Movember Makes It Happen

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Is this November your Movember? This movement devoted to “changing of the face of men’s health” seeks to grow awareness of men’s health issues through participation. Interested men can become Mo Bros and grow out their mustaches for the month of November. Stache-growers can gather sponsors, win support, donate, or spark interest as they see fit, all for the nonprofit venture.

Call it the men’s version of pink-ribbon breast cancer awareness, but for prostate and testicular cancer instead. Call it a broad health movement raising awareness about men’s depression, encouraging nutritional needs, and fueling honesty about health problems. Call it whatever nonprofit buzzword comes to mind, but remember to also call Movember remarkably successful.

Since if first began several years ago in Australia, Movember has raised more than $300 million, had more than 2 million participants, and spread awareness of men’s health and struggles with illness around the globe. The nonprofit now has extensive education resources, a Global Action Plan, and joint goals with the Prostate Cancer Foundation and the Livestrong Foundation. Other companies around the world, like Marshall Aerospace, have hopped on board to declare mini-Movember movements and sign up in groups to raise money.

Grassroot at the Roots

What makes Movember noteworthy is not only its rise to fame, but its reliance on the power of social media to make it happen. “Moustache as a catalyst for change” is not a strong selling point in normal marketing, but in social circles it had potential as a challenge, a rite of passage, and a conversation topic. Social network circles, blogs, and Instagram were perfect fits, because Movember centered on taking snapshots of mustache growth to show off (or startle) friends.

In an interview with Adam Lundquist, Grassroots leader for US Movember J.J. Owen said: “I think at the heart of Movember we are incredibly grassroots. To really scale globally, especially as far as getting people to participate, we have really had to rely on our website and social media to disperse our message. We have 15 people that work in the US to reach the 300 million people who live in the country.”

This is a classic tale of effectiveness through small numbers, the sort of viral marketing that all nonprofits and marketing professionals dream of emulating. Here, it happened because a small group of men had a great idea and pursued it: The strength and undeniable quirkiness of the idea helped it gain momentum, and the social media talent of those involved made the movement a worldwide sensation.

Move(ember) Consumers

Use Movember as an inspiration to reach new levels of grassroots success on your own. You do not need a nonprofit to realize the benefits of similar campaigns. What you do need is an attractive idea that gives consumers a reason to share their status. Temporary tattoos can be equally post-worthy. Participatory events with a lasting change can work. Partnering with a nonprofit or embracing social change gives people an added reason to spread the news.

A last bonus suggestion: try the Movember way and rate the success of your campaign by the number of conversation it starts. In 2011 Movember motivated 2,413 conversations on men’s health. How many conversations can your campaign generate?

Photo Source: Flickr

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