What is Social Marketing?
Social marketing uses marketing principles and techniques with the purpose of bringing a target audience to accept, reject, modify or voluntarily let go of a behavior in its own interest, a group’s interest, or in the interest of society as a whole.
Now, social marketing is based on the principle that the target audience has the capacity to make decisions by itself and choose amongst different options. It is not a body of students that need to be educated or a recalcitrant who needs to be corrected. It therefore rejects the paternalistic concept that experts know what is best and believe they can tell people how to behave. Social marketing leans towards an approach centered on the target audience. It aims to identify each target audience’s profile - its needs, expectations, perceptions, obstacles when adopting certain behaviors, style, environment, and media habits), in order to understand what the target audience desires and therefore be able to supply the necessary support to acquire it.
Individuals do not all behave the same way when facing a social issue and do not all react the same way when facing a given strategy. By separating the population according to certain variables - the importance that people attach to a given behavior or its advantages, their abilities, their environment and lifestyle - it is possible to adapt the strategies accordingly. What follows is an increase of the programs’ effectiveness which aims for a change in behavior. Segments most likely to produce the desired behavior are privileged - including with hard-to-reach publics - or the most important ones for the organism’s objectives. The change in behavior of the chosen segment must benefit society as a whole.
Behavior is defined as an observable action or lack of action by an individual. Social marketing is interested in the voluntary adoption of behaviors that are beneficial to society. The success of social marketing is measured by the acceptance or non-acceptance of the desired behavior, and not only by a change of the degree of awareness, the knowledge, or the behavioral intentions of the people.
The evaluation of a social marketing initiative is founded on the current results - rate of change in the target audience’s behavior - and on the expected results of the benefits for society. Social marketing is a continuous process in which the evaluation and the follow-up supply data on the target audience’s preferences and on the environmental changes needed in order to maintain and increase the effects of the programs.
Efforts aimed at influencing downstream individuals are usually reinforced by an upstream intervention, especially with politicians and corporate decision-makers, as well as their immediate surrounding, i.e. friends, family and other influential people.
This is the basis of social marketing. It is an interesting technique to use for your business or organization.
Photo credit: flickr.com