Posts tagged ‘Social Marketing’

Is Talking About Spirituality and Social Change Taboo?

What shapes your world view? How does your world view influence your work to change the world for the better?

Growing up, we’re told we shouldn’t talk about two things: politics and religion. Yet these two things often help set the foundation of one’s world view. How do we go about changing the world for the better if we can’t talk about either? It’s not realistic–Is it?

“If I hear one more politician croak out the words that his or her faith is a private matter, I may just have to go smack them. That is so not reality. All of us have a worldview and that worldview shapes everything we think, act, or do.”  –Kay Warren, Saddleback Church

How does Spirituality + Social Change Add Up?

This post is prompted by two different events:

  1. Learning about the upcoming Justice Conference taking place next month, and
  2. Listening to a keynote address by Kay Warren at Pepperdine University’s 2010 conference, The Role of the Church in Doing Justice

The role of spirituality in social change has a lot to answer for–humans have a history of twisting one to achieve selfish desires and horrific acts. That said, does this mean that spirituality should not be a part of the social change dialogue? When you read social marketing texts or go to conferences, you don’t always hear a lot of chatter about mobilizing the network of the church or other faith-based organizations in efforts. Is it too taboo? How can we bring these two worlds closer together for good?

Mobilizing the Place “P”

The PEACE PlanIn 2009, President Obama created the Office of Faith-Based Organizations and Neighborhood Partnerships, but how can we challenge ourselves–as both practitioners and people with our own world views–to go a step further?

In social marketing circles, practitioners often look at the distribution network of Coca-Cola and ask how can we utilize the place “p” and mobilize it for good? Some, like ColaLife, are already a step ahead of many. In Kay Warren’s address, she discusses how the widespread distribution network that local churches offer can offer a sustainable solution to global health and international development efforts. To highlight the potential of this network, she shows how there are three rudimentary hospitals in Western Rwanda yet 726 churches.

Kay Warren goes on to present The PEACE Plan, a “hopeful response to the five giant problems in the world: spiritual emptiness, self-serving leadership, poverty, disease, and illiteracy.” Kay and her husband Rick Warren (author of a Purpose Drive Life) created The PEACE Plan with the goal to mobilize a billion ordinary church members–or half of the world’s Christian population–to do normal tasks that make a difference in the world.

Who is the Hero?

One of the key points from Kay Warren’s keynote is the value and dire need for servant leadership, people who lead by serving others. This is a mentality and perspective we can bring into every meeting, every conversation and every interaction with others. No matter where you stand on whether or not spirituality is appropriate to discuss in social marketing circles, I personally encourage you to watch the video above. You’ll see common themes between that which we work to achieve in social marketing and the spirituality expressed.

What do you think? How does the spirituality fit into social change? Or, is it too taboo to discuss?

Social Media Is Not a Marketing Strategy

There, I said it. Social media in and of itself is not a strategy (gasp). It does not replace a solid marketing approach or even a communications plan. To be successful, it must be integrated into a larger strategic framework. This applies to organizations as well as programs, initiatives and (my dreaded word) campaigns.

Harvard Business Review recently published an article titled “Separate Social Media From Marketing:”

…we need to break out social media and talk about more than marketing and technology. Instead, we need to talk about what social media enables: the ability to collaborate in new ways — which is particularly important for business leaders interested in creating more collaborative, innovative, and engaging organizations. […]

The use of these platforms can truly transform a business by moving beyond brand marketing. Social media has enabled business leaders to think differently about how they engage and interact with both customers and employees. But just because you’ve opened the door doesn’t mean you’ve crossed the threshold into a new way of working, managing, and leading.

Your marketing team might have the best handle on social media, but what about other departments in your organization? When you change the focus from the technology to more about what the technology enables and what you want to achieve, then you change the conversation. You start to be strategic.

An Opportunity for Social Marketers

Craig Lefebvre on Twitter the other day shared an article on Paramount and how they are changing their approach to mobile from brand awareness to driving a behavioral outcome (buying a movie ticket). How we use social media should also evolve. In fact, how we view marketing and communications in general needs to evolve. Marketing isn’t something you think about “later,” it’s about so much more than communications and it doesn’t live within just one team. It’s integral to your success now and everyone plays a role.

