Social Marketing 101

6 09 2012

What Is Social Marketing?

Social marketing is the same as commercial marketing—the marketing that sells a certain brand of car or shoe. It’s the goals we hope to achieve that are different. As social marketers, we want to influence social behavior that benefits the individual, the target audience, and society—not just behavior that benefits us as marketers. We don’t want to sell vaccines; we want to sell the idea of health benefits associated with immunizing and health risks associated with not immunizing. We want to sell the attitude that protecting the community is as important as protecting oneself. We want to sell the behavior of timely immunization for oneself and loved ones.

What Is The Approach?

Nedra Kline Weinreich of Weinreich Communications talks about “the four Ps of marketing” and that social marketing “adds a few more Ps.” She says that one has to plan out a “marketing mix” that is consumer-focused:

  • Product. Disease prevention through immunization—that’s the product we’re marketing.
  • Price. What’s the price to the public to prevent disease through immunization? There are several costs, but the bottom line is that the public has to believe that there’s more value to vaccinating than not vaccinating.
  • Place. Where can the public get immunizations? Vaccines must be easy to get so that the public feels satisfied with the experience.
  • Promotion. Promoting disease prevention through vaccination can be done through many avenues including PSAs, blog articles, online networking, and sharing the personal stories of those affected by preventable disease.

Social marketing “Ps” that pertain to our field include:

  • Publics. Publics is made of two broad groups: the people in your organization who have a say in the establishment of your program and those who will receive your message. For maximum effectiveness, you may need to adapt your message to each target audience. For example, if you are promoting the importance of the HPV vaccine for girls as your basic message, you’ll need to adapt it for different groups who perform different functions, including legislators, school districts, parents, girls, and insurers.
  • Partnership. Partnering with other groups is an efficient way to stretch the budget a bit further. Sharing resources and connections can make a good program great. Health departments and immunization coalitions already do this, so you’re a step ahead!
  • Policy. If you’re promoting HPV vaccination as a healthy choice for girls and young women, and you are successful in getting buy-in from those girls and young women, the program will need policy makers to also buy-in for sustainability. If policy makers are not financially and fundamentally supporting HPV vaccination for girls and young women, the vaccine will not be readily available, it will be too expensive for end-users, and it will not become a widespread practice.
  • Purse Strings. Every health department and immunization coalition knows that, without funding, their programs cannot be developed. Acquiring funds is an ongoing challenge for social marketers.

Putting It Together

A social marketing campaign is fun and challenging. We return to Nedra Kline Weinreich for instructions on how to integrate social marketing into your programs. She offers 10 tips for implementation which have been illustrated with a sample program: Raising awareness of HPV infection and vaccination among teen girls.

1. Talk with your “customers,” your target audiences.

Your program will be more successful if you take time to talk with your target audience and find out what they want and need before constructing your program.

If you are targeting teen girls to raise awareness of HPV infection and the HPV vaccine, go to where teen girls are and talk with them. Listen to them. Ask them what they know about HPV, who do they go to for sexual health information, what’s important to them, how they feel about getting immunizations, and what would improve their experience. There will be many questions to ask and answer, but these are good for starting a conversation.

Don’t forget to sit down with the parents of teen girls, as they might be the ones to make the appointment and take the teen to the clinic for the vaccination. The parents constitute a different target group, so the conversation will be different. However, it’s important to recognize all target groups for the program and that each may require a slightly different marketing message.

Ways to “listen” to the audience include:

  • Surveys – paper or online
  • Focus groups – in person or online
  • Social media – ask and get comments back
  • Research – see what survey results or opinion summaries have already been written.

2. Segment your audience.

Each target group will be different and will have different viewpoints of the same issue. As mentioned previously, the parents of a teen girl will be concerned with different things than a teen girl. For example, parents may be concerned with vaccination costs while their daughter might be more concerned with the pain of getting a shot.

Knowing each of your audiences and talking with each will help define and refine your messages. For this program, you might break your audience up by age range (11–14, 15–17, 18–19), by cultural, racial, or religious backgrounds (Asian, African American, Islamic), by geographic location (Southwest, Northeast), or by another common factor.

How many segments you target will depend on your budget and goals. Each segment will require messages that resonate with that group.

