Thursday, May 31, 2007

Social Marketing and Health Care

This is grim yet full of hope.

Toby at Diva Marketing Blog has a thought worthy interview here. (cross posted at Daily Fix). She talks with Nedra Klein Weinreich who has written an entry on the Pandemic Leadership Blog. Health and Human Services Department has gathered 14 contributors to the blog. Early preparation in the event of a severe outbreak could result in better containment. Ms. Weinreich asks the question - "How do we persuade people to do the right thing"? (my bold marks)

"Generally, governments and organizations have used three ways to bring about social change or action on a broad scale. First, through education — telling people the facts and hoping they will do the rational thing to protect their families and others. Providing lists of supplies, statistics about likely morbidity and mortality, and medical symptoms are all part of the educational approach. Unfortunately, as we know from issues like smoking and exercise, knowledge is often not sufficient to bring about behavior change. Second, coercion by passing laws or enacting policies at the governmental or organizational levels can be very effective. This method might be necessary to enforce quarantines, but we can’t very well legislate the purchase of an adequate supply of emergency food by each household. The third approach is social marketing, persuading people to take action by appealing to their values and emotions by “selling” the desired behaviors using the same effective techniques as companies like Apple or Nike."
I've not given pandemic flu more than passing consideration. I wash my hands and don't mess around rubbing my eyes too much. I get a flu shot each year. Knock on wood - the flu has avoided me for several years. The strains are getting more resistant to anything medical science has developed AKA avian flu. We all remember a few years ago when a vaccine was in short supply. And when you get to my age - well - you start taking extra precautions. Not to mention added concern for aging relatives.

So really what caught my attention with Ms Weinreich's post is the value she places on social marketing and the page link to "what is social marketing"?

"Social marketing was "born" as a discipline in the 1970s, when 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 define 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 used extensively 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."

Ms. Weinreich continues with a paragraph on the 4 P's of the marketing mix - Product, Price, Placement (distribution) and Promotion. Sound familiar? Then proceeds to give an example of this marketing mix strategy for breast cancer screening.

This is the potential that communities built around social marketing hold in changing the world. Its not necessarily as simple as posting and commenting - but it does offer a channel for education and hope.

Thanks Toby and thanks Nedra for leading the way.


Toby said...

Bob - Thanks for continuing this conversation and for your kind words. Who would have thought that a government agency would be a source of inspiration for social media marketing strategies?

BobG said...

Your welcome, Toby. It sends a hopeful message. I trend slightly cynical when it comes to government action (see Hurricane Katrina) but remain hopeful. What's encouraging is the the focus on community potential.

Thank YOU for commenting :)

Mimi Lenox said...

On the groovy peace globe hunt. Checking in. Hope you're having a marvelous day!

BobG said...

thanks Mimi - always good to hear from you