I’ve written before about the “Word of the Year.” As December nears, I’m starting time for reflection early and designating all of December a time to ponder on the past, step back from the present and imagine tomorrow. My first thought? 2012’s”Word of the Year” might just be integration.

New Research Suggests The Color Pink is Bad for Breast Cancer

Gender Cue ResearchA new research area around gender cues and its impact on awareness and fundraising efforts is just getting off the ground according to Dr. Stefano Puntoni, an Associate Professor of Marketing Management at the Rotterdam School of Management, in an interview conducted by Harvard Business Review.

“[Gender que research] is quite new…Over the past 10 years, researchers have put more effort into thinking about consumer welfare. What can we we do as researchers to help consumers make better decisions?” Dr. Puntoni said. “How can we effect change in areas like overeating and disease prevention? This is part of that. We could go more general with gender cue research, but breast cancer is such an important disease that I want to study this more on its own.”

Dr. Puntoni is talking about the findings from 10 different experiments over the past three years that suggest gender cues (such as the color pink) may be counter-productive to campaigns against women’s diseases, such as breast cancer awareness and fundraising efforts. The main insight from the research found that when women saw branding that included gender cues (like the color pink), the branding and ads were less effective. Why? Possibly because the subconscious goes into a state of denial, causing women to:

  • Think they are less likely be at risk
  • Say they are less likely to donate in reaction to a breast or ovarian cancer advertisement

The infographic below created by One to One Global highlights more of the Dr. Puntoni’s research:

Gender Cue Research

Komen Responds

A spokeswomen for Susan G. Komen responded to the research in Ad Age saying that: “The research is food for thought but pink has worked well over the years,” she said. “I would say that in our experience for over 30 years now we’ve been pretty successful using pink. We’ve raised over $2 billion for research and community programs to help people with breast cancer. I don’t want to necessarily discount [the research]. It’s something to look at and consider, but our historic experience has been that we’re doing okay with the pink.”

The AdAge article continues:

Susan G. Komen, who died of breast cancer in 1980, also wore a lot of pink, the spokeswoman said, forming a strong association for her sister Nancy G. Brinker, who later founded Susan G. Komen for the Cure. “It’s not just a random color we selected,” she said. “It actually reflects the connection between the two sisters and the promise that was made.”

Though some have seen success with the color pink specifically, the research around gender cues is “something to consider” for breast cancer and beyond. Just like there’s cause fatigue, perhaps there’s been so much success—that younger generations of women don’t see the risk or the need to donate.

What do you think?

Puntoni, S., Sweldens, S. & Tavassoli, N.T. (2011). Gender Identity Salience and Perceived Vulnerability to Breast Cancer. Journal of Marketing Research, 48(June), 413-424.
flickr credit: ILRI

Margaret Mead Predicts Social Science

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.” Margaret Mead said this in the early 20th century. Who knew that in the early nineteen hundreds, she’d be quoting today’s science?

People and Crowds

A new study conducted at the Social Cognitive Networks Academic Research Center (SCNARC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on how beliefs spread through social networks found that minority rules: Only 10% of a population needs to be convinced of a new or different opinion to change the beliefs of an entire community.

According to the article, there are two main take-aways for those in the public health space:

  • Public health campaigns might do well to target a small percentage of a community.
  • Getting an entire population to adopt a new belief might require simply convincing 10 percent to believe it first.

In an interview, Prof. Boleslaw Szymanski, director of SCNARC, was quoted saying:

“We suggested,” Sreenivasan said, “that instead of trying to convince everyone, it might make the most sense to target selectively the people who are open-minded enough to hear out the evidence and make up their minds rationally.”

