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13. Implementing Social Marketing

This toolkit assists in developing a social marketing effort to promote adoption and use of innovations.

  1. Decide whether to conduct a social marketing campaign.
    1. The aim is to reach large numbers of people (e.g., all adults and youth in the community)
    2. You hope to change behavior and outcomes significantly and/or over a long period of time
    3. There are sufficient resources for the campaign including time, personnel, and financial resources
      Related resources:
      Understanding Social Marketing: Encouraging Adoption and Use of Valued Products and Practices
      Conducting a Social Marketing Campaign
      Collecting Information About the Problem
  2. Collect information from those who would benefit from and contribute to the social marketing campaign:
    1. Indicate how you will gather information, including:
      1. Listening sessions and public forums
      2. Interviews with members of prioritized groups (e.g., asking youth why they smoke)
      3. Focus groups, interviews, and/or surveys with prioritized groups and their subgroups
    2. Indicate what you will ask about (listen for), including:
      1. Knowledge of the issue including how often the problem (or desired) behavior occurs
      2. Importance of the goal/desired behavior for the audience (e.g., Why is that important?)
      3. Expected benefits of adopting the changed behavior
      4. Expected benefits and costs of adopting or continuing the behavior
        Related resources:
        Analyzing Community Problems
        Understanding the Issue
        Developing Facilitation Skills
        Conducting Public Forums and Listening Sessions
        Conducting Interviews
        Conducting Focus Groups
        Rating Community Goals
  3. State the goals and behavioral objectives of the campaign.
    1. State the issue or broad goal the campaign is trying to address (e.g., reduce violence; promote physical activity).
    2. Outline the basic principles of the social marketing campaign including:
      1. Product: What are the behaviors/outcomes (e.g., poor eating/obesity) that you are trying to change in and among whom
      2. Price: How much time, effort, and other consequences (e.g., money, social approval, lost opportunities) will it cost a person to change their behavior/outcome?
      3. Place: Where should the behaviors occur (not occur)? What are the barriers (opportunities) for the behavior to occur?
      4. Promotion: What communications will occur, from what sources to whom, and through what channels of influence?
    3. Indicate what behaviors of whom, if changed, would make the most difference with the issue or goal.
      1. State the desired attributes and expected benefits of each target behavior. [e.g., For physical activity, desired attributes (and anticipated benefits) include: burn fat (lose weight, look better, be healthier), produce endorphins (reduce stress, feel more energy), and build muscle strength (become stronger, be more independent in daily activities).]
      2. Describe the specific behavioral objectives the campaign will seek how much change in what behaviors of whom by when (e.g., By July 2020, the percentage of adults who engage in regular physical activity will increase by 30%).
        Related resources:
        Developing a Plan for Communication
        Proclaiming Your Dream: Developing Vision and Mission Statements
        Understanding Social Marketing: Encouraging Adoption and Use of Valued Products and Practices
        Defining and Analyzing the Problem
        Identifying Targets and Agents of Change: Who Can Benefit and Who Can Help?
        Generating and Choosing Solutions
        Creating Objectives
  4. Define the audience or specific prioritized groups to be reached.
    1. Identify the specific prioritized groups whose behavior matters if the issue or goal is to be addressed (e.g., youth, parents/guardians, elected officials).
    2. Indicate subgroups that may have a higher risk for experiencing the problem. Consider those at particular risk associated with:
      1. Past or current behaviors (e.g., history of tobacco use)
      2. Personal factors (e.g., age, gender, race or ethnicity, family history, income)
      3. Environmental factors (e.g., stress, social support, access and barriers, and exposure to harmful agents)
      4. Geographic area (i.e., where people live)
    3. Indicate the environments, situations, or settings in which the targeted behavior occurs (or should occur) (e.g., schools, homes, parks or other public places)
    4. For each prioritized group and subgroup, indicate their readiness for change including:
      1. Knowledge of the problem or goal
      2. Belief in the importance of the goal
      3. Desire for change
      4. Belief in ability to change
      5. Action
      6. Ability to maintain change
    5. Describe how you will learn more about the prioritized groups' current behavior, the situations in which it occurs, and readiness to change including by:
      1. Direct observation of behaviors of interest (e.g., for the goal of reducing teen smoking, count percentage of teens smoking cigarettes as they leave schools)
      2. Participant observation in the environments in which the targeted behavior occurs (or should occur) (e.g., hanging out and observing in parks and recreation centers where teens spend time after school)
      3. Behavioral surveys (e.g., use school surveys to ask youth to report how often they smoke)
      4. Listening sessions and public forums (e.g., among those living in particular neighborhoods)
      5. Informal interviews with members of prioritized groups (e.g., asking children what they most appreciate about those who care for them)
      6. Focus groups of members of subgroups (e.g., asking working adults what it would take for them to get more physical activity)
        Related resources:
        Identifying Targets and Agents of Change: Who Can Benefit and Who Can Help?
