by Katya Andresen

“Wasting precious resources while dealing with social issues ineffectively is immoral,” writes Katya Andreson in her book Robin Hood Marketing: Stealing Corporate Savvy to Sell Just Causes.   

After living and working for seven years with the populations of developing countries, Andreson is now the vice president for marketing with the Network for Good.  Her hope of enabling us, other goodhearted people with causes, to achieve victories without wasting resources, resulted in this social marketing guide for all of us. 

Andreson narrows the rules of savvy marketing to 10, and describes each with vivid examples and practical steps to implementation, leaving us capable of selling environmental justice through the template of a sock ad. 

The heart of Robin Hood Marketing is thinking of our audience as customers rather than converts.  Indeed, Andreson bluntly declares that we need to set aside our cause, since intense focus on the cause – as opposed to focus on actions needed for victory – blurs our ability to convince our audience to act.  After demonstrating how to isolate effective ways to speak to our audience, Andreson illustrates how to develop a message that establishes a connection, guarantees an immediate reward for taking action, and inspires the audience to take the action necessary to achieve our victory.  She validates the application of corporate marketing principles to the marketing of just causes with a seemingly endless supply of evidence of successful social marketing.

The most useful principle is the fourth: Stake a Strong Competitive Position.  Good causes are amalgamated in the minds of our audience.  Andreson explains that it is crucial that we understand our competition and differentiate ourselves via appropriate marketing to find our niche in the marketplace, lest we spend all our time fighting for support. 

Robin Hood Marketing is a must-have for every person with a just cause.  This book serves as both a deep read and quick reference. Its narratives of successful social marketing ventures to be contemplated over a cup of tea fit in between its bulleted key points.  The chronicles of real-life scenarios beg fascinating team-building discussions within nonprofits, while the charts beginning each chapter can quickly transform into the next staff presentation at our organizations, or a pocket-guide for the volunteer.  Andreson writes with urgency, compelling us to abandon time-wasting marketing attempts and move forward with marketing rules that will have results.

Kristin Grabarek