Reading through the details of this study is fascinating and so many questions come to mind for future exploration:

  • Is minority rule a good thing? This research helps us better understand the importance to develop messages, materials and services with a certain community in mind to help ignite a movement. However, taken to the extreme, one can’t help but wonder about this insight being applied with misguided intent.
  • Is 10% the tipping point? Once you reach 10% of the population–is that the tipping point for spreading ideas through social networks and alter behaviors on a larger scale?
  • Does this rule apply across the board? According to the article, the research is still in its early stages. It’s uncertain if this 10% rule will apply to all kinds of beliefs, especially political ones.
  • How does this connect with influencer theory? So much has been said about the role of influencers: who they are and how to connect with them–and if that even matters. Craig Lefebvre made a good point during last week’s CDC conference that the hyper-focus on influencers leads to a “distraction from understanding who are the ‘influenced’ and what can we learn from them.” I tend to agree.

What about you–What’s your reaction to this research?

flickr credit: ThisParticularGreg

Still Here–Just In More Places

You may have noticed that I haven’t been posting here quite as often. Part of the reason for this is that I’ve been writing for a few different places over the past few months. I highlight some of the posts below:

  • Have Questions, Not Answers for 2011
    [On Care2’s frogloop Blog] In the nonprofit arena, the word “marketing” can have a bad rap. But you can help change that–and with good reason.  Marketing, in particular, social marketing can make all the difference in your organization’s work come 2011.                                               Read More.
  • In Review, the mHealth Attendee Gaining in Notoriety
    [On Pulse + Signal] This week’s mHealth Summit in Washington D.C rolled out the red carpet for some of the world’s top innovators including Ted Turner, Bill Gates, U.S. CTO Aneesh Chopra and over 2,000 participants from 30 countries. It was a learning hub and feeding ground for those in government, NGOs, research, technology, policy and business. But there’s one attendee I spotted throughout the conference that gained in notoriety and demand—behavior change.
    Read More.

Hopefully, I’ll be back here posting more regularly again soon. However, I’m now starting to understand why, when I tell people that I blog, they ask me: How do you find the time? Well, as you can see, that’s been a bit of a struggle lately. Never fear though–something it always in the works. Until next time, Alex.

flickr credit: Leonard John Matthews

Designing for Community Change

At the beginning of the month, Craig Lefebvre challenged us to 10 “What Ifs” for social marketing in the coming year. At the heart of Craig’s what ifs is a change in perspective in terms of approach. This shift is also reflected in the United States’ recently released Healthy People 2020 blueprint which is committed to improving the quality of our Nation’s health by producing a framework for public health prevention priorities and actions. Compared to Healthy People 2010, Healthy People 2020 includes:

  • Social determinants of health as a new topic area in the Healthy People 2020 framework, and
  • Determinants of Health are also one of the four new Foundation Health Measures which will be used as guides to monitor progress toward promoting health, preventing disease and disability, eliminating disparities, and improving quality of life in the United States.

One of the greatest ways that this shift is being applied in social marketing is by evolving the social marketing approach to influence systems, networks and environments. How? Through design–Let’s take a look at a couple examples.

Bertie County, North Carolina:  Teaching Design for Change

Designer Emily Pilloton is truly inspiring in her approach, her commitment and personal dedication to finding innovative solutions and sustainable approaches to positive social change. Pilloton founded Project H Design, a non-profit design firm where they apply the design process to catalyze communities and public education from within. In the presentation above, Pilloton shares with us the story of Bertie County. The county is the poorest in the state and faces a number of public health challenges that other rural areas may relate to including being a “rural ghetto,” dealing with “brain drain,” and having little access to creative capital.

However, the picture in Bertie County is becoming more vibrant thanks to Pilloton and others working to change the system–the environment. Pilloton walks us through the six steps her firm has applied to make change come to Bertie County:

  1. Design through action.
  2. Design with, not for.
  3. Design systems, not stuff.
  4. Document, share and measure.
  5. Start locally and scale globally.
  6. Build.

In short, Poilloton and the Project H team “design solutions that empower communities and build collective creative capital.” They might not say “we do social marketing” up front–but to me, that’s exactly what they’re doing and we can learn much from them. They are doing the work and taking the type of approach that the shift described above calls for and requires. And shown in Bertie County, this may mean that we need to get our hands dirty, ignite creativity, make genuine connections with those we want to serve, and have a personal conviction to see change happen.

