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Caring Enough to Do Something About It

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by Ashley Gordon, Founder, Mockingbird Publishing

Ashley Gordon

The publishing and book selling industry has a long history of commitment to promoting literacy through book donations. But with the evolution of social enterprise and cause marketing, the industry is expanding its efforts in creative and often dramatic ways.

For publishers looking to build new markets, connect directly with readers, to attract and retain talent, and drive direct and partner sales, cause marketing partnerships offer a best-case scenario. The most successful campaigns benefit from multiple aspects of a company’s sales and marketing efforts, branding, author relations, and even offer opportunities to test market products and experiment with new workflows. In addition, studies increasingly indicate consumers base their purchase decisions on the reputation and social engagement of the brand. This is particularly true of the growing millennial demographic.

In the US market, cause sponsorships are expected to increase from $1.92 billion in 2015 to $2 billion in 2016. Consumers have embraced the idea of doing well by doing good: 71 percent of consumers have participated in a point-of-sale donation and 90 percent of consumers say they would switch brands to those associated with a cause, given comparable price and quality. Six out of 10 millennials say a sense of purpose is the reason they chose to work for their current employer, and a majority of all employees say work that allows them to contribute beneficial change to the world is essential to their happiness.

From authors embracing a charity, like Patrick Ness and his Twitter campaign to raise more than $1 million for Syrian refugees through Save the Children, the Scholastic Books and We Need Diverse Books marketing partnership to highlight books by minority authors to young readers and teachers, to Chronicle Books’ #GiveBooks social media campaign with charity First Book to drive reader engagement and trigger book donations, forward-thinking publishers and authors are recognizing the importance of cause marketing in establishing their identity with consumers.

The book publishing and retailing industry is uniquely positioned to take advantage of this market shift. Books are a prime vehicle to promote the causes that matter most to authors, employees, corporate stakeholders, and, most importantly, to readers. By ensuring social enterprise and cause marketing campaigns are an integral part of the strategic plan, the book industry makes good on the promise of stronger companies and a better world.

Ashley Gordon is founder of Mockingbird Publishing, which creates book projects in partnership with nonprofit organizations. A 20-year veteran of the publishing industry, with business development roles at Ingram Content Group, SharedBook, and Sprout, she consults in the areas of digital strategy and social enterprise. She is a member of the Advisory Board for Library for All, and is an active supporter of No Kid Hungry and Every Mother Counts.

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