        Collecting Information About the Problem
        Developing Baseline Measures of Behavior
        Conducting Public Forums and Listening Sessions
        Conducting Interviews
        Conducting Focus Groups
  5. Engage potential partners and change agents in the campaign.
    1. Identify those agents of change who may be particularly helpful in reaching different prioritized groups (and indicate how they will be engaged) including:
      1. Connectors: How will the group identify and involve those who can spread the message of the campaign through their networks?
      2. Teachers: How will the group identify and involve those who can and will provide needed knowledge to those implementing the campaign’s components?
      3. Persuaders: How will the group identify and involve those who can motivate others to adopt the behaviors sought by the campaign
    2. Identify those in a position to change conditions under which the targeted behaviors occur, and indicate how they will be engaged in the campaign (e.g., Who can help modify access, barriers, and opportunities?).
      Related resources:
      Building and Sustaining Relationships
      Writing Letters to Potential Participants
      Making Personal Contact with Potential Participants
      Identifying Potential Throughout the Community
      Creating and Gathering a Group to Guide Your Initiative
      Involving Key Influentials in the Initiative
      Identifying Targets and Agents of Change: Who Can Benefit and Who Can Help
      Recognizing Allies
      Lobbying Decisionmakers
  6. Analyze the key behaviors and environments related to the problem or goal.
    1. State the target behavior(s) the campaign will address:
    2. State the likely consequences of the desired behavior for individuals, and for the community:
    3. Indicate the personal factors that increase or decrease the likelihood of behaviors and outcomes of interest:
    4. Indicate the environmental factors that increase or decrease the likelihood of behaviors and outcomes of interest:
    5. Indicate what aspects of broader conditions and systems affect the behaviors and outcomes:
    6. Indicate best practices for addressing the issue/goal and changing the desired behavior and what made them work:
      Related resources:
      Defining and Analyzing the Problem
      Identifying Strategies and Tactics for Reducing Risks
  7. Identify core components or strategies of the campaign. Indicate how the campaign will:
    1. Communicate memorable messages about the desired behavior including:
      1. Credible content and source (e.g., testimonial by someone like me, celebrity, or person in authority)
      2. Images that convey the appropriate tone (e.g., serious, humorous, friendly, frightening)
      3. Memorable sayings (e.g., “just do it”; “make kids count”) and narrative stories (e.g., about why this was important to particular people and communities)
      4. Specific prompts about the behaviors to be changed (i.e., be clear about what people should do and when)
      5. How this fits with the circumstances of people’s lives (i.e., how it is compatible with people’s available time, the places where they live and work, and the situations they experience)
      6. How this minimizes time and effort (i.e., how the time and cost is acceptable)
      7. How doing it results in positive consequences (e.g., increased social approval from peers)
    2. Make the desired behaviors more rewarding or attractive by:
      1. Increasing available positive reinforcement for the desired behavior (e.g., social approval from friends and family)
      2. Decreasing the prevailing punishment (e.g., media campaign to suggest it is “cool” or socially acceptable to do well in school)
      3. Make the desired behaviors easier or of lower cost in time, effort, and money (i.e., modifying access, removing barriers, and increasing opportunities for the behavior)
      4. Improve people’s abilities to adopt the behavior change (e.g. provide more and better services and support)
      5. Decrease the attractiveness of competing behaviors (e.g., reducing available rewards for undesirable behaviors)
        Related resources:
        Influencing People
        Designing Community Interventions
        Communications to Promote Interest
        Understanding Social Marketing: Encouraging Adoption and Use of Valued Products and Practices
  8. Select and tailor campaign components based on their importance, feasibility, and fit with different prioritized groups/subgroups.
    1. Identify the particular sources of information that may be most influential with distinct prioritized groups and subgroups (i.e., people trust messages that come from others who are similar in age, ethnicity, etc.).