Howard Roads, Virginia:  Designing for Physical Activity

This example comes from Rescue Social Change Group (RSCG). RSCG is a research, marketing and strategy firm where they focus on the relationship between identity and behavior to change behavior through culture. In this specific case, RSCG worked with Howards Roads, Virginia to promote physical activity amongst youth. The reason this case stands out is because it didn’t take the ‘easy button’ approach of pushing “get active” or “exercise more” messages to tweens and teens. Instead, they went a step further and actually designed an environment to promote physical activity for youth. They accomplished this by creating a step dancing league called Step Royale where teams compete throughout the year to earn the title of the best step team in Hampton Roads.

From What Ifs to What Next

Given these two examples, here are three “What Ifs” to add to the list:

  • What if public health wasn’t just about the message but also about the design, the system, the network and the environment?
  • What if public health wasn’t just the responsibility of public health folks but resonated and took root in our communities?
  • What if we didn’t ask what if–but instead, asked what’s next?

I’m almost thinking of a Roosevelt-New-Deal-sense of shared responsibility and commitment. The global citizen can start with us and our neighbors–We can design change in our communities.

Disclaimer: Healthy People 2020 is an initiative by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services–of which, is a client that I work with at IQ Solutions.

Is Public Health a Competition?

The NY Times recently published an article titled, “Tobacco Funds Shrink as Obesity Fight Intensifies,” pitting anti-smoking public health folks against anti-obesity public health folks. The NY Times asked us, in short: Should we focus on addressing obesity over anti-smoking efforts? Is this the right thing?

David Katz, Director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center, published a response via the Huffington Post to examine the “this vs. that” and “right vs. wrong” approach the NY Times took–and asked another question: What choice are we really making?

Now, this is an important one. The NY Times article does do a great job in bringing up the debate: What are our nation’s health priorities? Katz brings up a second good point: How do you divvy resources amongst these health priorities to get the most juice from the squeeze (so to speak)?

First–> Disclaimer–In the words of Katz, I too, am not prepared to answer the NY Times’ question of this or that because I don’t fully know–but then, who does? That said, I have two additions to Katz’s suggestions:

1.  Katz first suggests “conduct modeling exercises to determine what general allocation of research and policy dollars — across an array of conditions, behaviors, and even types of research — would most improve our health over a defined period of time.

To this, I say, that we all need to get more involved and clued into the Healthy People 2020 initiative that is run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (disclaimer:  This project lies within  a client of my employer that I work on). This is a collaborative, science-based approach to setting 10-year national health objectives to promote health and prevent disease. So, when we are talking “this or that” or about our Nation’s health priorities, Healthy People 2020 is a good start. (Stay tuned, in December the Healthy People 2020 objectives will be released along with guidance for achieving the new 10-year targets).

2. Secondly, Katz suggests that we need to be more “holistic.” Going on to say, “A healthy person is healthy…Recent studies have shown that people who don’t smoke, eat well, are active and control their weight are roughly 80 percent less likely to get ANY major chronic disease than their counterparts who do the converse in each case…So, a healthy person doesn’t smoke. A healthy person eats well. A healthy person is physically active.

I couldn’t agree more and this is why–I don’t feel it needs to be an either-or type of situation. It can be all the above. Healthy living (aka living a healthy lifestyle) can be defined by a number of behaviors such as:

  • Not smoking
  • Eating Right
  • Being active

One could argue that other behaviors could be umbrella-ed into healthy living such as getting immunizations or getting preventive screenings. Thus, the message could not just be anti-smoking or anti-obesity, but instead, be about promoting a health lifestyle which encompasses a set number of behaviors. This should be our focus. Thus, I leave you with the same question Katz asks at the conclusion of his Huffington Post article:

What interventions for individuals, families, schools, worksites, communities and more will encourage, promote and empower the adoption and maintenance not of some single preventive strategy, but of healthful living?

flickr credit:

The Story of a Church Making the Impossible, Possible

I wrote this post about a year ago and just re-discovered it this past weekend while doing some blog maintenance and wondered–why did I never post this? This is good stuff!

