Spare Change

making a difference with social marketing
by Nedra Kline Weinreich
Britt Bravo (I just love her name - she sounds like a superhero!) tagged me to participate in a new meme [definition] that's going around. I guess this is the blogger equivalent of a chain letter, minus the threats to my health and fortune if I don't pass it along. But this is actually a topic that I would want to post about at some point anyway, and I think most other bloggers would as well.

The question is, "What five resources - online or otherwise - would you point people to, if you wanted to give them an entry into your field of expertise?"

So here are five useful resources I would recommend to those who want to learn more about social marketing:

1. Bill Smith of the Academy for Educational Development is one of the best minds in the social marketing field. He has compiled a number of his articles and presentations on social marketing into an e-book called Social Marketing Lite (pdf), which is written in an easy-to-read and conversational style.

2. Tools of Change is a great website that offers specific tools, case studies, and a planning guide to implement social marketing programs.

3. The annual Social Marketing in Public Health Conference is hosted by the University of South Florida in Clearwater Beach, FL each May or June, and is the best place to get up to speed with the current state of social marketing knowledge and practice. They offer a preconference introductory training for people new to the field, the conference itself with both plenaries and in-depth workshops, and a field school the following week for those who wish to receive training in specific social marketing topics. I always highly recommend this conference for anyone who is interested in becoming a social marketer, whether or not their focus is on public health issues.

4. The Turning Point Social Marketing National Excellence Collaborative is a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-funded project that offers numerous downloadable publications about social marketing, information on training, free CDCynergy social marketing planning CDs and more.

5. And for the latest news and cutting edge thinking on the topic, I go to R. Craig Lefebvre's blog On Social Marketing and Social Change. He always has something interesting to say.

For those who want to get into more depth after checking out these five resources, I have compiled many other useful social marketing-related links and articles on my website and Squidoo lens.

And now, who to tag to continue this chain? I will pass the torch to some of my favorite bloggers whose fields do not overlap too much with me or each other:

Rohit Bhargava to list 5 resources for becoming an interactive marketer

Robert Avrech to list 5 resources for becoming a screenwriter

and I'll take a big chance and invite Guy Kawasaki to list 5 resources for becoming a product evangelist.
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A new study from Ekant Veer at the University of Auckland highlights the importance of distinguishing between educational approaches and motivational ones in developing messages for a particular target audience. While social marketing does not equal public education, sometimes you need to raise awareness and educate people about an issue before they can move to the next stage of behavior change.

The study, designed to identify the most effective approaches to prompt overweight children to want to lose weight, tested two types of messages -- educational and motivational. The research first identified four distinct groups within the high school population, as described by Veer:

"Firstly we have those who are 'Unaware and Don't Care'," he says. "This group know that they are not their ideal size, but don't think about weight loss enough. However, subconsciously they want to lose weight.

"Then there are the 'Blissfully Unaware' who don't think about their size and, when prompted, say they are happy with the way they look. This group subconsciously doesn't want to lose weight.

"Our third group is students who are 'Ready to Go'. They don't like their current size and are consciously looking to lose weight.

"Finally we have the 'Beautifully Big' who love the size they are and consciously do not want to lose weight."

Not surprisingly, each group responded uniquely to the different approaches, when shown advertisements designed with the two types of messages. Here are the results:
"Students in the 'Blissfully Unaware' group were 30 percent more likely to lose weight when they were shown both types of advertisements rather than just an educational one. 'Beautifully Big' students were 15 percent more likely to respond to the educational advert than the motivational one.

"The differences weren't so marked for the 'Unaware and Don't Care' students who showed a slight preference for the motivational advertisements.

"As expected, the students in the 'Ready to Go' category were 22 percent more likely to lose weight than the other groups, and had no preference for either type of advertisement. This is probably because they had already made the conscious decision to lose weight and advertising was unlikely to increase their desire. Most important for this group is that they have access to feasible and effective weight loss programmes."

Overweight high school students are not a monolithic market segment. Beyond their demographics and medical stats, good social marketing research identifies the key attitudinal and behavioral characteristics that determine how the audience will respond to a given approach. What do they think about their weight? Do they want to lose weight? Have they tried losing weight on their own? What do they need in order to help them move to the next step on the path toward behavior change?

Craig Lefebvre recently posted on what to consider as you segment your target audience for a social marketing program. He says that your segmentation scheme needs work if (among other things):
  • It reads like a page from a census document.
  • It is overly concerned with the consumers’ identities to the neglect of which behavioral features matter to current and potential audiences (for physical activity - what types of activities, under what circumstances, for how long, when and with whom are some of the features that can be considered).
  • There is too little emphasis on the actual behaviors of the audience (these are the audience profiles where you feel all 'warm and fuzzy' about the audience but don’t have a clue about what they do when it comes to engaging in the target behaviors or any of the possible competitive ones).
  • There are no obvious implications for how to position the desired behavior versus competing ones, what incentives to offer, what barriers to address, where and when to provide opportunities to try and/or engage in the behavior, and what promotional strategies and messages may be most relevant for the audience.
So, before everything else must come an understanding of who your target audience is and what makes them tick. Only after you know this can you determine whether an educational or motivational approach (or a combination) will work. And even then, you will still need to test the messages with the different segments of your audience to make sure you're right.

