Today’s consumer world looks drastically different from decades past. With interest in social issues continually rising, organizations must imagine a philanthropic angle to their business to see how they can get involved. The rewards are high–long-term relationships, trust, and loyalty from customers who align on the same social values. Keep reading to learn more about what social marketing is and how to strategize it for your business!
Is Social Marketing Best for Your Organization?
This type of marketing has become popular in recent times because it seeks to benefit society, not to directly benefit a company’s brand. Consumers are loyal to organizations that match their social interests. Examples of common social issues used with this type of marketing include anti-smoking, anti-drug, anti-littering, safe driving, and anti-bullying campaigns.
In these times when advocacy runs high for social issues, yes, social marketing is a rewarding and beneficial route! Organizations best served by this type of marketing are those passionate about social issues. Not sure where to start? The best social issue to campaign around is the one your organization is most passionate about!
What Is This Type of Marketing?
This type of marketing was developed in the 1970s. By definition, it’s the process of bettering humankind through the use of commercial marketing. At that time, it was discovered that the same marketing principles used to sell products and services could be used to sell ideas, attitudes, and behaviors to promote social change.
One example of this is the prolific seatbelt television ads from years past, reminding folks to wear their seatbelts to promote social change around safety. These ads struck an emotional chord with consumers, reminding parents that their kids’ lives were at stake. They were quite effective and changed the mindset of drivers and passengers as seatbelt laws were put into place.
What Isn’t This Type of Marketing?
Often organizations think this type of marketing is equivalent to social media marketing. However, this is not correct. Social media marketing is when an organization markets on social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube. This effort is done to reach more customers and create better relationships with existing customers.
In addition, organizations can often mistake charity for this type of marketing. For instance, an organization publicizing they’ve donated to a social issue is merely brand promotion. Also, a company marketing its products as social-friendly is self-promotion and doesn’t fall into the category of this type of marketing.
Who Participates in This Type of Marketing?
Usually, charities and nonprofit organizations get involved in this type of marketing. However, government organizations and coalitions launch them, too. Some commercial businesses use this type of marketing for any social issue they’re passionate about. The good news is that these marketing techniques can be learned by any organization and scaled to meet every size audience of customers.
How This Type of Marketing Benefits Your Organization
Consumers care about social issues more today than ever. Therefore, marketing that appeals to a customer’s philanthropic side can create a relationship that regular consumerism can’t compete with. This type of marketing, when used effectively, spreads awareness, builds long-term customer loyalty, captures an audience, and promotes change. By getting behind social issues, you show you care about people more than your brand.
When this type of marketing was first defined, several principles were created with it. The first principle is that an effort should be made to understand an organization’s customers. Customers should be categorized into different groups to understand how to serve them better. Next, a strong communication plan must be strategized and shared with the customers. Customers should be involved in the planning and implementation of the behavior change.
Also, any disruptors and major risk factors should be considered, with mitigation plans put into place. A reduction in barriers is key to ensuring the highest level of involvement. Finally, social marketers should model the highest ethical standards and be held accountable for their actions.
The 4 P’s
The 4 P’s of marketing are commonly known to be price, product, place, and promotion. These are important factors for this type of marketing as well. In this type of marketing, the price is what the customer would have to pay to achieve the desired outcome. The product is the desired behavior. The place is where the behavior takes place. And the promotion is what platforms will be used to reach customers to promote change. Platforms might include social media, radio, billboards, events, and traditional media.
There are six basic steps in this type of marketing. Step one involves having an understanding of the issue, the target audience, and the environment where they will be reached. Step two includes defining the problem and solution. Step three includes gaining insights into the target customer base. Step four includes developing the strategy. Step five includes implementing the strategy. The final step is to review the outcome for lessons learned and also to see if amendments are required.
To maximize effectiveness, the following tips should be considered. First, all 4 P’s of marketing should be strategized and thought through. Minimizing the “price” piece may require a thorough investigation. Customers want the path of least resistance. Maximizing the “place” to reach the most consumers is also beneficial.
In addition, building out a creative and unique campaign to draw attention is critical. Often, a catchy slogan or tagline can be useful, as customers tend to remember these. Utilizing an unforgettable symbol can also be helpful.
Finally, striking an emotional chord with consumers is paramount to the success of any marketing campaign. Using visuals is recommended.
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