Yes, in the title, I said the church. I debated sharing this case study because I was afraid people might not read it because it says church. But then I thought, some just might read it because it does say church.

The focus in this post, however, is not the “church.” It’s about a creative, integrated strategy that utilizes a social marketing approach to achieve to strengthen America’s concept of love in the union of marriage. This love is admittedly, from the perspective of the Church, but don’t we always have the question in social marketing of – who decides? (That dear friends is another ethical conversation that can range to anything from paternalism to essentialism and everything in between.)

Onward. Have you taken the Love Dare? Is your marriage Fireproof? In the social marketing realm, there’s been talk about providing tools that equip and empower individuals to not only make personal behavior change but to help evangelize behavior change in their communities and networks. Let me walk you through a movement started at a church in Georgia.

Sherwood Baptist Church created Sherwood Pictures, a volunteer-driven moviemaking ministry in Georgia. This movie studio was created from within its congregation and uses volunteers to act, produce, film and market their movies. Sony caught on and premiered these movies across the United States in movie theaters everywhere. The movie studio’s goal is to harness the influential power of Hollywood to influence behavior change: adopting Christ as one’s God, while also working to address societal issues. Their first two movies were Flywheel, followed by Facing the Giants. Facing the Giants was a surprise hit and was the best-selling resource in Christian stores in 2007.

A Lesson from the Church on Social Marketing

Building on this momentum, their latest movie, Fireproof, went above and beyond the work that even Call+Response or Invisible Children have propelled. Not in terms of raising “awareness,” but due to the plethora of TOOLS the Fireproof movement has around it. First, Fireproof has a few interwoven objectives (according to the makers of the film):

  1. Show what real love is.
  2. Show how this love is integral for a successful marriage that is Fireproof against today’s high divorce rates.
  3. Show how families are a foundation of today’s society that should be nurtured.

I’m not here to debate whether you agree or disagree with the message behind the movie. But look at the TOOLS! These tools help someone commit to changing, take action to change and help them maintain that behavior over time while also encouraging others. What can this teach us about how to provide tools for people to address their health? Not just relationship health, but environmental health, public safety health, civil health, etc.

  • A national launch fueled through grassroots evangelists for “premiere night” with watch parties through already-built church networks.
  • Fireproof DVD and movie at a low price (about $8).
  • At purchase, you can opt-in: 1) their email list survey, their feedback survey, or for their ambassadors survey, where you can get involved in the MOVEMENT for healthy marriages.
  • Download and/or purchase an educational curriculum. This curriculum can be utilized in churches, small groups and/or between individuals to assist in marriage preparation classes or for sermon series.
  • Step-by-step DVD to assist in nurturing healthy discussion about the topics presented in the movie.
  • Because the movie is centered on a concept called, “The Love Dare,” which is a 40-day challenge to love your spouse. The producers of the movie actually wrote a hard copy of the “The Love Dare,” so that any couple can walk through the same process the actors in the movie did to nurture their relationship and/or marriage.
  • And, if you don’t have a way to view the movie, the movie “Fireproof” was also developed into a book for those that prefer reading to video.

As for promotion? It all started with Facing the Giants. A Christian movie produced by a church in Atlanta all by volunteers within the congregation that premiered through Sony in movie theaters across America. Congregations rallied around the movie and its purpose–here again, with Fireproof, people did the same. Couples, churches, communities, businesses, firefighters, and the Catholic community all pitched in to help promote the movement. In addition, any consumer who bought the materials online, could also opt-in to be an ambassador of the movement to arrange get togethers, watch parties and more around the central themes in the movie.

What This Means…

Let’s remember where this all started…at a church, by a group of volunteers wanting to a) show the power and love of God and 2) work to address societal issues in a big way. In other words–they started with their goals. They didn’t see barriers. They didn’t stop at possible. They saw the impossible and made it happen.

What does impossible look like to you? Make it possible.

