The Clean and Green Club, May 2017

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Shel Horowitz’s Clean and Green Marketing Tip, May 2017
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This Month’s Tip: Why I Threw Away This Letter

The fund appeal above is from a group I’ve supported often in the past. It’s a group that does great work. But I got only as far as the salutation before I knew it was going straight into the recycle bin. I stopped to scan it so I could share it with you, and then off it went into the mighty blue bin.

Why? Because I’ve made a pledge not to respond to manipulative marketing, and I consider this manipulative. If you’ve been reading this newsletter, you know I’ve been calling for honesty in marketing for many years. And whenever someone markets to me in a way I don’t consider honest, my wallet stays securely in my pocket.

I would not have objected to a salutation of Dear Dina (my wife’s first name). But when a mass mailing uses a font that looks like handwriting to cross out Dear Friend and change it to Dina, I feel insulted. Clearly, this is an attempt to make this think a human being has been involved in the change.

I’ve received fund letters from local charities where the generic salutation was replaced with our names—but those are typically done by hand and signed by someone we actually know. And yes, I give those letters more careful consideration, and usually give something. In other words, this technique works when done correctly. There’s nothing manipulative about that. A real person has gone through the list, selected people in his or her circle, and personalized those letters.

But doing this on an entire mass mailing, using a handwriting font—that’s deception, pure and simple. We do not know the president of this organization. We’ve supported this group in the past, but I don’t like being tricked into making a contribution. So instead of giving some bucks, I’m sharing this with you.

In case you’re wondering, I checked the envelope. The stamp was presorted first class, an in-between option that’s cheaper than regular first class but more expensive than bulk mail, and requires the same sort of pre-processing that third-class bulk mail does. You can’t easily hand-edit a letter in a presort mailing. In other words, the odds are 99 to 1 that it was not hand-corrected.

NOTE: If you’re wondering why I’m sharing a letter dated last November, it’s because that’s when I wrote this article. I often work several months ahead with the main articles and sometimes the book reviews. This didn’t feel so time-sensitive but I needed to bump it up.
New on the Blog
What Role Can Nonstrategic Mass Movements Play in Social Change?

Why “Popularity Contest” Surveys are Useless

40 Years Ago Today, We Changed the World (five part series beginning and linking from each installment to the next

What I Told the DT Administration: Business Case for Paris Accord
Hear and Meet Shel
The debut of my brand new talk, How Social Entrepreneurs Can Thrive in a Trumpian World, was a webinar put on by Green America last month (my fourth for them). Catch the replay at

Karina Crooks interviews me on the Business Code Podcast: :

  • What mangrove trees can teach engineers
  • Why “coopetition” works
  • What will social entrepreneurship look like 20 years from now
  • How a seamstress and an electrician separately changed the world, three decades apart
  • How to create a successful mass movement

I missed Book Expo America last year after attending every one since 1997. But it’s back in NYC and my daughter is NOT getting married the following week (as she did in 2016), so I will be attending (May 30-June 2). Contact me if you’d like to meet for coffee.

Proud to be a speaker at Marc Guberti’s Content Marketing Success Summit, June 6-17. Other speakers include Ray Edwards, Ana Hoffman, and Jay Papasan. Take a look at the whole program at — or jump directly to the All-Access Pass s you can listen anytime from now to forever:

The Web Bender, Jack Humphrey, and JV Queen Gina Gaudio-Graves
interview me on Leverage Masters Radio Tuesday, June 27, noon ET/ 9 a.m. PT. Listen by calling 646-478-0823, or listen live online at , or later on replay at

Order your copy of Shel’s newest book, Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the World

Learn how the business world can profit while solving hunger, poverty, war, and catastrophic climate change (hint: they’re all based in resource conflicts). Endorsed by Chicken Soup’s Jack Canfield, business blogger and bestselling author Seth Godin, and many others. Find out more and order from several major booksellers (or get autographed and inscribed copies directly from me).
Download a free sampler with several excerpts, the complete Table of Contents and Index, and all the endorsements.
Another Recommended BookFrom Dictatorship to Democracy
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From Dictatorship to Democracy: A Conceptual Framework for Liberation by Gene Sharp (The New Press, 2012)

Social change—eliminating such evils as hunger, poverty, war, and catastrophic climate change—has been at the core of my work for more than four decades. Long before I started wrestling with the idea of harnessing the business community to achieve these big goals through profitable products and services back in the early 2000s, I devoted significant volunteer time to making a better world.

And now that the government of my own country, the United States, is taking significant steps backward, I will occasionally step out beyond the business world and find inspiration and information from completely different channels.

This month’s book review is one of those. Gene Sharp is the preeminent applied nonviolence theorist in the US today. I first discovered his work in the early 1980s and read all the way through his very dense, three-part Politics of Nonviolent Action back then, after hearing him speak.

So I was excited to find a much shorter and more readable distillation of his work that I feel comfortable recommending here. It’s only 138 pages, but it may shift your thinking about how to not just achieve social change but actually overthrow dictators. In fact, Sharp has been cited as an influence by nonviolent warriors around the world, including the Arab Spring movement and the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, among others.