    2. Identify the particular channels of influence to be used to reach distinct prioritized groups and subgroups (e.g., African Americans and Hispanics might be reached through church bulletins in faith communities). Indicate all the channels that might apply for person-to-person, small group, or media communications, including:
      1. Informal networks and naturally occurring groups (e.g., those in faith communities, support groups,neighborhoods)
      2. Public and nonprofit organizations (e.g., health and human service agencies, libraries)
      3. Professional associations and groups (e.g., teachers' associations, labor unions)
      4. Businesses (e.g., theaters, convenience stores, beauty salons, bars)
      5. Point-of-purchase/activity materials (e.g., signs, displays, "take one" handouts)
      6. Community events (e.g., soccer games, arts festivals)
      7. Social media (e.g., facebook, twitter, instagram)
      8. Direct and electronic mail (e.g., bill stuffers, email)
      9. Print materials (e.g., brochures, fact sheets, newsletters, posters, flyers)
      10. Print media (e.g., newspapers, daily and weekly)
      11. Outdoor media (e.g., billboards, transit ads)
      12. Broadcast media (e.g., television, radio)
      13. Telephone directories (e.g., yellow pages)
      14. Other (be specific)
    3. Identify how other selected strategies/components of a social marketing campaign will be tailored for use with different prioritized groups/subgroups (e.g., To increase adult engagement in caring relationships with children, the group might use radio and television ads, flextime policies in large businesses, and information distributed through church bulletins, etc.).
      Related resources:
      Developing a Plan for Communication
      Adapting Community Interventions for Different Cultures and Communities
  9. Pretest and revise the campaign components before full implementation.
    1. Indicate how you will implement the selected strategies/components with a representative sample of the targeted groups/subgroups (e.g., use focus groups to test public service announcements).
    2. Indicate how you will gather information about the benefits and costs of the campaign components, including:
      1. Clarity of the message
      2. Effects with target behaviors
      3. Satisfaction with particular components
      4. Negative side effects
      5. Costs in time and money
    3. Indicate how you will use the information to modify (and, if necessary, re-test) components of the campaign
  10. Implement the social marketing campaign. For each aspect of the campaign, outline an action plan:
    1. What actions will occur?
    2. Who will carry it out?
    3. When this will occur?
    4. Resources (money and staff) needed/ available?
    5. Communication - Who should know what about this?
      Related resources:
      Putting Your Solution into Practice
      Achieving and Maintaining Quality Performance
  11. Evaluate the effects of the social marketing campaign. Indicate how you will:
    1. Track implementation of campaign components and activities
    2. Assess knowledge of (and exposure to) the campaign
    3. Assess ongoing changes in specific behavioral objectives
    4. Assess ongoing changes in specific population-level outcomes
    5. Examine the contribution of campaign components to possible improvements in behavior and outcomes at the community level
    6. Consider the ethical implications of the campaign
      Related resources:
      A Framework for Program Evaluation: A Gateway to Tools
      Developing an Evaluation Plan
  12. Celebrate successes and make ongoing adjustments (e.g., group celebrations, modify components).
    Related resources:
    Arranging Celebrations
    Holding Awards Ceremonies
    Providing Feedback to Improve the Initiative
    Achieving and Maintaining Quality Performance
  13. Sustain the effort long enough to make a difference.
    1. Maintain the involvement of core members of the campaign team (e.g., connectors, persuaders).
    2. Imbed and amplify the message (i.e., make public and visible, durable, deliver in natural contexts, imbed in small groups).
    3. Use evaluation information to help secure ongoing resources for sustained implementation (e.g., presentations to grantmakers about benefits).
    4. Secure media coverage of the issue/goal and successful implementation of relevant components (e.g., hold news conferences and pitch feature stories to promote continued awareness).
    5. Promote adoption of campaign components that made a difference (e.g., institutionalize enhanced access to services as part of the line item budget of the health department or other relevant public agency).
    6. Advocate for new changes that contribute to improvement (e.g., seek policies to change service hours to make it easier for people to use them).
      Related resources:
      Planning for the Institutionalization of an Initiative
      Strategies for Sustaining the Initiative
      Building and Sustaining Commitment
      Developing a Plan for Involving Volunteers
      Providing Incentives for Staff and Volunteers
      Marketing the Initiative to Secure Financial Support
      Working with the Media
      Making Friends with the Media
      Changing the Media's Perspective on Community Issues
      Preparing Press Releases
      Arranging a Press Conference
      Promoting Adoption of the Initiative's Mission and Objectives
      Attracting Support for Specific Programs

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