8 Cause Marketing Survival Rules for a Zombie World

I love zombie films. I can't get enough of them, especially this time of year when the shadows from the leafless trees take on ominous shapes. Yikes!

While you may not share my enthusiasm for the semi-dead, you might agree with this: most of us are surrounded by these mute, will-less, dumb, sometimes evil brutes everyday.

Our zombies are the people and situations we face daily that must be avoided at all cost if we are to be successful cause marketers.

It's scary stuff. Fortunately, there's help thanks to my extensive zombie cinematic background and training.

One of my favorite zombie movies is Zombieland, which has an extensive list of rules for survival, which are articulated by the main character of the film Columbus.

Eight of these rules are critical to your cause marketing survival. Ignore them at your own peril.

1. Cardio. The calorically-challenged don't do well with zombies because they can't outrun them. Your cause marketing program will also meet a terrible end if you're not prepared to go the distance and persevere year after year. Cause marketing success doesn't happen overnight. It requires endurance. Don't let your program fall prey to the zombies just because it wasn't up to the challenge of going long.

2. Double Tap. What a waste to die at the hands of a zombie just because you were lazy and didn't shoot them twice. Just like it would be a waste to give up on your cause marketing program after the first try because a company said no, or because the first campaign had mixed or poor results. Get used to companies turning you down and expect some programs to fail. Like W. C. Fields said: Try, and if you fail, try again. Then quit. No sense being a fool about it. But try again! Don't give into the zombies that want you to quit after one try.

3. Kill with Efficiency. Why fumble with reloading a gun when a nice, heavy toilet cover is handy? Don't focus on the preferred or cool way to get the job done. Focus on executing. Everyone wants to do online cause marketing, location-based smartphone promotions, national programs and trendy partnerships with cool retailers like Apple and The Gap. But what's at hand is easy to execute pinup and percentage-of-sale programs with local retailers. They're not sexy, but they get the job done (raising money, increasing awareness), which is just what zombies hate.

4. Beware of Bathrooms. Confining yourself to a small space in a, well, compromising position is not the best way to fend off a zombie. A nonprofit putting 100% of their time into cause marketing is like sticking yourself in a bathroom. It's small, limiting and doesn't get you anywhere. Cause marketing is a niche fundraising and marketing strategy that is best practiced by nonprofits that are eager to take their brand and fundraising in a new direction. But getting caught up in cause marketing and forgetting your bread and butter programs is letting your zombie get the best of you.

5. Get a Kickass Partner. Loners just don't last very long in zombie films. Sigh. Doing cause marketing by yourself can be equally short-lived. I have my kickass partner in Joanna MacDonald. Thankfully, I also have Holt, Jessica and Ashley. We all complement each other really well and we have each other's backs. We're a kickass team and zombies hate that.

6. Check the Back Seat. It happens all the time in zombie movies: someone gets killed in their car because they didn't check the back seat. Stupid way to go. To make sure you don't meet the same end, check your back seat for these nasty surprises.

  • A 40-slide PowerPoint that no one wants to see.
  • A bureaucrat from your office or board that will spend a whole meeting with a company blathering about your nonprofit's mission and not saying a word about the marketing opportunity for both partners.
  • A sell sheet with levels that forces you squeeze a prospect into a category instead of coming up with a custom plan that works for both of you.

7. Opportunity knocks. We learn in the film that opportunities in life just don't fall into our hands. You still have to get off your butt and open the door! That's how I feel about Halloween and even zombie events for fundraising and cause marketing. They are great opportunities if cause marketers will only open the door! The zombies on the other side are there to help you!

8. God Bless Rednecks. Because they have all the guns and ammo you need kill zombies! While other types of fundraising--like major gifts--are blue-blooded, cause marketing is red-blooded because the money comes from regular people like you and me. A few coins in a canister. A buck at the register. Supporters of cause marketing are the nameless masses behind all those pinups and cause products that raise millions for good causes every year.

I don't know who they are--they're certainly not rednecks--but God bless them. In this zombie world of ours, they are the ultimate kickass partner.

This post today is dedicated to my friend and kickass partner John Haydon, the founder of InboundZombie!