What Exactly is Social Marketing?

social-marketing

What Exactly is Social Marketing?

The idea of Social marketing came to effect in the 1970s. During that period Philip Kotler and Gerald Zaltman realized that the same marketing principles that were being used to sell products to consumers could be used to “sell” ideas, attitudes and behaviors. Kotler and Andreasen mentions 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.” This technique has been apllied in international health programs, especially for contraceptives and oral rehydration therapy (ORT), and is being used with more frequency in the United States for such diverse topics as drug abuse, heart disease and organ donation.
Similar to commercial marketing, the primary focus is on the consumer–on learning what actually people want and need rather than trying to persuade them to buy what we happen to be producing. Marketing communicates to the consumer, not about the product. The planning strategy takes this consumer focus in the implementation of the elements of the “marketing mix.” This refers to decisions about 1) the basics of a Product, 2 Price and value, 3) distribution (Place), and 4) Promotion. These are often called the “Four Ps” of marketing. Social marketing also adds a few more “P’s.” At the end is an example of the marketing mix. It has evolved from a single-dimensional reliance on public service oriented skills to a more sophisticated and calculative approach which draws from more fruitful techniques used by commercial marketers, termed “social marketing.” Rather than dictating the way that information is to be conveyed from the top-down, public health professionals are learning the key skills to reach by the needs and desires of the target audience themselves, and building the program from there and this is far more goal oriented. This focus on the “consumer” involves in-depth research and constant re-evaluation of every aspect of the program. In fact, research and evaluation together form the very cornerstone of the social marketing process.