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Social marketing’s bottom line is behavior change. Some health behaviors are relatively straightforward, while others—such as COVID vaccination—have been highly complex. Here are five tips to stay focused and flexible when marketing for any public health concern. Learn more in our related blog post

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Five Lessons of Social Marketing for Public Health   

Social marketing’s bottom line is behavior change. Some health behaviors are fairly straightforward, while others—such as COVID vaccination—have been proven to be highly complex. And no matter where your audience lies on the behavior change continuum (See #5), it’s more important than ever to begin with the end in mind. Here are five tips to stay both focused and flexible when marketing for any public health concern. 

  1. Focus on the outcome. Keep the goal in mind so you don’t get derailed by setbacks, such as the expectation of herd immunity that has yet to be reached. Use your goal as a touchstone to remain on target when challenges seem insurmountable. 
  2. Balance scientific rigor with flexibility and speed. Expect revisions and updates to the science. In an effort such as COVID vaccination, we encountered our share of surprises, such as a critical audience segment we’d not anticipated at the start—the white, non-Hispanic rural community that required careful research and compassionate communication.  
  3. Plan for the “tried and true” strategies, but look for innovative mediums too. FMG partnered with communities and their trusted messengers to effectively reach underserved populations through social channels and local events. Find the “sweet spot” through multiple venues and voices sharing the same message in different ways. 
  4. Roll with the punches. Nothing can be a “hard and fast” rule when you’re faced with an evolving virus and changing science. Set aside things that you can’t control while optimizing those you can. 
  5. Educate your team on behavior change to manage expectations. The Stages of Change Model, or The Transtheoretical Model was first designed by Prochaska and DiClemente in the 1970s to explain the stages of intentional change in smoking cessation. The model outlines the cycle of developing healthy behaviors and can be used at any point in your campaign to assess the stage of your audience(s), then influence a move to the next stage.  

 

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