Skip to main content

Cause Marketing Summarized in Six Words

Author and venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki famously has his 10/20/30 Rule of Powerpoint. It goes like this: When you’re making a pitch, your Powerpoint should have no more than 10 slides, take less than 20 minutes to present, and no font should be smaller than 30 points.

In homage to Kawasaki, I’m going to suggest that you be able to sum up your cause marketing campaign in just six words.

Why six words? It’s enough to do the job, but not enough to obfuscate.

Here’s proof.

Last year this time Rachel Ferschleiser and Larry Smith released their book Not Quite What I was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure. They lead with a tale about Ernest Hemingway who was once challenged to write a book in six words. He responded: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

There’s an awful lot of pathos in those six words. But then we’re talking about Papa Hemingway (seen above), a literary legend who specialized in compact fiction.

Ferschleiser and Smith published many more of these evocative and diminutive tales following a contest on Twitter.

Here’s a select few:

“Danced in fields of infinite possibilities.”

Deepak Chopra


“Brought it to a boil, often.”

Mario Batali


And, two personal favorites…


“Found true love after nine months.”

Jody Smith


“Wasn’t born a redhead; fixed that.”

Andie Grace

Here’s my challenge to you cause marketers: develop a description of your campaign that comprises six words [or less!]. You’ll find the discipline imposed by just six words will bring not only brevity, but clarity. 

I’m not talking about writing a headline here. Headlines are meant to tease you into the text that follows. Six-word stories tell complete truth.

Here’s my version for Yoplait’s lid campaign for Susan G. Komen for the Cure:

“Lick Yoplait lid. Send in. Gloat.”

Or for (RED).

“Help stop HIV. Buy like Bono.”

What about you? Do you have a six-word story that describes your cause marketing efforts?

Comment below or email me at aldenkeene @ gmail . com.


Popular posts from this blog

The Alden Keene Cause Marketing Stock Index Dramatically Outperforms Other Indices

There are stock indexes galore; the Dow, S&P 500, the NASDAQ Composite, the Wilshire 5000, the FTSE, and hundreds more. But how would an index of the stocks of companies that do a meaningful amount of cause marketing perform compared to those well-known indexes? Pretty well, as it turns out.

I first floated the idea of a stock index that would track companies that do cause marketing back in 2009. I tried to figure out Yahoo Pipes so that I could put the feed right into this blog. But alas sometimes the geek gene does fall pretty far from the tree.

So I talked to programmers to see if I could find someone who could do the same, but it was always more than I was willing to pay.

Finally, last week I hired a MBA student to do it all in a spreadsheet, and what do you know but that over the last 15 years a basket of 25 cause marketing stocks dramatically outperforms the Dow, the S&P 500, the NASDAQ Composite, and the Wilshire 5000.

The index, which I call the Alden Keene Cause Market…

Pimping for Constant Contact

OK, not pimping really. More like a gentle noodge to nonprofits and the companies that love them that it’s time to start email marketing.

I was invited to a local presentation on email marketing from Constant Contact, the Waltham, Massachusetts email marketing outfit whose target market is small businesses and nonprofits.

They offer a cause-related marketing campaign called Care4Kids meant to benefit children’s causes. Constant Contact customers are invited to nominate worthy 501(c)(3) children’s charities to receive a free account along with the training to create an effective email campaign.

Non children’s charities are probably still eligible for charity discounts. If you’re outside the United States you might be able to induce Constant Contact to consider your cause. Alternately, you could suggest a similar program to email marketing vendors in your home country.

It goes without saying… I hope… that every nonprofit needs an email marketing component. Email marketing is a good deal lik…

An Interview with Cause-Related Marketing Pioneer Jerry Welsh

Jerry Welsh is the closest thing cause marketing has to a father.
In 1983 after a number of regional cause-related marketing efforts, Welsh, who was then executive vice president of worldwide marketing and communications at American Express looked out his window in lower Manhattan at the Statue of Liberty. The Statue was then undergoing a major refurnishing, and in a flash Welsh determined to undertake the first modern national cause marketing campaign.
I say modern because almost 100 years before in January 1885, the Statue of Liberty was sitting around in crates in New York warehouses because the organization building the pedestal ran out of money. And so Joseph Pulitzer, the publisher of the newspaper called The World, proposed a very grassroots solution reminiscent in its own way to Welsh’s cause-related marketing.
Pulitzer ran an editorial promising he would print the name of everyone who donated even a penny. Sure enough pennies, along with dimes and nickels, quarters and dollars, …