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What is Social Marketing? #2

by Louis on September 11, 2007

I find myself telling people that TIVO is better than television. I watch without commercials. It saves time. I don’t get so grumpy from seeing the same ads over and over. Do you wonder why advertisers pay good money to have the same ad repeated over and over? The answer is quite clear. The executives paying the bill are not stupid. They repeat those commercials over and over because it works.

That repetition works is not the only thing marketing and advertising folks know. They know a lot. They have to know their dollars are spent wisely. In order to know they test messages, placement, repetition and other factors before they go to deliver. And then, more importantly, they track the results. The point is not to deliver a message, it is to deliver a message that works. Preparing the message, getting it out in a variety of media and recording the results are part of the task. The investment must pay off.

Marketing folks have lots of tools. They test variations using focus groups or surveys or coding to hone in on what is effective. Does repetition impact results? How much repetition is necessary? How much is not worth it? How much is most cost effective? What is the sticking power of the message? What is the best medium for a particular message? What are the best media for certain populations? How long are the results effective? How long after getting the message do people act?

How is it different in social marketing? The specific goals are different but the point is still to communicate effectively and influence behavior. Are you trying to get people to act for themselves? Or do you want them to join a community effort? Is the goal increased pledges? Each needs the right message.

Do you want people to install grab bars?
Are you reaching out to consumers who will purchase the installations? Will you cite statistics on injuries among older folks? Will that scare them? Into action or to forget what you said?

If you reach out to their children is the message different? Are they decision makers or influencers? Can you help them learn how to influence their parents?

Maybe you want to reach case managers, discharge planners, medical receptionists. How do you best frame the information for each group?

The message is only part of the task. The results must be measured. In the commercial world the marketplace is the ultimate test of success. The measures are increased sales or inquiries? Do people buy more Pontiacs?

The overall goal of social marketing is behavior change. To measure that you need to track behavior over time. Beginning an exercise program is not success. We have all done that countless times. Making exercise a regular part of your routine over a period of years is success.

Clear goals and evidence based strategies to reach them is the responsible way social marketers use time and resources effectively. There is no point hoping or guessing. Preparing a campaign is not about what the good folks who know what is best for others think the message should be. The message needs to be what actually works.

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