3. Position your product.

In social marketing, your product is going to be the end result—perhaps a change in behavior or attitude. Ms. Weinreich points out that this is more difficult than when marketing tangible goods:

Products like behaviors and attitudes require long-term commitments and do not sell as easily as a bar of soap or a car. The cost of a social marketing product often includes a person’s time and effort (to attend a class or use services), giving up things he likes (high fat food), embarrassment or inconvenience (buying and using condoms), or social disapproval (resisting peer pressure to smoke).

Positioning the product––getting teen girls to get vaccinated against HPV––means listening to your target audiences and finding out “…the benefits they value most and the barriers they foresee.”

For example, if parents feel that the cost of vaccination trumps any benefit that could be gained by vaccinating, that’s a perceived barrier. In return, you position your product (getting vaccinated) and show how parents can save money (insurance, free clinics) and how the money spent at this time may save health, heartache, and money down the road should someone grow ill as a consequence of not being vaccinated.

4. Know your competition.

Most health educators don’t think in terms of competition because they’re not trying to win anything. The bigger purpose is to make change happen, not make a profit.

While this is true, it’s also true that other health education programs, commercial marketing efforts, and even world events compete for the attention of your target audiences. Or, you may simply be competing against the inertia of your audience—a formidable competitor.

To win the competition, says Ms. Weinreich, “Your product must be more attractive than the alternatives to be accepted.”

It sounds simple, but this is where the creativity of your group will be put to the test.

5. Go to where your audience is.

Where do your target audiences get their news? Where do they spend their time? Online? At church? In school? At the mall? Wherever it is, that’s where you want to place your messages. You want to make sure they see and hear what you have to say, so put the advertising (posters, PSAs, stories) where you know they will be looking.

6. Utilize a variety of approaches.

Take your messages: “It’s your body, protect it” or “Protect your daughter’s future today”, for example, and present them in multiple outlets and in multiple forms.

Other ideas include:

  • Making up bumper stickers and distribute them through the PTA;
  • Designing posters and place them in malls and free clinics;
  • Recording PSAs and place them on local radio stations and school radio;
  • Placing ads in newspapers;
  • Providing free stickers in fast food bags

Be creative and make sure the venue choices are appropriate for each target audience.

Your budget will help determine the activities and the number of ways you can get your message out. Make sure the message is branded, so that audiences will recognize it when they see it. For each target audience, make sure their main message and design remains the same on posters, stickers, PSAs and other approaches.

7. Use models that work.

Social marketing usually seeks to change behavior in some way. The CDC provides a description of several behavior change models that could be adapted as you design your own program. We’ve included a couple of models here:

Health Belief Model

Premise: Health behavior is a function of specific health beliefs. All must be operating for a risk reducing/health promoting behavior to occur.

I. Threat

* Perceived susceptibility
” I could get it.”
* Perceived severity
“The consequences of getting it would be serious.”

II. Outcome expectations

* Perceived benefits of performing a behavior
” If I use condoms/bleach, I can prevent HIV infection.”
* Perceived barriers of performing the behavior
“Cleaning my works is a real drag.”
* Belief that the benefits of performing a behavior outweigh the consequences of not performing it before behavior change will occur
“I’d rather use clean needles than get HIV.”

III. Self efficacy (later addition)

* Belief that one can perform a behavior, even under difficult circumstances
“I know I can do this.”

Transtheoretical Model (Stages of Change)

Premise: Behavior occurs in a series of stages, independent of specific theoretical factors. Movement through the stages varies from person to person and group to group. There are 5 stages of change, as well as various processes and levels of change.

Five Stages of Change

* Precontemplation—no intention to change behavior; not aware of risk, or believe behaviors don’t place them at risk.
“I know I have a lot of sexual partners, but I don’t need to use condoms because my partners aren’t at risk for HIV.”
* Contemplation—recognizes behavior puts them at risk and is thinking of changing, but not committed to making that change.
“I know that not using a condom puts me at risk for HIV, but sex isn’t the same when I wear a condom.”
* Preparation—person intends to change risky behavior sometime soon and is actively preparing.
“I just bought some condoms and am going to talk to my partner about using them the next time we have sex.”
* Action—person has changed risky behavior recently, with change having occurred in a relatively recent time period (i.e., 6 months)
“My partner and I used a condom for the first time and it wasn’t as bad as I thought.”
* Maintenance—person has maintained behavior change for a long period of time (> 6 months), and has adapted to the change.
“Using condoms is no big deal anymore; my partner and I have our routine down and always use them when we have sex.”
* Relapse is a normal process in one’s attempt to change behaviors.

