The difference between “cause marketing” and “philanthropy”

Or, I guess I should really call this posting “The little gray area between cause marketing and philanthropy.”   

Cause marketing, basically, refers to a mutually beneficial relationship between a for-profit business and a non-profit organization.  The term more broadly encompasses any marketing endeavors involving charitable causes.  Philanthropy, on the other hand, simply involves a corporate donation to a non-profit charitable organization (usually tax deductible).

I mention this because in my mind Outskirts Press has always been a philanthropic organization that is also involved in cause marketing.  I’m not sure I agree that the two terms are mutually exclusive, or perhaps, if they are, that simply demonstrates a lack of effort by the P.R. department of the philanthropic organization.  

For example, you can donate thousands of dollars in books to the Children’s hospital — as Outskirts Press has done in the past through its involvement with the Children’s Literacy and Education Foundation — and that can be both a  philanthropic act (a pure corporate donation), and can also fall within the definition of “cause marketing” once you mention the donation on a blog or among your social networks, since ostensibly, your company is marketing the good will among your clients or customers that results from charitable donations. 

In our case we would typically write and distribute a press release about the donation.  And we would take (and subsequently circulate across our social networks) a photograph of the red wheelbarrow full of books in front of the Children’s Hospital logo. 

You see, philanthropy AND cause marketing. I have other examples I’ll discuss next, including our donations to the Colorado Humanities, and our upcoming Facebook Anthology – the royalties for which go to a charitable organization.

Self Publishing Videos For Your YouTube Channel

Once you have your YouTube channel set up the way you like it, the challenging part for most self-publishing writers (or anybody, really) is to add content to the channel — i.e., videos.    It doesn’t have to be difficult. There are five basic ways anybody can add video content to their channel for the purposes of book promotion, company promotion, self promotion, and search engine optimization. I will discuss these methods over the next five posts.

The first method is to have a video actually created by a company. This is also the most expensive method. Outskirts Press advertises on television networks like History Channel, The Learning Channel, National Geographic, HGTV, and the Biography Channel.  So we produced a television commercial for the purposes of television advertising.   Due to tracking purposes (the procedure by which we determine the source of our new clients/authors), we didn’t add our television commercial to YouTube for quite a while.  But, once the initial television campaign was complete, we added the video to our YouTube channel and now our website visitors can also see our “As seen on TV” spot from our website:

If producing a television commercial/video is not an option, there are four other methods for adding content to your YouTube channel and I’ll discuss those options next…

Getting emails through spam filters

At Outskirts Press we contact our authors quite often via email.  Many authors thank us for the motivational and inspirational emails we send when they are still writing their books.  Once authors begin publishing with us, we keep them up to date on their progress throughout the process via email.  And once our authors have published, Diamond and Pearl packages include 2 years of marketing follow-up via the Marketing C.O.A.C.H.

So, you could say that successful email communication is a cornerstone of our business.  And we’re not alone.  Email marketing is one of the most successful (from an ROI point of view) promotional tactics a business can adopt.  And nowadays, more companies are using email as a standard element of their customer service procedures as well.

But sending a “successful” email is not without its hurdles.  Frankly, I don’t even understand all the complications, but recently we did experience an interesting example of Yahoo’s spam algorithm that I would like to share.  This involved our recent email newsletter congratulating Irv Sternberg for his most recent book, The Persian Project, being recognized as our “Best Book” award winner.

The first paragraph of that email originally said this, and this is version that appeared on our blog and on our website:

“In December 2009, Outskirts Press announced a monthly promotion in which we were seeking the best manuscript to publish for the author without cost. Once published, the best book would receive a refund equal to 110% of the publishing fee. That’s right! Free publication and an “advance” of sorts, just like a traditional publishing contract (only with us, our authors still kept all their rights).

A lot of manuscripts were submitted and a lot of books were published. We reviewed the published books among all those December manuscripts and have decided upon what we feel is the best all-around publication.”

Those two paragraphs prevented the email newsletter from making it through Yahoo’s spam filter. In order to “get through” Yahoo’s spam filter, the content had to be changed to:

“In December 2009, Outskirts Press sought the best manuscript to publish for the one talented author without cost.  Once published, the author of the best book would receive a refund equal to his publishing package price, plus a bit extra.  That’s right! Outskirts Press picked up the publishing cost and paid an “advance” of sorts, just like a traditional publishing contract (only with us, our authors still kept all their rights).

A lot of manuscripts were submitted and a lot of books were published. We reviewed the published books among all those December manuscripts and have decided upon what we feel is the best.”

Notice the subtle differences:

  • Yahoo’s spam filter wouldn’t allow us to “announce a monthly promotion” so instead we “sought the best manuscript.”
  • The author couldn’t “receive a refund equal to 110% of the publishing fee” and instead he received “a refund equal to his publishing package price, plus a bit extra.”
  • Strangely, we couldn’t call it the “best all-around publication” and could only refer to it as “the best.”

In a later section of the same newsletter, we referred to Mr. Sternberg as a “consummate professional, the best selling author of four award-winning novels, and a tenacious marketer.”  However, in order to get through the spam filter, we had to change that summary to: “consummate professional and a tenacious marketer.”

Are there conclusions to draw from this? Certainly.  Yahoo’s algorithm frowns upon verbiage used commonly in spam, such as phrases like “best selling” and “monthly promotion” and almost any number that is followed by a percentage sign (%).

