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Inspiring Behavior Change for Sustainable, Healthy,
and Equitable Communities

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About Social Marketing


In 2014, the Boards of the International Social Marketing Association, European Social Marketing Association and Australian Association of Social Marketing endorsed the following definition of Social Marketing:

“Social Marketing seeks to develop and integrate marketing concepts with other approaches to influence behaviours that benefit individuals and communities for the greater social good.  Social Marketing practice is guided by ethical principles. It seeks to integrate research, best practice, theory, audience and partnership insight, to inform the delivery of competition sensitive and segmented social change programmes that are effective, efficient, equitable and sustainable.”

What Issues Can Benefit from Social Marketing?

Social marketing is used to influence specific behaviors that will improve health, prevent injuries, protect the environment and contribute to communities.  Major issues that social marketing can benefit include:

  • Health:  tobacco use, binge drinking, obesity, physical activity, immunizations, nutrition, sexually transmitted diseases, blood pressure, oral health, high cholesterol, and skin, breast, prostate and colon cancer
  • Injury Prevention:  traffic safety, drowning, safe gun storage, falls, household fires, suicide, sexual assault, domestic violence, disaster preparedness, and seat belt, car seat and booster seat usage
  • Environmental Protection:  waste reduction, water conservation, water quality, energy conservation, air pollution, litter, wildlife habitat protection, forest preservation, disposal of hazardous waste, reducing single use plastic pollution, climate change behaviors
  • Community Engagement:  organ donation, blood donation, volunteering, voting, crime prevention, animal rights, literacy and financial well-being

 What are Steps in the Planning Process?

  1.  Describe the Background, Purpose and Focus for the Planning Effort
  2.  Conduct a Situation Analysis
  3.  Select and Describe the Target Audience
  4.  Set Marketing Objectives and Goals (Behavior, Knowledge, Beliefs)
  5.  Identify Audience Barriers, Benefits, Motivators and the Competition
  6.  Craft a Desired Positioning Statement
  7.  Develop a Strategic Marketing Intervention Considering All 4Ps (Product, Price, Place, Promotion) to Overcome Barriers and  Increase Benefits
  8.  Determine an Evaluation Plan
  9.  Establish a Campaign Budget and Find funding
  10.  Outline an Implementation Plan

Where Did the Concept Originate?

Social marketing has been considered a distinct marketing discipline since the early 1970s, when it was originally distinguished by Philip Kotler.

Who Does Social Marketing?

"It is rare for professionals to have social marketing titles. More often, these professionals are program managers or are working in community relations or communication positions. Social marketing professionals might consider themselves researchers, academics, students, physicians, economists, environmentalists, or public health professionals. The practice of social marketing principles and techniques are used by various stakeholders on the front lines to influence public behaviors that improve public health, prevent injuries, protect the environment, engender community involvement and enhance financial well being."

Source:  Lee, N. & Kotler, P. Social Marketing: Changing Behaviors for Good. SAGE Publications, Inc. 2015.

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