Don't make assumptions about who your audience is and how they will respond -- they may surprise you.
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Last year, I decided to learn to play the cello. Although I had studied piano for at least a dozen years as a child, I was bored with that instrument (though I still shlep my kids to piano lessons). I'd always loved the mellow sound of the cello, and promised myself that when I retired and finally had extra time, I would take cello lessons. But after seeing Yo-Yo Ma play at Royce Hall at UCLA last year, I decided that there was no point in waiting; if I thought I would enjoy playing, I should start getting the pleasure now and make time for it.

I knew that a string instrument would be very different from the piano. But I didn't know just how difficult it was to produce notes that sounded like they came from a cello rather than an injured goose. Even now, almost a year into lessons, I still constantly wince at the squeaks and squawks that I make.

I'm lucky to be someone for whom most things come pretty easily. In school, at work, in life, I have not had to work very hard to master things I have to or want to do. But learning the cello has made me more humble. I'm finding it a major challenge, and something I have to work at over and over to develop the skills I need in fingering, bowing and reading music written only in the bass clef. I'm enjoying the process, but boy is this hard work.

This reminded me of a story told to me by a good friend of mine, who was an elementary school teacher for many years. She went to a continuing education class for teachers in which the instructor insisted that, as part of the class, each student must learn to juggle by the end of the course session. My friend had no experience juggling and her first attempts were laughable. She was frustrated and did not want to continue. But as she and her fellow teachers spent more time learning from a patient juggling expert, she saw herself get better and better. Finally, as part of the final exam, she had to demonstrate that she had learned the juggling skills, which she did (mostly). At the end of the last class, the instructor explained that the frustration they had felt in having to learn these difficult skills was similar to what a child struggling with a learning disability might feel when asked to read a paragraph of text. The point was that the teachers should have empathy with the children they are asking to learn new and complex skills.

And yes, this all ties back into social marketing. Think about the sorts of things we ask our target audience to do. Eat a healthy diet, tracking everything from fiber and salt to fat, carbs and antioxidants. Figure out how and where to get a colonoscopy. Carve out 30 minutes a day in their nonstop lives to exercise in between getting the kids ready for school, working long days, doing the grocery shopping, chauffeuring the kids to their afterschool activities, making dinner, doing laundry and collapsing into bed. These require skills that do not come easily to everybody. And many social marketing behaviors must be done several times a day or week, which is unlikely to happen if someone does not feel confident that they are capable of doing them.

For my cello teacher, who played in the LA Philharmonic for over 30 years, playing Bach comes as second nature. But I, who can barely scratch out Clair de Lune, need lots of help developing my skills. As you develop your social marketing program and figure out what you will be asking the target audience to do, make sure that you either do not ask them to do something that's beyond their current capability or that you help them develop the skills they need to be able to accomplish the behavior. What comes easily to you might be a huge barrier for someone else.

Now, back to practicing.


UPDATE: Photo Credit: eforto
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How do you convince someone to contribute to your cause - whether in time or money? This is the eternal question for most nonprofit organizations. Another big question is how to get your cause in front of millions of potential donors.

Canadian organization Right to Play seems to have done something right. They are "an athlete-driven international humanitarian organization that uses sport and play as a tool for the development of children and youth in the most disadvantaged areas of the world."

After winning the Olympic gold medal in speedskating, American Joey Cheek announced that he would be donating the entire $25,000 that he would receive from the US Olympic Committee to Right to Play to support their programs for refugee children from Darfur who are now in camps in Chad. After placing second in Saturday's race, he pledged the $15,000 he would receive for his silver medal. Even more impressive is the fact that, as a speedskater, he is not rolling in corporate endorsement deals -- $40,000 is a substantial proportion of his income for the year.
In the traditional post-competition news conference, gold medalists generally describe the thrill of victory and the agony of previous defeats. But Cheek would not address that lighter side until he had made his announcement, well aware that the world might never again pay attention to him.

"I can take the time to gush about how wonderful I feel," he said, "or I can use it for something productive."
Cheek challenged his corporate sponsors and other Olympic advertisers to match his donations. Since his gold medal win, over $250,000 of pledges have come in from ten corporate sponsors and other donors via Right to Play's website. Their website received about 100,000 hits in just two days after his announcement.

