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Social change: Marketing can help

Social Marketing is used to deliver social change.

Marketing is respectful. Best practice marketing works in lasting partnerships to deliver change that sustains over time.

Trade centres on exchange. Exchange is the understanding that two parties come together to give and receive goods, services and ideas, sometimes for money.

A little bit of history

Based on the concept of exchange, marketing emerged as a science. Over time marketing theories such as value, have evolved, explaining how I win – you win strategies can be used to sell more products and services. Marketing started with a pure focus on selling more goods and services and it wasn’t until 1950 that the idea first emerged that marketing could be used to sell ideas.

The field of social marketing emerged in the 1970’s long before Facebook, Twitter and other social and digital media came along effectively taking over our field’s name. Phillip Kotler introduced our very first frameworks. Based on these early frameworks initial work in the social marketing field was heavily promotion focused, changing how communities thought about health, environmental and social issues. Much like how advertising influences our consumption behaviour.

It’s all about people

Today, we still see examples of communication only campaigns. However, marketing is much more than communicating with people. Marketing can deliver products, services and partnerships to support people to change from one behaviour to another.

Philosophically, marketing thinking starts and ends with the people at the heart of the problem. As a consequence all decisions made, wherever possible, are centred on the interests of the people at the heart of the problem. Sometimes the vested interests of decision makers can overlook the needs and wants of others and the best marketers work to avoid this at all costs.

A marketer gains participation by ensuring a clear benefit is delivered for all involved. A social marketer doesn’t reduce obesity by talking about health. Instead they would understand that an overweight person knows they should exercise more and that an exercise gym full of fit people is not a place an overweight person is attracted to. Armed with this understanding a marketer would design an alternative strategy.

For example, a marketer’s strategy may be designed to overcome the loneliness experienced by overweight people. They might deliver a program that brings small groups of like minded people together, in a comfortable setting, to walk. This approach would create a socially supportive environment leading to increased rates of physical activity and overcoming loneliness.

Marketers respect people and operate with the understanding that we are all different.

We matter

The way we think, behave and what we each know is a result of our lived experience. Every individual person has a unique lived experience and marketers never lose sight of this. You are all experts. Each and every one of us can come together to deliver social change.

If you are involved in behavioural change I challenge you to make sure that people at the very heart of the problem are always present in planning meetings and they are consulted with at all times. We can no longer afford to think that we know best because we can’t fully comprehend the lived experience of others.

Your task

What did you find most interesting in the course? How do you think this will help you in future? Please post your comments below.

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Social Change: How Can Marketing Help?

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