Helping Charities is a Form of Spam? Or Just Great Marketing?

Donating to a charity or sponsoring an event is one of the safest ways to buy a link, but getting them to use and recommend your product is a far more effective approach to marketing. Why? Passion is more important than PageRank.

Charities Can Help You Market Your Stuff Cheaply

Email Spam Problem.
  • Some charities want to change the world, but they are trying to do so on a few thousand dollars a month. To them every cent helps.
  • Many charities are blatant spammers. Just donate to a dozen and see how many of them harass you for more money. The percentage will be well north of 50%.
  • People who come across the charity typically already have an affinity to it, or were recommended to the charity by a person with an affinity to it. Connecting to a quality non-profit connects you to that affinity and passion.
  • The people who think negatively about the charity have so many other (real or imaginary) things to complain about that they likely won't even have time to rant about you working with them.
  • The incremental cost of manufacturing many products (especially software or information) is dropping to ~ $0.
  • The cost of marketing such products and services is rising exponentially as markets saturate.

Recent Examples of Donations

Today I got an email about an SEO firm providing free SEO services to charities, Search Engine Land posted about Google giving charities free Google Checkout buttons on their Google ads, Google is giving away $10,000,000 to push Android, and Google recently pushed Gmail through a Threadless contest. Google uses contests and charities to market their services, are you?

Personal Relevancy

Types of Spam Varieties.

To the end consumer, a commercial message is not considered spam if the offer is relevant to their desires. Targeting is why search is so profitable.

Even pages that Google engineers classify as spam may have a 20% + conversion rate for the right search queries. Some of the spam pages have better conversion rates than the "quality" pages do.

How Long Can You Keep Selling Your Current Product?

The key to making your message relevant is forging the right partnerships to get the mindshare and distribution needed to become a category default.

Markets evolve. Eventually Google or Yahoo or eBay or someone who makes money from another part of the value chain will give away something similar to what you sell. When they do, do you have enough mindshare to keep charging for it?

Increasing Content Quality

Carnival Copy.

Google is starting to push for higher content quality, and they are willing to lose revenue to do so. Some people fight decreasing relevancy by throwing more ads in the content - only to become more irrelevant. Carnival copy is no way to win.

The solution is better information quality, better formatting, and better partnerships. And this giving does not have to be to a large charity or rock star. You can do it everyday with the people you interact with and get the same effect. A few links, comments, mentions, and emails add up over time. Give and thou shalt receive.

Published: November 17, 2007 by Aaron Wall in marketing


November 17, 2007 - 2:47am


Your last sentence caught my eye. "Thou shalt" sounded very Biblical to me, so I search for a few key words and came up with this quote from the Bible.

"It is more blessed to give than to receive." Acts 20:35.

It may be what you had in mind, or you may have meant exactly what you wrote.

The question is do we give, so that we will get what we want or are we giving because it is loving, natural, needed by the recipient, we are able to and we enjoy the giving and expect nothing in return?

The purpose and motive is key to the effectiveness and power of giving.

Giving "support" and giving to get links are two entirely separate motives even though the activities may be directly connected.

Otherwise it is an indirect form of purchase.

There are times when the right thing for the wrong reason is still the right thing. This may be one of them.

November 17, 2007 - 2:56am

Reciprocity happens. I think the end motivation for giving is not relevant so long as you at least believe in the causes you chose to support. That belief is important for two reasons

  1. Many times you will get nothing back. And that is fine. Karma ebbs and flows, but is operates like a numbers game. There is no universal scorecard, but stuff averages out over time, and along the way you get some great deals.
  2. If you help push what you are passionate about, you will be attracted to some of the best causes (before others). In return for exposing others to great ideas, that will open up opportunities for you ... even if that was not the goal.
Igor The Troll
November 17, 2007 - 1:31pm

Aaron, helping anyone is good, its good Charma and will come back to you directly or inderectly.

Buttom line, it just makes you feel good when you help someone.

November 17, 2007 - 5:10pm

We should be good selling our product for a good long time but it certainly isn't getting easier.

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