Social marketing has the primary goal of achieving "common good". Traditional commercial marketing aims are primarily financial, though they can have positive social effects as well. In the context of public health, social marketing would promote general health, raise awareness and induce changes in behaviour.
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Social marketing involves trying to change people’s actual behaviour – not just their attitudes or awareness.
As social marketers, we must stand in the shoes of the people whose behaviour we are trying to change. We need to understand their lives and their behaviours from their perspective, not based on what we might think or experience.
We use behavioural theories to help us understand behaviour and to inform the interventions that we develop.
We conduct research into the behaviours of the people we are interested in to develop actionable insights that inform the development of interventions to change their behaviour.
Changing behaviour usually involves people giving something up (costs) to gain something else (benefits). We need to understand how people perceive rewards, benefits, costs and barriers associated with both desired and problem behaviours. We can then consider what might be done to incentivise the desired behaviour and disincentivise the problem behaviour.
In designing behaviour change interventions, we need to consider what else competes for our audience’s time, attention, and their tendency to behave in a certain way.
Not everyone is the same, so a ‘one size fits all’ approach is rarely best. Good customer insight allows us to identify audience segments, grouping together people with common characteristics, and to tailor interventions accordingly.
Social marketing – like commercial marketing – involves using all of the Marketing Mix i.e. the ‘7Ps’: Product, Price, Place, Promotion, Process, Physical Evidence and People. It’s about much more than just raising awareness.