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Queensland Stay On Your Feet® - Toolkit Phase 2 Social Marketing Plan

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Social Marketing Plan

If you are undertaking a social marketing campaign, you will need to develop a social marketing plan that clearly identifies how you will reach your target group and measure the campaign's success. A social marketing plan focuses on the external communication of the project/program to the target group.

Please note that a communication plan differs from a more comprehensive social marketing plan. A communication plan simply plans and keeps track of communication activities (allowing process evaluation), whereas a social marketing plan sets measurable objectives for change in the target group as a result of communication activities (allowing impact and outcome evaluation). As a project team, you should decide which type of plan you wish to prepare as only one of these two types of plans is required. Staffing and financial resources may influence this decision.

To prepare a social marketing plan, you will need to consider the following key elements:

Market research

The first and most important step for social marketing is to identify and understand your target group (older people) and the problem (falls) [158]. It is important to identify the factors that will influence the behaviour of your target group [158]. This will include understanding the target group's attitudes, beliefs and knowledge of falls and falls prevention, including the words and images they relate to and their motivators and barriers.

As the main aim of social marketing is behaviour change, you will need to link your social marketing plan to models and theories of behaviour change. This will help to identify why people behave as they do, what else you will need to know, and how to shape your strategy [162].

You will need to conduct market research to form a better understanding of your target group and key stakeholders. Reading literature, reviewing similar campaign results, analysing existing statistics and conducting interviews and focus groups with the target group can all assist with this task. Another useful market research tool is a community stocktake. You may have already collected enough research for the social marketing plan in Phase 1 of your project/program.

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Market segmentation

Market segmentation is breaking down the overall target group (for example: people aged 65 years and over) into smaller sub-groups. Market segmentation helps to identify the information needs of each segment and reduces competition with other marketing material aimed at the wider target group [158, 164].

Research shows that older people do not like to be treated as one large group and considered 'all the same' [163]. By breaking down the overall target group, you can identify smaller sub-groups with common generational traits, characteristics, and abilities. The overall group can be broken down according to age group, location, where they live, income, values, interests, behaviour or falls risk.

Other factors such as the influences of peers, significant others and the wider social context (for example: social norms and structures) may also have an impact on the target group [157].

For tips on marketing to seniors, visit 'Tips for marketing to seniors' on the Department of Communities website.

Objectives

Develop a specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely (SMART) social marketing objectives that links to your project/program. The evaluation of your social marketing plan will link to the objective/s. For example:

  • By 2009, 50 per cent of the Queenslanders aged 65 years and over will believe that falls are not an inevitable part of ageing.
  • By 2010, 25 per cent of Queenslanders aged 65 years and over will be doing a balance activity such as Tai Chi at least once a week.

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The marketing mix

Your marketing mix is the combination of products, prices, places (distribution channels), and promotions you use to meet your social marketing objectives.

Product

The product on offer to the target group is a complex change in behaviour that will be beneficial to them and the wider community [157, 165]. The core product is the benefits from the changed behaviour [165] such as improved health, wellbeing, independence, improved strength and balance and reduced falls. The product can include:

  • the adoption of an attitude, belief or value [165] for example: falls are not an inevitable part of ageing
  • the adoption of a behavior that is either one off [165] for example: installing grab rails in the bathroom or a sustained behaviour such as exercise on most days of the week
  • a tangible product offered to support the behaviour change [165] for example: Tai Chi classes.

Price

In social marketing, the price of the product is the cost the target group incurs when adopting a change [157]. This cost includes financial costs and other costs such as time, effort, psychological and emotional impact and physical discomfort. When considering price, group these costs into those that are incentives and barriers to the behaviour change. This will help you to develop strategies to reduce barriers and strengthen the promotion of incentives.

Place

The place refers to where people will perform the new behaviour and where they can access the products, services, or message [165]. Falls prevention information is accessed through health professionals, the local newspaper, radio, current affairs, information sessions, and word of mouth.

Other factors to consider when placing the message, product, and/or service are:

  • which media channels [157] are preferred (research shows 94.4 per cent watch commercial television; 86.1 per cent read newspapers, excluding suburban; 85.4 per cent read magazines, 59.1 per cent listen to commercial radio) [167]
  • whether to use the internet (research shows Australian retirees are the world's second biggest internet users) [168]
  • which distribution networks are considered credible and trusted [157] for example: general practitioners, specialists, other health professionals, government health and aged services [147, 152]
    "trusted interpersonal channels e.g. friends and peers [157]
  • a physical place where older people will access information or services (venues need a location close to public transport with adequate parking and disability access) [157]
  • non-physical places may also support your message eg. social, cultural norms and values [157].

Promotion

Promoting the desired behaviour change to the target group involves more than just developing a logo. The tone, personality and emotional benefits of the product all need to match the target group's needs [157]. Methods of promotion include:

  • branding, for example: Queensland Stay On Your Feet® trademark
  • advertising (television commercials and radio/print advertising)
  • public relations (developing goodwill through activities such as launches)
  • media publicity (advocacy for unpaid media coverage using media releases and media interviews)
  • direct mail
  • interpersonal communication (for example: word of mouth via health professionals and peer educators).

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Monitoring and evaluation

Evaluation of social marketing is very similar to the evaluation of projects/programs. To evaluate a social marketing strategy properly, you will need to undertake formative evaluation (market research), process evaluation, impact evaluation and outcome evaluation.

Formative evaluation

This involves conducting focus groups with the target group and key stakeholders to determine their reaction to key messages and materials. This will also involve adapting materials according to their responses and conducting further focus groups.

Process evaluation

Process evaluation involves monitoring and recording social marketing activities, including:

  • the number of resources distributed
  • the number of commercials aired, television news coverage and total air time
  • the number and content of print media coverage
  • the reach of the materials (recorded by the number and proportion of the target group who reported receiving the materials and/or seeing and hearing the commercials)
  • the number of people who attended events relating to the project/program, for example: expos.

For a template showing Communications activity, visit: Media Log

Impact evaluation

Impact evaluation measures any changes in the target group regarding key objectives of the social marketing plan, including:

  • the ability to recall key messages (prompted and unprompted)
  • changes in attitudes, for example: a shift in attitudes from believing falls are inevitable to believing falls are preventable
  • changes in behaviour, for example: increased physical activity
  • changes in intention to undertake the promoted behaviour.

Outcome evaluation

Outcome evaluation measures whether the social marketing campaign has contributed to the overall reduction in falls and harm from falls.

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Last updated: 7 August 2012