PS: Interested in Christian churches who are creating a movie-making ministry? In McClean, Virginia, McLean Bible Church has a group of congregation members working to create a Christian movie studio, named In Jesus’ Name Productions. Their first movie, The Messiah, has a $75 million dollar budget and is due out 2012.

Red Light, Green Light or How to Make Change Happen

Change can be a stop-go process, and sometimes, you feel held at yellow for what seems never-ending. On the social marketing list serv, someone recently asked–in so many words–How do you make change happen? You might have this question (I know I’ve asked it plenty of times myself). Today, I’d like to share with you the “traffic light” approach.

In the email, the inquirer specifically wanted to know how to use the concepts and social marketing framework to influence one’s staff and motivate them in their work for change? One of my favorite social marketers is Mike Newton-Ward. Thus, when someone pointed to Jay Kassirer ‘s Tools of Change website and the case study Marketing Social Marketing in North Carolina Public Health–my ears perked up.

The case study shares the journey of how social marketing was adopted by North Carolina, but my favorite part is in the notes section where the author describes the process of change in terms of a traffic light:

We’ve learned to take a ‘traffic light’ approach to introduce social marketing very gradually, rather than a ‘race car’ approach where change is presented suddenly. For example, if you’re in your city and the department of transportation is getting ready to put up a new traffic light. They don’t just put up the traffic light and turn it on and you stop one day. They start out months before putting up a sign that says, “Warning, there’s going to be a traffic light here.” Then finally they put it up and it just blinks for a while. And then finally, they put up the sign or the light, so that by the time they do that, people are used to the idea. This approach helps staff acclimate to a change in their way of doing things.

In a world of instant gratification, patience and perseverance seem like words from the stone ages. But they are important for a reason. Persevering doesn’t mean doing nothing–it means learning, absorbing, and evolving. If given a red or yellow light, we should be looking for the little signs pointing the direction along the way. Or, thinking about the little ways we can influence a behavior, belief or attitude at any turn in the process–even if it’s our own. Because, eventually, the light turns green. Persistence–this is how change happens.

The authors of the case study talk about how to make change happen within an organization, but there’s some core take-aways for anyone working to make change.  Read more lessons learned on the Tools of Change website.

flickr credit: maartmeester

Quote of the Week: Why the Web Was Won

Have you ever been in a meeting and someone tells you: We aren’t in the behavior change business, we just want to raise awareness? You are not alone. Put take heart, there are those who know better. Especially in the times of the Web, behavior change–and micro-choices that lead to a great action–are even more possible.

In a post titled Designing for Networks, Mike Arauz captures the potential of the Web–beyond its ability to be a distribution channel, beyond its ability to influence and beyond its use in achieving awareness:

If you only use the Internet in order to raise awareness, and perhaps to influence perception, then you are missing out on what the Web was made for: to enable large networks of people to come together for effective purposes through sharing, cooperating, and organizing collective action.

It might have been okay to work towards just “awareness” in the past, but with today’s technology, we can achieve more. I believe that the Web increases our ability to measure, evaluate and influence behavior change. The thing is: Behavior change is no longer on the same playing field. Just like journalism is evolving and the media, the way we influence behavior change and achieve behavior change has evolved. We, as practitioners, must evolve with it. I recently came across another quote that embodies this belief from one of the TurningPoint Collaborative’s PDFs, The Basics of Social Marketing:

The process of heightening awareness, shifting attitudes, and strengthening knowledge is valuable if, and only if, it leads to action.

Why do we want someone to know to exercise, eat right, and get their vaccines? Because we want them to act on that knowledge to prevent disease. Why do we want teens to know that drinking impairs their ability to drive? Because we don’t want them to drink and drive and hurt themselves or others.

Your Challenge

This week, think about why the Web was won. Sure–it can house knowledge and be a database of information–but it is more and can be more for you, your organization and your cause. Think about your bottom line–What is it you want to accomplish? Solve? Create? End? Start? Because at some level it involves behavior, especially if you are working in a Web environment. Do you want people to click on a certain link, read a certain story, donate to your causes—these are all online behaviors.

PS: Do you like these challenges? Are these helpful? I want to help you in being effective. And, I know I like prompts–do you?