8. Test, test, test.

Test your messages and materials for each target group with each target group. Use focus groups and surveys and any other evaluative tool that works and test throughout the development process. Test again after your messages and materials have been in use for a short time and adapt your messages and materials if necessary. Testing will make your program more successful.

9. Build partnerships with key allies.

Working with other groups whose missions are similar to yours will extend the reach of your program, stretch your budget dollars, and increase exposure for all allies. Key allies might be other health educators, or they might be those outside of health education who have an interest or connection to your target audience(s). These include youth ministers, coaches, retailers, members of the media, and other service groups who share your target audiences. Think beyond health education and consider any group or individual with a connection to your target audiences.

10. See what you can do better next time.

Evaluating your program is what will give it and future programs more substance. Some evaluation occurs in the testing phase mentioned earlier. Evaluations performed at the beginning and end of the program can help you understand what changes did and did not take place in your target audience. Getting both qualitative and quantitative feedback from your target audiences throughout the program can help you improve your approaches as you proceed. Tracking your progress as you implement the program can help you find ways to be more efficient.

It’s important to do the evaluations so that you can cut a little bit off of the learning curve and start out with a stronger program next time.

The following are samples of social marketing programs

CDC case studies

Turning Point case studies

From: Communications Made Easy

Tell a Story, Change a Life

7 06 2012

When a healthcare professional explains the science behind the design and manufacture of vaccines in order to reassure moms and dads that vaccines are safe, many parents politely listen, nod, and go about their day with their thinking firmly unchanged. What they’ve just heard is abstract and they can’t relate to it. There’s no “ah-ha” moment.

When a mom whose child has died from a vaccine-preventable disease stands in front of other parents, either in person or on camera, and tells her family’s story, most parents, no matter what their beliefs are about the safety of vaccines, feel that pain, empathize with that mom, and bristle with protective feelings for their own children.

This mom that we’re listening to is just like us. She’s a normal person who’s had an exceptionally horrible experience. While watching and listening to her, we realize that the same event could happen to us. We have our “ah-ha” moment.

The evolving, or perhaps revolving, discussion around vaccine safety needs to marry the presentation of scientific fact with that of the human experience for a comprehensive picture of the need for vaccination and the results of not vaccinating.
Author Steve Denning in The Secret Language of Leadership discusses “narrative,” or storytelling:

“In making the case for narrative, I am in no way trying to undermine science or drag the world back to the dark ages of myth and superstition. On the contrary, I am committed to science and its self-correcting methodology. We need to apply double-blind controls in experiments, where neither the subjects nor the experimenters know the experiment’s objectives during data collection. We need to vet our results at professional conferences and in peer-reviewed journals. We should insist that research be replicated by others unaffiliated with the original researcher. In our reports, we need to include any evidence to the contrary, as well as alternative interpretations of the data. We need to encourage colleagues to be skeptical and to raise objections. If extraordinary claims are being made, we must put forward extraordinary evidence…

“…But when we’ve done all that, and it’s vital that we do it, how do we communicate the results of what we have discovered, particularly if our findings are highly disruptive to people’s lives? If we try to communicate those findings by the same methods through which the findings were derived, what usually happens? Pushback. Resistance. Cynicism. Hostility. If we use narrative intelligence…the results can be very different.

“It’s a matter of using science and analysis for what they are good at, and using the language of [narration] to communicate science’s findings and get them implemented. Just think for a moment. Would it be scientific to go on using the language of analysis for an activity for which it isn’t suited, while refusing to use a different language that does work? To adopt such an approach would be the height of unscientific behavior.”

Evan’s Story
Lynn Bozof, from the National Meningitis Association, shares her family’s story:

March 25, 1998, is a day that my husband and I will never forget.

It was a day marked by events that have left a permanent hole in our hearts. It was the day our son, Evan, called from college to tell us that he had a migraine headache.

