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Commercial, social and emotional marketing

Like conventional businesses, social enterprises must effectively market their products and services to customers in order to sustain and grow their operations.

In keeping with the hybrid nature of social enterprises, their marketing campaigns may draw from a variety of strategies, some geared toward commercial success and some geared toward social and behavioral change.

Commercial Marketing

The word marketing often conjures images of the iconic logos of brands like Starbucks, McDonald’s, Apple, or Coca-Cola. These are all examples of successful commercial marketing, in which the purpose of advertising campaigns and other marketing strategies is primarily financial gain. Through their advertising and brand development, these corporations have achieved near-universal name recognition and broad global customer bases.

Social Marketing

Social marketing, a concept first put into practice in the 1960s, combines principles of commercial marketing with other theories of the drivers of human behaviour. In contrast to commercial marketing, social marketing aims to generate social good rather than just monetary profit.

The earliest examples of social marketing were public health campaigns that used advertisements and other marketing materials to encourage family planning and other behaviours perceived to be in the best interest of society. Such initiatives are still common. The Tips from Former Smokers campaign by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States, for instance, uses striking images of the negative health effects of smoking to discourage tobacco use.

Social and commercial marketing may sometimes be closely allied, as in the example of the PRODUCT(RED) campaign to raise awareness of and funding for HIV/AIDS through partnership with popular brands.

Emotional Marketing

Appeals to potential customers’ feelings, attachments, and beliefs about themselves constitute emotional marketing. Emotional marketing may serve social ends, commercial ends, or both.

TOMS Shoes is one brand that has successfully deployed emotional marketing strategies to promote its product. Using the tagline “One for One”, TOMS donates a pair of shoes for each pair purchased. Because of this association with charitable assistance, people who buy and wear TOMS can feel good about displaying their support for a this cause (and this brand) on their footwear.

Your Turn

In the comments below, give an example of a marketing campaign that your social enterprise – or one that you know about – has implemented successfully. What elements of commercial, social, and/or emotional marketing did this campaign incorporate?

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This article is from the free online course:

Social Enterprise: Growing a Sustainable Business

Middlesex University Business School

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