I was the “stupid kid”—younger than my peers, slower to develop, and awkwardly shy. While my friends shared laughter and camaraderie as members of the “Purple People Eaters,” (a coveted grade school reading group), I was a “Fish.” That meant I had to visit The Big Top each week, a cloyingly bright and bubbly remedial room.

Power In Purpose: Cause Marketing

I hated the stigma of attending The Big Top. But I loved the magic held inside: books—dozens and dozens of big, beautiful picture books. The words intrigued me, the illustrations inspired. I dreamed of becoming a great artist one day, a great explorer, or a great spy. But mostly I dreamed. And that is the point: these books shaped my aspirations and my values.

The Giving Tree, Harry the Dirty Dog, The Little Engine that Could, Curious George, The Goops, Harriet the Spy, Bread and Jam for Francis, The Ugly Duckling, Homer Price, and The Story About Ping—I cherished them all. They showed me something bigger. They inspired me to something more. I believed in them. I followed their guidance.

My early books set the foundation for a love of reading and a life of learning. They were a critical part of my development…

I’m not the “stupid kid” anymore. How I got to this point is entirely one of education. My perspective is deep and broad. My skills in observation and empathy high. I’m creative. And, at times, boldly inventive. I have confidence to shoot for the stars, humility when I reach them, and chutzpah to pick myself back up again when I don’t. I reflect. I persevere. I solve problems. Including my own.

My early books set the foundation for a love of reading and a life of learning. They were a critical part of my development as were the weekly library visits with my mother and sister, and the outrageously silly stories told by my father.

Education Has the Power to Transform A Life

It did mine. But a good education eludes many people. The starting point? Learning to read.

Reading Statistics

  • 1 in 4 children in America grow up without learning how to read. ref. 1 »

  • 2/3 of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of 4th grade will end up in jail or on welfare. Over 70% of America’s inmates cannot read above a 4th grade level. ref. 2 »

  • Those who don’t read proficiently by the 3rd grade are 4 times likelier to drop out of school. ref. 3 »

  • Teenage girls between the ages of 16 to 19 who live at or below the poverty line and have below average literacy skills are 6 times more likely to have children out of wedlock than girls their age who can read proficiently. ref. 4 »

  • As of 2011, America was the only free-market OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) country where the current generation was less educated than the previous one. ref. 5 »

The social problems of illiteracy affect every one of us, but these are problems we can solve. Access to an ongoing and diverse supply of quality books is a reality for children from low-income families. As writers and authors, we think a lot about our brand, our platform, and our distribution. What if each of us incorporated another kind of social strategy into our marketing—one that benefitted the neediest children and families in our own communities?

We Are In A New Era—One of Social Responsibility

The number of consumers who say they would switch from one brand to another if the other brand were associated with a good cause has climbed 87 percent, a dramatic increase in recent years, according to a Cone Cause Evolution Survey. And if you intend to target Millennials (defined as between ages 18 to 34 in 2015)—who are projected to surpass the Baby Boom generation as the largest living generation this year by the US Census Bureau—cause marketing is a must.

Millennials care about causes and are more likely to show a preference toward companies that support causes—even if it means paying a bit more for those companies’ products. According to a study conducted by Barkley U.S., Millennials believe that contributing to a cause through a company’s cause marketing program is easier than doing so on their own. This behavior is significantly different from non-Millennial generations who reported preference for donating money directly to a cause.

Cause marketing is good for building your audience, and your business. As a writers and entrepreneurs, our next big marketing challenge is how to incorporate socially responsible efforts into our proposition to support our values, and our communities. Will you join me? Together, we can make a difference.


  1. Write Express Corporation. “Literacy Statistics.” Begin to Read. Accessed April 16, 2014.

  2. WriteExpress Corporation. “Literacy Statistics.” Begin to Read. Accessed February 24, 2015.

  3. The Annie E. Casey Foundation. “Students Who Don’t Read Well in Third Grade Are More Likely to Drop Out or Fail to Finish High School.” The Annie E. Casey Foundation. Accessed February 25, 2015.

  4. WriteExpress Corporation. “Literacy Statistics.” Begin To Read. Accessed February 24, 2015.

  5. Council for Advancement of Adult Literacy. “Reach Higher, America Overcoming Crisis In The U.S. Workforce.” National Commission on Adult Literacy. Accessed April 16, 2014.

Kristen Heimerl
Kristen’s business career spans 20+ years serving the biggest brands in industry and the biggest hearts of start-ups and entrepreneurs. She holds a master of science in eCommerce from Carnegie Mellon University, an MBA from the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management, & a BA from the University of St. Thomas. Learn more about Kristen!