Evan was 20 years old, a college junior and honor student, and a pitcher on his college baseball team at Georgia Southwestern University.

He complained of a horrible headache, the worst headache he’d ever had, and was nauseated. He said he couldn’t hold anything down. He said that the light in his dorm room hurt his eyes. Evan had never had a migraine before, but migraines do run in the family, so we weren’t overly alarmed.

By dinnertime, Evan was still feeling awful. We told him to get one of his friends to take him to the emergency room. We thought that at least he could get something for his nausea. During the next few hours, we talked to his baseball coach, who had gone to see Evan at the hospital, and the ER physician, who told us that Evan had a little virus.  The hospital had decided to keep Evan overnight so that he could have a quiet night to get more rest.

The next morning, I called Evan about 7 AM. The nurse answered, and said that Evan felt too sick to talk to me. I asked her to put the phone up to his ear. I asked him if he wanted us to pick him up and take him home for the weekend. He said he did.

Evan was on spring break, but really didn’t get much of a chance to have one because his baseball team had games scheduled during that time. We figured he must be tired, and a weekend home with us where he could rest and eat good food was what he needed. 

My husband and I were making arrangements to meet back at our house when I received a phone call just after arriving at work. I was told that Evan had meningococcal meningitis and was in critical condition.

When you get a phone call like this, your mind can’t even absorb what you’re being told. I knew so little about meningitis, that when the doctor said that it was bacterial, I thought that was the better type to have. I thought, well, at least there were antibiotics. I didn’t realize that bacterial meningitis, especially the meningococcal meningitis that Evan had, was much more deadly.

My husband and I drove the 3 hours to Evan, not knowing if he would be alive when we got there. We stopped mid way to call the hospital to check his condition. At that time, we didn’t have a cell phone to keep in constant contact with the hospital.

When we got to the hospital, administrators were waiting to talk to us. They wanted to prepare us for the way Evan looked and the criticality of his condition before we were allowed to see him. That frightened us even more.

Evan was in quarantine and was receiving oxygen with very labored breathing. He was covered with the telltale purple rash. He could barely speak; he was so tired. He told us that it took every ounce of energy he had just to roll over.

We were told that the next 24 hours were critical. My husband and I started the countdown. One hour down, 23 more to go. Calling our relatives to let them know what was going on. Trying to reach our younger son, Ryan, who was on spring break with friends in Panama City, Florida.

After a few hours, the doctors decided to transfer him to a larger hospital about 40 miles away, better equipped to handle bacterial meningitis. As he was taken to the ambulance, I said, “Love you, Evan.”  As weak and sick as he was, he said, “Love you, Mom.”  Those were the last words he said to us.

When Evan arrived at the hospital in Albany, Georgia, he was put on a ventilator and put into a drug-induced coma.  It wasn’t long before his kidneys shut down, then his liver and lungs, and eventually it was affecting all of his organs. His fingers, his toes, his ears, his nose, all turning black. Then his entire hands were black; then his entire feet; and the gangrene kept spreading up his limbs.

We watched our son fight to breathe, fight to live. After two more weeks, Evan was transferred to a third hospital, which had a burn unit. The damage to Evan’s organs from the meningococcemia was similar to the damage that burn victims suffer.

One day later, Evan’s arms were amputated above the elbows and his legs above the knees. We had to sign consent forms allowing the doctors to amputate as much as was necessary to save his life.

We had no choice; we would do anything to save Evan. Several days later, Evan suffered 10 hours of grand mal seizures. The seizures caused irreversible brain swelling. Evan was brain-dead.

This son of ours, loved more than we can put into words, had to be disconnected from the machines that were keeping him alive…had to be put into a body bag in front of our eyes.

After Evan died, we found out to our astonishment that a vaccine was available, a vaccine that would have saved Evan’s life. Not a new vaccine, but one used very successfully and safely by the military to control meningitis outbreaks for over 30 years.

The vaccine protected against four of the five strains of meningococcal meningitis. If we had known about this vaccine, Evan would have received it and Evan would be here today.

Please don’t let this happen to your child. Immunize and protect your loved ones. There is no getting over the loss of a child. It’s a wound with a scab that never completely heals.

Storytelling is human. It moves us to action as no other communication can, so please use it.

This article comes from PKIDs’ Communications Made Easy program.