By Michael Heath / selfpublishingUS.com
Cause marketing is a partnership between a for-profit enterprise and a charity where the objective is to benefit both entities. For a decade or more, many authors adopted this tactic to benefit a cause dear to them while at the same time promoting their books. This approach can increase book sales while a charity experiences an effortless gain.
Cause Marketing Does Not Cost, It Pays
Studies show that, all things being equal, people tend to buy a product associated with a good cause as opposed to one that is not. This sentiment is particularly true for younger people who often say they feel good about buying a product that has a social benefit. An example of employing this strategy would be a toilet paper company donating 5 percent of revenues to SaveTheRivers.org. The company benefits by being eco-friendly, an association that increases sales among environmentally conscious consumers. The charitable organization gains financially when it receives contributions from the sale of the company’s toilet paper products. The plan is often not intended to be completely altruistic. More often, the strategy is used believing that associating with a good cause will boost sales so much that the seller will come out ahead even after making the donations.
Authors sometimes add a message to the back of their books that a certain percentage or dollar amount per book will be donated to a specific cause. Some authors have a deep affiliation with a charity or non-profit and will use the cause marketing method to sell more books and donate a portion or all proceeds to a charity. An example of this would be an author publishing a children’s book about the social ill of homelessness, and then giving a portion of the proceeds to a local shelter.
Transparency Puts Buyers’ Minds at Ease
Cause marketing can backfire if people believe you are using a non-profit charity only to enrich yourself. Be specific about the way donations are calculated. Stating “$1.00 of every sale” or “3% of revenues” is much better than the ambiguous “a portion of all sales.” Be transparent by posting the donations made to the charity. Investigate the organization to which you plan to give, as not all have great reputations. Also, contact the charity to discuss your intentions.
Tips for Your Book’s Cause Marketing Strategy
1) Choosing a cause:
Select a single charity – Use a single cause for your books sales. People are more apt to purchase when they understand where the money is going. Declaring that a percentage of each sale goes to the National Women’s Law Center is much better than the very vague “women’s causes.”
Consider a cause relevant to the book title or subject – If your protagonist has brain cancer, you might consider donating to the American Brain Tumor Association.
Local charity – Causes that are not known beyond a specific region will likely not have a wide-reaching effect but can boost book sales dramatically if people in a specific area share your sentiments.
Recognized charity – Using causes that are well-known and easily identified can be highly effective. The March of Dimes and the Boy Scouts of America are two examples of causes people are familiar with and likely would feel inclined to support.
2) Contact the charity:
It is important to speak with an official at the cause with which you intend to associate your book. Ask them for their press kit with logos and appropriate content to share after they grant you permission. Let them know how you plan to distribute the donations and when. NOTE: there might be licensing fees for the non-profit logo, brand, and assets.
3) Identify the charity on your book
This is normally done on the back cover, toward the bottom. List the name of the cause and add their logo if there is one. Mention what the proceeds are (e.g., $1 of every book sold, or 5% of all sales). Include the charity’s website.
If you have a website, mention the charity on a Giving Back page or on the book page. A Giving Back web page should describe why the charity is important to you and share their logo, mission, and website.
5) Social Media Posts
A great advantage to cause marketing is in using it with social media. People who may not normally Like or Share a post about your book because they believe they are only advertising it may be more inclined to do so knowing your work is part of a good cause. The chances of a post going viral increase when people believe the mission has a benevolent component.
Find out what social media your charity is on and Follow/Like them. See if they have a common # (hash tag).
Try to get them to follow your "business" page (they will probably not follow a "person").
Consider creating a couple of posts exclusively about the organization on your social media. Don't forget to # (hash tag) them. Be authentic and talk about why you are mentioning this charity, or comment on something they’ve done or a recent event.
Consider taking an excerpt from your book that is relevant to the charity, and comment on it.
Create one or more graphics of your book and the organization (logo) of the organization alone, and/or of you giving them a check.
Post updates on money sent to the organization.
Consider creating a video discussing your charity.
When executed correctly, a cause marketing partnership can help sell more product, add to the coffers of a good cause, and make buyers feel even better about a purchase. When the initiative works, all parties become part of a classic win/win/win.