Strategic Marketing Sustainable Development Article

What Is Social Marketing? And How Does It Work?

What is social marketing

Social Marketing – Not to Be Confused With Social Media Marketing;

Social marketing campaigns are those that borrow from commercial marketing techniques for the purpose of social engagement–influencing a target audience to change their social behaviours and to benefit society. Whether it’s related to the environment, public health, safety, or community development, marketing for good is a methodology for creating change.

History of Social Marketing

As a formal discipline, social marketing started in 1971 when Philip Kotler and Gerald Zaltman published their article Social Marketing: An Approach to Planned Social Change” in the Journal of Marketing. Since then, marketers have been playing with social marketing ideas, refining the strategies, and working on the most effective means of spurring widespread changes in social behaviour in a variety of fields. Today, public health and environmental concerns top the list of most used social marketing topics.

What social marketing is and isn’t

There are many approaches to obtaining a societal change through effective social cause marketing, but the central tenant always remains the same: the social good is always the primary focus. Whether it’s trying to convince the public to stop smoking or encouraging men in developing counties to use condoms, the focus is always on the public good first.

Social marketing therefore should not be confused with other similar terms: social media marketing, green or sustainable marketing, and commercial marketing with a social focus.

  • Social media marketing is that which uses social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn. These are collective groups of web properties that are published primarily by users for the purposes of building online communities. They can be used to generate publicity for social marketing campaigns, but that is not their primary purpose.
  • Sustainable marketing is that which is used by a corporation to demonstrate their corporate social responsibility. Although a commercial company may engage in social marketing–promoting support for public radio, for instance–sustainable marketing for the purposes of promoting their own business does not qualify as social marketing.
  • Commercial marketing with a social focus may run the gamut from advertising a new 100 percent recycled plastic water bottle to encouraging people to buy a more fuel efficient car. While these marketing campaigns are promoting eco-friendly products that will certainly have benefits for society, their primary focus is not societal good, it is selling a product.

According to the Institute for Social Marketing, these are the most important social marketing strategies and concepts:

  • The ultimate objective of marketing is to influence action and change behaviour;
  • Action is undertaken whenever target audiences believe that the benefits they receive will be greater than the costs they incur;
  • Programs to influence action will be more effective if they are based on an understanding of the target audience’s own perceptions of the proposed exchange;
  • Target audiences are seldom uniform in their perceptions and/or likely responses to marketing efforts and so should be partitioned into segments;
  • Marketing efforts must incorporate all of the “4 Ps,” i.e.:
    • Create an enticing “Product” (i.e., the package of benefits associated with the desired action);
    • Minimize the “Price” the target audience believes it must pay in the exchange;
    • Make the exchange and its opportunities available in “Places” that reach the audience and fit its lifestyles;
    • Promote the exchange opportunity with creativity and through channels and tactics that maximise desired responses;
  • Recommended behaviours always have competition which must be understood and addressed;
  • The marketplace is constantly changing and so program effects must be regularly monitored and management must be prepared to rapidly alter strategies and tactics.

8 Examples of Social Marketing in Advertisements:

PG Palmoil Advertisement by GreenPeace USA
PG Palmoil Ad by GreenPeace USA
Buckle Up Advertisement by Quebec Insurance Association
Buckle Up Ad by Quebec Insurance Association
Save Paper Advertisement by WWF
Save Paper Ad by WWF
Coke Recycling Advertisement by GreenPeace AU
Coca Cola Recycling Ad by GreenPeace Australia
Anti-Smoking Advert by The NHS
Anti-Smoking Ad by The NHS
Human Rights Advert by Amnesty International
Human Rights Ad by Amnesty International
Censorship tells the wrong story by reporters without borders
Censorship Ad by RSF
Skin Colour Ad by Licra
Skin Colour Ad by Licra



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