The Social Marketing Concept

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According to Nedra Kline-Winreich, author of multiple books on the subject, social marketing was established in the 1970s. This type of marketing aims to achieve a specific type of behavior in order to create some sort of social good.

Philip Kotler and Gerald Zaltman defined social marketing as “differing from other areas of marketing only with respect to the objectives of the marketer and his or her organization. Social marketing seeks to influence social behaviors not to benefit the marketer, but to benefit the target audience and the general society.”

Those curious about the subject need only look to Mad Men’s Don Draper for an example of social marketing. Be warned: spoilers abound in the next few paragraphs.

When his advertising firm was dropped by Lucky Strike Tobacco, Draper decided to strike back. He ran an ad in the Times explaining why he was “quitting tobacco.” Draper then decided to take on a campaign for the American Cancer Society.

Those looking to learn a thing or two about social marketing could probably learn a thing or two from Draper and his application of the social marketing concept to his business. While Lucky Strike once kept the firm out of the red, Draper decided to turn his focus away from money and toward educating consumers about the dangers of tobacco usage (although his motives should probably be called into question).

The Texas Department of Public Safety’s Click It Or Ticket Campaign is another example of social marketing. The department’s programs focus on a few social causes:

– Increasing safety belt and child safety seat usage

– Decreasing the number of drivers Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)

– Increasing Intersection Traffic Control (ITC) safety

– Increasing Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) safety

– Decreasing speed violations and crashes

Click It Or Ticket uses grant money from the federal government to fund its efforts, which include distribution of educational materials, social network marketing on outlets like Facebook and Twitter and law enforcement efforts to find drivers not wearing seat belts.

Many of the organizations that organize social marketing campaigns do so using funds provided by the government or private foundations with an interest in curing the same social ill. Companies interested in taking on social marketing campaigns or incorporating them into their business plan should consider seeking grants of forming partnerships with foundations and interest groups.

Kline-Weinreich reiterates the basic marketing idea that the social marketing concept is about talking to the consumer, not talking about the product. The key to an effective campaign is to remember that the consumer needs the information you’re selling. Their lives will be better off with it. So don’t try to push the idea down their throat. Simply educate them about the issue and why it affects them.