Managing Blood Donations by Marketing
Marketing Science, Forthcoming

Blood banks rely on marketing to encourage donors to give blood. Many, if not most, blood banks in the U.S. are community-based not-for-profit organizations with limited marketing budgets. As a result, blood banks increasingly use novel and inexpensive online media, i.e., paid, owned and earned media, in their marketing efforts. We propose a dynamic model to help marketing managers of blood banks understand how blood donations can be managed via online paid, owned and earned media. We characterize the optimal forward-looking paid media strategies analytically taking into account the asymmetric costs related to shortage and excess of blood, as well as the possibility of a cost-free target donation zone. We detail new advertising resource allocation rules for blood banks and show when traditional allocation recommendations do not apply. Additionally, we discover that under certain circumstances, owned/earned media activities hurt the blood bank’s performance, despite being (mostly) free. We validate our analytical model by using daily donation data from a community-based blood bank and measure the effects of POEm activities on the level of blood donated.