Tuesday, 17 February 2009

What does Health-Related social marketing look like?

In our experience, the level of understanding and engagement for social marketing varies from PCT to PCT. Some health promotions and communications teams have embraced this and are delivering effective social marketing campaigns in a range of key areas. However, at the other extreme, some in the NHS seem to view marketing as a process of defining which marketing materials would be most effective to deliver a top-down message. They are, however, aware that social marketing is growing in significance in a very big way.

Here is a 5 minute guide to identifying and applying social marketing within the NHS, based on the six key characteristics identified by the National Centre for Social Marketing (NCSM).

Social marketing has:

1: Strong ‘customer orientation’

This reinforces one of the core values more commonly associated with commercial marketing; ‘Understanding the customer’. Appropriate market research would go beyond statistics to incorporate an understanding of the ‘customer’s’ awareness, knowledge, attitudes, beliefs and values.

Key Questions: What are the key drivers? Where are they at, in terms of the desired behaviour of the individual? Where are we at, in terms of the wider social and cultural influences on people?

2: Clear behavioural goals

As any management and marketing book or workshop will tell us, it is essential that we shoot for behavioural goals that are specific, realistic and achievable in the relevant timescale, and phased over the short, medium and long term.

The NCSM will tell us, “we are not just looking at ‘behaviour change’ but also at ‘behaviour reinforcement and maintenance”.

Practical Example: For increased fitness programmes, a behavioural outcome might be taking regular exercise, but the behavioural goals on the way to this might include developing an exercise plan or finding out about local fitness facilities.

3: Using ‘exchange’ concept: “to give something, in order to get something”

This would be demonstrated in an understanding of what a person has ‘to give’ in order to get any offered benefit. The real cost to the customer could include time and effort involved, social consequences, implications of deferring potential enjoyment and pleasure, as well as potential monetary costs. Understanding would therefore focus on: enhancing the incentives or benefits of the desired behaviour AND removing or minimising any barriers in the way of this.

Practical Example: Restricting or banning smoking in public places increases barriers around the negative behaviour, making it harder or less rewarding and attractive.

4: Well developed audience ‘segmentation’

Segmentation would move beyond the traditional focus on demographic or epidemiological factors such as age, sex, class, culture, education, and disease patterns. Segmentation would primarily focus on behavioural factors.

Key Insights: We need to understand “where the audience is at” in relation to adoption and maintenance of the desired behaviour and behavioural goals. For example, are they strongly resisting, willing but feeling unable, contemplating change, uncertain or unaware of the benefits?

5: Based on ‘voluntary’ action

Initiatives would primarily focus on encouraging and supporting particular ‘voluntary actions’, rather than aiming to control or regulate them.

The focus on voluntary action would also extend to wider secondary audiences or ‘key influencers’. Where relevant, this might include specific policy or decision makers, and practitioners that may have important impacts on the primary audience.

Practical Example: In encouraging children to eat more fruit and vegetables, parents are likely to represent a key secondary audience for the success of this programme. Their role both in supporting their child’s acceptance of fruit and vegetables, and in monitoring eating patterns within the home, is crucial. However, the behaviour must stem from the voluntary desire of the child to have a lasting effect, as imposing vegetables may have a detrimental effect.

6: Using ‘competition’ concept

Much like the business world is competing with a vast array of alternatives and bombardment of marketing messages, social marketing initiatives would recognise the issue of ‘competing interests and factors’, and would specifically look at ways to neutralise or minimise their impact on target audiences.

Practical Examples: ‘Anti-health forces’ such as advertising for unhealthy foods or alcohol brands promote negative health behaviours. ‘Pro-health forces’ compete for the attention of the same audience, which could either work synergistically or create message overload. Internal factors could include desires for risking taking or ‘thrill seeking’ which may need to be fulfilled in other areas.

Social marketing: “putting people at the heart of policy, communications and delivery to encourage behaviour change.”

The key to successful social marketing is to take these insights and convert them into intrinsically linked action.

Those in marketing, communications and strategic roles within PCTs and NHS trusts may benefit from the assistance of private sector specialists, who can apply social marketing insights, along with commercial marketing principals and technical know-how, to deliver effective social marketing campaigns.

A Guide to Writing Effective Leaflet and Brochure Copy

This article will cover:

•    The goals of a leaflet

•    Writing the right content for your readers

•    How to write your content

What is the purpose of your brochure? Is your brochure an advertisement? Is it a detailed product description marketing piece? Or to put it another way, what kind of customers will be getting your brochure?

