A well defined strategy is vital in a PCT's Social Marketing efforts. Not only does it demonstrate to the Public that their local NHS has a considered approach, but also ensures that staff and any other stakeholders are consistent in their practice, all singing from the same hymn sheet.
Dudley PCT's Strategy is a great example of a PCT embracing and fully understanding the concept of Social Marketing. The document was published in 2007, but still remains entirely relevant. It can be downloaded from here.
A concise explanation of Social Marketing leads into an introduction where it states key problem areas within Dudley that could benefit. As with commercial marketing, identifying goals and aims is massively important. A general 'increase the public's health' objective is far too broad. Breaking it down into specific targets makes attaining them more achievable, as well measuring progress more practical. It also increases efficiency by only focusing on those areas of the populace that need attention, rather than approaching the whole.
The strategy then goes on to discuss segmentation further, making a very valid point;
"Many people see marketing as a form of communications, but the area is much more complex that this, marketing allows organisations to understand their audience in detail and to segment this audience into similar groups, for example, by demographics such as age, sex, geographical location, by behavioural traits and by needs and wants."
This understanding is great to see. For Social Marketing to be truly effective, a thorough knowledge of the audience is paramount. Not only does this help identify those target, problem areas, but also defines which campaigns to run and how to go about them. Every so often I'll see a marketing campaign aimed at teenagers using the sort of 'teen speak', such as 'fab' or 'groovy', that hasn't actually been spoken by youngsters for decades. It's fairly obvious it's been written from an assumed, stereotypical point of view, with little understanding of the modern audience. It has no chance of engaging and may even insult the audience. Without that in depth understanding, any campaign could do the same.
The PCT's insight is demonstrated further, as the Strategy goes on to discuss why Social Marketing is needed. Within this section is a great diagram showing that behavioural change is achieved through a staged process, rather than a single intervention. Educating the Public on health risks is only the first stage, with the desire to change, having the necessary skills, etc, all needing to be supported as well. Social Marketing offers the tools and methodology to help address all these stages, ensuring change is effective and long term.
The Strategy then outlines the key objectives, followed by responsibilities of the Board, Managers and Communications Heads. These highlight important points, such as considering Social Marketing as a viable alternative for preventative campaigns and allotting reasonable time to fully understanding audiences further.
Have a look at the strategy for yourself at the link above. Does it cover all the bases?
Further documentation regarding Dudley PCT's attitude towards Social Marketing are available below;