While some agents of change see them as points on a continuum, Sharp makes a clear distinction between nonviolent and violent struggles:

  • Strategic nonviolent methods—which use not just visible protests but many tactics involving withdrawal of cooperation from the regime—tend to work better and faster: “Withdrawal of support is…the major required action to disintegrate a dictatorship.”
  • They create sympathy among the populace, while violent struggles create alienation and anger toward the agents of change
  • They play to the strengths of the protestors, while violent tactics play to the government’s strength (since the government is always better armed and usually better trained in fighting)
  • They create decentralized movements and alternative governance structures that spread leadership skills much more widely—and this becomes key when planning for and setting up the replacement government
  • They generate a peace based on freedom and justice, and not on repression

Sharp has a strong preference for deeply strategic campaigns, and notes that while tactics might shift during repression, the overall strategy should be carefully nurtured; the repression is designed to get the movement to abandon its successful strategies, and thus is a sign of victory (pp. 90-91). And if the populace is willing to endure repression, repression or the threat of it will not longer be enough to prop up the dictatorship (pp. 106-107).

He suggests starting with small, low-risk campaigns that lead to relatively easy victories, celebrating them and then expanding the demands. And he provides some excellent strategy checklists, such as seven positive characteristics of successful nonviolent political defiance (p. 44) and eight factors to consider when preparing to take power (pp. 84-86). He even looks at how to win over the military in ways that don’t foster a coup d’état (pp. 100-101), and how to defeat a coup if one happens (pp. 117-118).

And he notes the importance of being prepared in the event of either rapid or slow-moving victory (p. 111)—something I learned the hard way when Save the Mountain, a movement I’d started—achieved its goals very quickly and had no second stream of activity to take up the energy; our organization, which could have played a role in many other campaigns, simply withered away. Expanding out to the level of ending a repressive government, if the activists are not prepared to create a government, someone else will step into the vacuum, with potentially disastrous consequences for freedom.

Successful nonviolent regime change will be more permanent and well accepted if it takes seriously the charge of protecting the rights of its citizens, including its minorities. Sharp points out (p. 122) that following the victory, the citizens are now well-schooled in how to bring down governments, will be resilient and resistant against future attempts to grab power at the expense of citizens, and willing to struggle together to achieve a free and just society.

The book concludes with a list of 198 nonviolent tactics grouped into six broad categories:

  1. Economic noncooperation: boycotts (6 subcategories)
  2. Nonviolent protest and persuasion (10 sub-categories)
  3. Social noncooperation (3 subcategories)
  4. Economic noncooperation: boycotts (6 subcategories)
  5. Political noncooperation: strikes (7 subcategories)
  6. Nonviolent intervention (5 subcategories)

Even if your current organizing has much more modest goals than regime change, this book will give you a solid grounding in theory and many practical tools. Highly recommended.

Listen to the Best Interview I’ve Ever Done
Kymm Nelsen of the Conscious Leadership Podcast managed to pull more from me than anyone else has ever done. In 51 minutes, we covered so much that I list 17 separate points on my interviews page —and that was not a complete list. It’s one of three shows I’ve added to that page. Visit the page to scan the list and note what to listen for—and of course to click over and read it.

And watch this space for links to interviews by Internet marketer Willie Crawford, PR queen Annie Jennings’ Elite Wire, Lisa Faulkner of Game Changers, Ali Salman of Escape the 9 to 5 Grind, and Karina Cooke of the Business Code Podcast.

Recent Interviews & Guest Articles: 

Shel’s done 20 podcasts recently, ranging from 5 minutes to a full hour. Click here to see descriptions and replay links.
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About Shel & This Newsletter

As a green and social change business profitability/marketing consultant and copywriter…award-winning author of ten books…international speaker and trainer, blogger, syndicated columnist – Shel Horowitz shows how green, ethical, and socially conscious businesses can actually be *more* profitable than your less-green, less-socially-aware competitors. His award-winning 8th book Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green: Winning Strategies to Improve Your Profits and Your Planet was a category bestseller for at least 34 months (and is now available exclusively through Shel), his newest book, Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the World, has already won two awards and is endorsed by Jack Canfield and Seth Godin. Shel also helps authors/ publishers, small businesses, and organizations to market effectively, and turns unpublished writers into well-published authors.

Shel Horowitz’s consulting firm, Going Beyond Sustainability, is the first business ever to earn Green America’s rigorous Gold Certification as a leading green company. He’s an International Platform Association Certified Speaker and was inducted into the National Environmental Hall of Fame in 2011.

He began publishing his monthly newsletter all the way back in 1997, making it one of the oldest marketing e-zines (it’s changed names a few times along the way).

“As always, some of the links in this newsletter earn commissions—because I believe in the products and services enough to promote them (I get asked to endorse lots of other programs I don’t share with you, because I don’t find them worthy).”
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2 Comments so far »

  1. Neil Brown said,

    Wrote on May 15, 2017 @ 4:07 pm

    Mr. Horowitz:

    Just a quick “Thank you!” for the referral to Gene Sharp’s book, “From Dictatorship to Democracy”. I appreciate any and all referrals to new sources of resistance to the debacle that we seer emerging.

    Keep up the good work and good fight.

    Best regards,

    Neil Brown

  2. Shlomo12241956 said,

    Wrote on November 16, 2017 @ 5:28 pm

    Thank you, Neil! I discovered Sharp’s work around 1981 and have looked for opportunities to share it. Glad you found it useful.

    Also happy to see that you’re based in NC (I know of Hendersonville pretty much only as the birthplace of The Mother Earth News). The Resistance NEEDS people in the South. You might find my wife/daughter/son-in-law’s weekly actions useful, and certainly the people in Congress from NC need to hear regularly from people who don’t approve of what’s happening in Washington.

    It’s also always good to meet another marketer.

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