Another consideration of email marketing is the daunting task of delivering an HTML formatted email with images to an email population in which the majority–most unknowingly–have image downloading turned “off.”  But that’s a topic for another time…

Distribute press releases

Once you have an award or some form of “recognition” to promote, either about your book or your service/product/company, you should distribute a press release electronically through the Internet.  Not only do distributed press releases that contain links back to your author or company website often appear high in organic search results in their own right, but they also help with optimizing your author or company website, too.

There are a number of ways to distribute press releases, ranging in cost from $0 -$800 or more. As with everything, you get what you pay for.  The free press release distribution services are appealing for self-published authors on a budget because they increase the exposure of your book, although not to the extent of a paid-for service like prweb.com.  

The free press release services may also be appealing for your company PR distribution needs, although you may find yourself shying away from the free services due to an extreme case of Adsensiphobia (TM).

Adsensiphobia is experienced by marketing people when they are faced with the dilemma of directing potential customers to a website on which some of their competitors may be advertising (either via banner ads or contextual  text ads in a Google AdSense box).  Free PR distribution services are notorious for this, as are MySpace, YouTube, and many other “Web 2.0” websites.   I fear a day will come when Twitter decides it needs to monetize its traffic via AdSense, as well.  

Ultimately, however, altering your marketing initiatives due to adsensiphobia is self-defeating and, in the long run, pointless. Thanks to XML, even distributing your press release through paid distribution services like PRWeb doesn’t protect you, since some AdSense-specific websites exist solely to pick-up the XML feed from PRWeb AND display contextual AdSense links (which probably include links to your competitors).  If your book or company has proven to be profitable for AdSense advertisers, there is no getting around it; and by refraining from distributing to every possible outlet solely because of adsensiphobia, you are really only shooting yourself in the foot.

If you are marketing a company and experiencing adsensiphobia, ask yourself this… is it realistic to believe that your potential customers have never heard of your competitors?   People don’t drink Perrier because they are unaware of tap water. They drink Perrier because Perrier has established its value to its customers.

Seek awards and/or recognition for your book or company

Another tactic both the book promoter and company marketer can do is seek awards. “Contests and Awards” are an industry onto itself, and there are awards and contests for just about everything under the sun, like “happiest employees,” “best places to work,” “best benefits,” “most profitable,” “minority-owned,” “largest headcount increase,” “best website design,” “CEO of the year,” “entrepreneur of the year,” “best invention,” “best product,” etc., etc… The list goes on and on.

The options are just as endless for published writers seeking book awards.  From widely recognized and established contests like the Writer’s Digest International Self-Published Book Awards to local contests being held for members of small writing groups, published authors have a daunting list of contests and awards to consider pursuing.

Adding insult to injury, most of the contests have entry fees, so not only is it a matter of time, there is also a financial investment one is making when choosing to pursue these recognition programs.  For companies, the fee is often nominal, but for an author faced with thousands of contests each costing between $10 – $400 each, it becomes important to separate the wheat from the chaff.  

For example, in an effort to help our authors successfully and conveniently pursue valuable awards and contests, Outskirts Press offers an optional Book Award Submission Marketing package that includes all the details associated with submitting books to 6 widely recognized and established book awards, including the Writer’s Digest award mentioned above, the ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year award, and 4 more.   As I often say, this isn’t something an author can’t do himself — double negative alert! — but it matters not whether published authors take advantage of marketing services offered by their respective publishers, or seek award entry independently; the important point is that authors do it, one way or the other.

For a convenient way to search for awards or contests to enter, visit www.awardsync.com

Winning an award gives you “something to say” and when it comes to marketing a book or a company, having “something to say” is worth its weight in gold, as we’ll discuss next time…

Speaking of HARO and Haiti

In my last post I praised an online service called Help a Reporter, and no sooner had I pushed the “Publish” button on that post when I was contacted by a New York reporter for my comments on the self-publishing industry who also found me — or I found her — thanks to HARO.

Naturally, I have a lot of things to say on the topic of self-publishing, and was only too happy to provide her with some publishing success stories when she asked.  Like, most recently, Mr. Craig Juntunen, author of Both Ends Burning: My Story of Adopting Three Children from Haiti. 

In the wake of the catastrophe in Haiti, Mr. Juntunen’s book has led to numerous radio and television interviews, increasing awareness of not only his book, but also his noble efforts at Chances for Children where Mr. Juntunen is the Chairman.

I called Craig yesterday to ask how Outskirts Press could help him.  We weren’t alone.  The NBA basketball team Phoenix Suns were already parterning with Craig and Chances for Children, and Craig alluded to some preliminary interest from both the Oprah and Larry King camps.

Mr. Juntunen published a book with Outskirts Press to share an inspiring message with the world.  He is well on his way and his royalties go toward his cause.   Let’s all support his efforts and the on-going relief efforts by making a donation either at the American Red Cross or through the Chances for Children website.

Help a Reporter Out

Help a Reporter Out at www.helpareporter.com is precisely the kind of site all business-people and authors should know about. Last week I had a great interview with the editor of Celebrity Parent magazine about Adventures in Publishing and Outskirts Press. This lead came entirely from HARO.  In fact, it came from a HARO request I replied to in February of 2009.  Yes,  nearly a year later the editor contacted me for an interview! And what a wonderful and gracious person she was.

What’s the moral of that story? The Internet provides you with the means to cast as many fishing lines as possible into the virtual sea.  You never know when you’re going to get a bite. But, to paraphrase Gretzky’s great quote — one of my favorites in case you can’t tell — you are guaranteed to miss 100% of the fish you don’t go after.