When you want people to act (in a volunteer drive for example) consider social marketing.
Social marketing is about changing behaviour for the benefit of an individual and society at large.
In commercial marketing companies employ marketing experts to try and understand what motivates and drives their market (or audience). They tailor products and create a brand so the market sees great value in the product and desires to purchase it – all to make more profit.
Social marketing uses the same science and techniques as commercial marketing but instead of doing it to create profit, the intended outcome is a new behaviour that has health, safety, environmental or social benefits.
Social marketing has been around for several decades. There is confusion about what social marketing is because of the more recent rise in use of social media as a marketing channel. Often when someone says “social marketing” what we hear is “a Facebook page and Twitter account”.
Social marketing has been used successfully to get people to change unhealthy, harmful or undesirable behaviour and to change attitudes in society. Well known examples are: anti-littering campaigns, seatbelt use, tobacco reduction and energy conservation. It is continually used to shift attitudes and behaviours in more complex cases such as promoting physical activity, healthy eating and reducing obesity.
There have been many successes so far (we have all heard of ParticiPACTION right?).
A huge challenge for social marketers is the amount of dollars available to do research and evaluation and launch effective campaigns since most social marketing is done by not for profit and public organizations that rely on revenue from taxpayers or donors. As a result, many social marketers are experts in developing no-cost or low-cost campaigns and promotions (NOTE: no-cost and low-cost promotion will be the subject of a future post).
Social marketers are dedicated to public good and as a result there are a lot of free tools and information available. Below are some links to help you learn more.
In the local context there are some persistent issues that create concern and may be good candidates for a social marketing approach to find resolution. For example: encouraging residents to shop locally, the drive for more volunteer firefighters, or getting people to pick up after their dogs in parks.
It’s a good idea to remember that even with the most successful campaigns to change behaviour you can never change everyone. When enough people are concerned about an existing behaviour that’s when the time is ripe for change.
For more information and free tools see the links below:
1. The Centre of Excellence in Public Sector Marketing is Canada’s premier training centre for public sector and non-profit social marketing. Their key staff each have personal sites and blogs which offer great insight into social marketing, public sector and non-profit marketing, partnerships and the latest trends in social media: http://cepsm.ca/home/
2. Tools of change is based on a workbook developed by Ottawa-based Cullbridge Marketing and Communications to develop, test and disseminate practical information on community-based social marketing for promoting environmental citizenship. It is a comprehensive site with several sponsors including the Canadian Federal Government and business partners. It has case studies and a planning guide to help get people to take actions and adopt habits that promote health, safety and/or sustainability. http://www.toolsofchange.com/en/home/
3. The National Social Marketing Centre (U.K.) has a wealth of information, free tools and templates: http://www.socialmarketing-toolbox.com/ and http://www.thensmc.com/content/tools-resources.
4. A web-based training module from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S.A.) on how to use social marketing to plan nutrition, physical activity, and obesity prevention programs. http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpao/socialmarketing/index.html