Back to Index
social marketing for nonprofits
Circa October 2007
To many nonprofit managers,
marketing equals fundraising. But your organization exists for more
than just bringing in donations. By using social marketing methods,
you can boost the effectiveness of programs and activities that
are the reason your organization exists—to make a difference.
Social marketing uses
the same tools and techniques of commercial marketing, but its purpose
is to bring about positive health and social change. Social marketing's
bottom line is behavior change.
Social marketing as described
here is distinct from the more recent usage of the term by bloggers
and social network marketers to label peer-to-peer or consumer-generated
media. The field of social marketing has been around for over a
quarter of a century, used to address issues around the world, from
family planning to HIV/AIDS, to breast cancer screening.
When social marketers
develop a program strategy, they consider the same elements of the
marketing mix as commercial marketers. However, the social marketing
mix has to be adjusted to take into account the unique nature of
the products and environments with which they work.
What does the social
marketing mix look like, and how is it different from the Four Ps
that commercial marketers use?
The social marketing
product is not usually a tangible item, though it can be (e.g.,
condoms). Generally, social marketers are selling a particular behavior.
While you may be promoting a life-saving or life-improving practice,
quite often social marketing behaviors are things that people don't
particularly want to do—eat more fiber, conserve water, exercise,
get a colonoscopy. To address this issue, use the same tools as
commercial marketing to promote the product's benefits based on
the target audience's core values. Show them how using the product
helps them become the person they want to be.
While adopting the product
may have a monetary cost, the more important price considerations
are social and emotional costs. These include the hassle factor
of performing the behavior, time, embarrassment, deprivation of
something they enjoy, fear of finding a medical problem, or social
disapproval. The strategic issue is to figure out how to reduce
the price as much as possible and make it easy and stress-free to
perform the behavior.
How will you make the
product available? In other words, how and where can people perform
the behavior? The concept of aperture is relevant here; just like
a camera's lens opens and shuts very quickly to let in the light
when you take a picture, you have only a small window of opportunity
to get your message through to the target audience at a time and
place they can act on it. Your potential participants will not go
out of their way to look for your messages—you need to go
to them and provide the opportunity to easily learn about the product
and perform the behavior.
for social marketing do not differ much from those used by commercial
marketers. One key difference may lie in the types of target audiences
addressed. Many are not the types of consumers that a for-profit
business would even consider going after; they may be low-income,
unable to speak English, difficult to find, and/or uninterested
in making any changes in their lives. Social marketers must be creative
in the ways they promote their products to these hard-to-reach populations.
And because of the inherent
challenges faced by social marketing programs, I have added four
more Ps to the social marketing mix.
When planning and managing
a social marketing campaign, you must take into account all of the
people who can affect the success of the program, such as the external
publics—the target audience, groups that influence the target
audience, policymakers, the media, and others outside the organization.
Just as importantly, nonprofit social marketers must involve their
internal publics in the program implementation. These are the people
within your organization—from your Board members and management
staff who must approve your plans, to the receptionist who answers
the phones and needs to know what to do when someone calls in response
to the campaign.
Many social marketing
issues are so big that one organization cannot address them.
Potential partners include
organizations (other nonprofits, government agencies and businesses)
that have one or more of the following attributes: similar goals
to yours, access to the target audience, credibility with the target
audience, interest in sponsorship of your program, or resources
that fill gaps in your organization's capabilities.
Governmental or organizational
policies can act as a catalyst for social change on a large scale.
When policies are put into place that provide an environment of
support for a particular behavior, individuals are much more likely
to sustain that behavior change. For example, workplace nonsmoking
policies make it easier for smokers to quit by ensuring that they
do not see others lighting up around them and removing social cues
Unlike businesses, many
nonprofit organizations are not able to automatically set aside
a percentage of their revenue for marketing activities. Social marketers
must be creative and proactive in seeking funding for their campaigns
from sources such as corporate partners, foundations, donations,
and government agencies.
Use the social marketing
mix to go beyond fundraising. Use marketing to make an impact on
the lives of the people your organization exists to serve.
Please credit www.kubatana.net if you make use of material from this website.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.