What are you trying to accomplish? Do you want new customers to come into your shop?  Then create interest and excitement with an advertisement type brochure designed to bring them in. 

Or are your customers looking for information? Or in the true sense of the word, are you requiring your brochure for propaganda purposes? Then you want to create a brochure packed with information specifically for them.

It is better to create different brochures to accomplish these different goals. Detailed product information will not entice a new customer to call. A lightweight sales brochure will not satisfy a demand for more information. Define your objective clearly, and use your brochure design to accomplish your goal.

This rule should be followed each time you want to target a different type of audience. If they are important, then you want to tailor your message, and your brochure design, especially for them. 

Unless you have a prominent position in the market place and have a brand guideline in place then generally your logo or company name should be the last thing that is mentioned. Your message should be strong enough to give a call to action (motivate the reader to make the next step, e.g. pick up the phone and make an enquiry).

With every medium of marketing, publicity or for the spread of propaganda, it must be kept in mind that three things use to spread the message:

•    Words

•    Pictures

•    Graphics

The first step involved in the process of writing a leaflet is to be clear in your mind about the message you want to convey to your target audience. You need to write in a clear, concise and persuasive manner, giving all the necessary details. The text must not only be persuasive, but it should also be interesting, punchy, catchy and memorable, all at the same time.

The main points should be highlighted to make them stand out amidst the rest of the body copy. Pictures and layout are two crucial decisions to be taken in order to make the leaflet more aesthetically appealing and visually attractive.

What is interesting about brochures and leaflets is that they're seldom read in the right order. Like we read magazines in dentists' waiting rooms, your readers will flick through brochures and leaflets and stop to take a longer look at bits that grab their attention.

Alternatively, they'll flick all the way through and then go back to bits they've noticed and that have interested them. They're just as likely to flick through from back to front as they are from front to back.

What all this teaches us, is that despite seeming logical, writing for brochures and leaflets in the form of a story that starts at the beginning, goes through the middle and finishes at the end, is not necessarily the best way forward.

There are some tricks you can use to get this random reading pattern to work a bit more effectively for you.

Many people do absorb brochures in the usual order. Even if they don't they still expect to find the introduction at the beginning, the substantiations in the middle and the conclusion at the end.

The trick here is to put the main points in as sub-headings in bold type. Someone scanning the document will get the gist of your message, even if they don't have time to read the body text.

You should also ensure that the sub-headings make sense in their own right and that understanding them is not wholly dependent on their being read in any particular order. Body text should support and expand on each sub-heading and lead the reader towards the next one.

Top 10 Tips for writing Brochure and Leaflets Copy

1.    Copywriting is a skill. If you are a Software Engineer, Electrician, Accountant, you are not a copywriter. If you do write the copy, make sure you get a second opinion on your work. Try to use someone who is not a professional or semi-professional in the field. Listen and take on board criticism.

2.    Most readers at first will only read headlines, subheads, and captions. These must give the benefits and the motivation so that your readers will want to read the rest of the copy.

3.    Use high quality photographs of your products, of handsome people, or preferably of handsome people enjoying the benefits of using your products.

4.    Your brochure copy will be read out of order. Each page or panel should contain benefits and sales copy. This is good brochure design.

5.    Collect brochures from other companies. What do you like and why?

6.    Remember that colours represent different things in different industries. Be careful with your choice of colours. Read our article on the Psychology of Corporate Colours for more information.

7.    Use white space in your brochure design. Crowded copy is hard to read, your photos will lose impact. Use white space to make the most impact on a particular message.

8.    Try not to use more than five or six lines in each paragraph.

9.    Try not to use more than two or three sentences per paragraph.

10.    Leave a space between paragraphs, and do not indent them.

An Example of Good Leaflet Structure

•    Imagine an A5 leaflet. Typically, it may have a front and back cover and a two page spread inside.

•    The front cover lends itself to a single, powerful statement and a hard-hitting graphic to support the leaflet's title. These should be gripping enough to make anyone want to read on.

•    On page two you can set out the problem. For instance, the situation against which you are campaigning.

•    On page three, right opposite, you can explain what you are trying to do about the situation on page two; and how, when and where.

•    Finally, on the back cover, tell us about yourself and your organisation. Don't forget to include contact details for people who want to know more or want to get involved.

•    If you are working in association with another organisation, be sure to mention them. See if you can add their logo to your flyer. Their support will add authority to your efforts.

•    Try not to overload readers with too much information, but do try and answer common questions and concerns. Aim for not too much but not too little.

•    Create accurate models and mock-ups for your brochure. Cut and fold your brochure to size. Use the same type of paper that you will ultimately print on, and review your work.