even better? I would like to see the same reader-focused approach in the second text block where they are talking about buying or renting a home with a well (and in my neck of the woods, they all have wells!) So, put your guerrilla marketing hat on and tell me how you think this could be stronger. C’mon, what are you waiting for?

No Guerrilla Marketing Here

Continuing on my last post, I have been looking in newspapers and business journals to find examples, good and bad, of how well companies are doing in stating their benefits.  I wish I could say it was evenly divided, but, unfortunately, the majority of what I see out there is very features oriented.  And you know the problem with that, right?  People don’t buy features!  People buy solutions.

Here is an example of an ad that is beautifully executed in terms of the visuals, but misses the mark when it comes to telling the reader what is in it for them.

So, what you have here is a nice list of features … really good features, too.  However, what’s in it for me??  Even the headline is weak.  How about if this company started by telling me that I could save time by using their company as a one-stop-shop?  Who wouldn’t want to save some time?!  How about telling me that I could have all my design (online as well as offline) design needs met under one roof?  How about telling me that telling me that I’d have a team of experts to help create a campaign that would bring me more business?

This company appears to have a very robust offering; it is a shame that they haven’t exercised a little more creativity in telling me all the benefits of using their agency – what’s in it for me?

Take a look at this and think of how you could tell a more compelling story.  Please take a moment to leave your thoughts and comments – I’ve love to hear what you think.

Next time, I’ll share an ad that I think does a great job of telling the story me benefit terms, so stay tuned…

What’s In It For Me? (WIIFM)

A few weeks ago I outed myself for not being as good about developing my own WIIFMs as a good guerrilla should be. That has also made me much more vigilant as I look around at other companies who are busy promoting themselves – sometimes not very effectively.

Now, I won’t mention any names here, but I think you’ll all see someone you know (and hopefully not yourself). I took time to go through my local newspaper this week and read some of the ads. There were so many examples of the Good, the Bad and the Ugly that I almost don’t know where to start!

Here’s one example…
A local retail clothing outlet used all of their ad inches to tell me that they have “Name Brand & Designer Clothing” at 40%-60% off retail, that they were having a sidewalk sale, plus address, phone and hours of business. Very factual. Nothing there that would spur me to action, though; and nothing that creates any sort of personal connection.

How about if that same retailer had headlined their add with something like “Looking for Designer and Name Brand Clothing at Recession Proof prices?” Or, how about “Look like a fashion icon for a fraction of the cost!” Then, how about if they went on to tell me how they are open to 8 PM every night for my convenience? And, what if they told me that I could get all my shopping for me and my kids done with one-stop? (By the way, I don’t have kids, but just suppose…)

My point here is that we must all focus on what is in it for our target audience. A mere recitation of “features” isn’t going to be enough to motivate buyers to take action. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be reviewing some other ads. In the meantime, what do YOU think this store could have done better?

Two Must-Read Blog Posts

I’ve read a couple of great blogs today and wanted to share them with you.  First up was Karen Skidmore’s blog about the “long sales page” (  This is such a rich subject that I could go on for pages about it.  (Don’t worry, I don’t have time today to do that!)  But take a run over and join the conversation.  It seems like most people really don’t like (or even hate) the long sales page – so why do so many online marketers use it?  This is a debate I’ve been having for the last month or so as I struggle to find the right sales page approach for my own online products.  I’m definitely more comfortable with “short and t0-the-point”, but am I missing something?   More on that later.

The second great blog of the day was from Chris Brogan at where he talks about Being Naked.  Yes, if you’ve read some of my past blogs, you know that this is favorite topic of mine.  I loved reading Chris’ thoughts on this and his pearls of wisdom.  When I started blogging last year, I debated and agonized over just how “naked” I should go.  Should I tell people that I had faced a brain tumor?  Would they think I was in some way damaged or not as good as I once was?  Clearly, I decided “the hell with that” and trotted myself out there in all my naked glory.  And, do you know – people actually liked that I shared something that personal.  Some people even went so far as to say I was “brave” (I’m not.)  What’s really been cool, though, is how many great relationships I’ve developed by just being myself.

Yep, big fan of the SHORT sales page and of going naked.

Cause Marketing – Guerrilla Style

It’s funny how the universe works sometimes. A few days ago I answered a question on Linked-in suggesting that the poster might try using some cause marketing activities to promote his organization. Then, out of nowhere, in yesterday’s mail I got a flyer from the local American Red Cross announcing a book signing fundraiser.

 My good friend, author and communications expert Richard Zeoli partnered with the local chapter of a well-known not-for-profit organization for the betterment of both. Richard will be selling his book “Seven Principles of Public Speaking” for $15, $10 of which will be donated directly to the local American Red Cross chapter. This is classic cause marketing.

 This is to organizations partnering with each other so that each benefits in some measurable way from the arrangement. In this case Richard is promoting his book, and raising awareness levels of his credibility both as a speaker and author. At the same time, he is also aligning himself with a well-known and well thought of organization in the local community. The American Red Cross is raising donations as well as awareness. People attending the event walk away with an excellent book and the heartfelt satisfaction of knowing they contributed to a worthy cause. Everyone wins.

 This is such a great example of cause marketing that I wanted to share it with all of you and challenge you to think of ways that you can use cause marketing in your business.