How has Right to Play succeeded in bringing all of this attention to itself? First, the president and CEO of the organization, Johann Koss, is an Olympic speedskater himself, who donated the proceedings from his own gold medal to RtP's precursor organization. He has assembled an international roster of hundreds of athletes who serve as ambassadors and supporters for the organization's message. As a role model, he is able to motivate his peers to join him through his credibility and understanding of what other athletes need in order to participate.

Second, the organization is promoting itself in a venue that is logically tied to the program's mission and target audience. Having a presence at the Olympics is an obvious piece of the strategy. They have a "hub" in the Athlete's Village in Torino where the athletes can learn more about Right To Play and pledge their intentions to be a Right To Play Athlete Supporter. They are sponsoring a photo exhibition in downtown Torino that highlights the work RtP is doing around the world. Athlete-signed merchandise is being auctioned off on eBay, and they also have their own branded sweatshirts and other items on sale in Torino.

Finally, they provide compelling programs that channel athletes and sports fans into a way of helping less fortunate children and communities that utilizes their existing skills and interests. The focus of their SportWorks program is child and community development, while their SportHealth programs "leverage the convening and influencing power of sport to provide health education and encourage healthy lifestyle behaviours. Specifically, SportHealth teaches the importance of vaccinations, HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria prevention." What athlete wouldn't want to do what they do best while also helping save lives? Right to Play capitalizes on the appeal of their program methodology, not just their outcomes.

For a look at other programs communicating about health through sport, take a look at the Communication Initiative's latest issue of the Drum Beat.

UPDATE:
Nancy Schwartz at the Getting Attention blog has posted an analysis from the other side of the coin -- what did Joey Cheek do right to bring attention to both the cause and himself?
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This week's Carnival Of Marketing is now up at Simplenomics. I'm excited to have one of the seven featured articles up this week, and there are many other interesting posts as well. I hope you will check it out!

I will be hosting the Carnival in May, and am looking forward to it. Great job this week, Mike!
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I've had all I can stands and I can't stands no more. - Popeye
Social marketing. It's brand-new, word-of-mouth, viral, social networking, blogging, buzzing, consumer-generated media, right?

WRONG!

Looking at Technorati results, you would think that "social marketing" is all about the use of new media, social networking and Web 2.0 applications. Because bloggers have these things on their minds, not surprisingly, they write about them. But increasingly they are using the term "social marketing" as a catch-all phrase to describe what I would call "social network marketing."

Google the term. You'll see that the phrase "social marketing" already has a very specific meaning. I would define it as the use of marketing techniques to bring about positive behavior change related to health and social issues. You have to go through five pages of search results that follow that definition before you come across a link to Forrester Research, which offers a "Social Marketing Boot Camp" on "new technologies like blogs, social networking, and RSS."

Even people who should know better, like Chris Perry (Sr. VP at PR company Weber Shandwick), who says "he has followed the social marketing movement through the Going Social blog since 2002," are using the term incorrectly. CMO Magazine ("the resource for marketing executives") ran a story called "Social Marketing in Four Flavors," which talks solely about word of mouth, blogs, RSS and podcasting. And the Association of Internet Marketing and Sales is offering an event called "Social Marketing: Tapping Into The Power Of Connected Customers" that is clearly not about bringing about social change, but bigger profits. I have found many other examples as well.

Keeping these two marketing subdisciplines distinct and clearly defined is in everyone's best interest. Imagine the confusion that someone searching for information on blogging or word of mouth marketing would have if they googled "social marketing." There is not a useful link for miles around in Google distance. Likewise, I am constantly frustrated as I search for others writing on my kind of social marketing in the blogosphere. Everyone is better off if the term keeps the meaning it has had for a quarter century, rather than having the new definition propagate until nobody knows what anyone else is talking about.

This is not to say that social marketing does not or should not use the many useful tools offered by social network marketing. But they are not one and the same.

So, new "social marketers," please continue the great work you are doing. But let's come up with a new term to use - whether it's "social network marketing," "consumer-generated media," "social media," "word of mouth marketing" or anything else you prefer.

But leave us our one small piece of semantic real estate.
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The Darfur Digital Activist Contest brings together student activism, technology and the cachet of the MTV and Reebok brands. mtvU (the network's college student-targeted website) and the Reebok Human Rights Foundation are offering up to $50,000 for the development and marketing of a computer-based game designed to raise awareness and stop the genocide in Darfur. They have selected three student team finalists and voting is going on right now to select the winner.

The games include a child running to fetch water while dodging Janjaweed in jeeps, a Darfurian survivor returning to her burned out village while navigating threats to her survival, a simulation of a UN worker trying to keep rival tribes apart, and an action game in which the player works to disarm the Sudanese government infrastructure through nonviolence.

While I don't generally connect video games with reducing violence, this is a clever and creative way of engaging students through a medium with which they spend a lot of time. And MTV has turned over development of the product to the members of the target audience who know best what will be effective with their peers. It will be interesting to see whether the final game actually makes an impact in awareness. With $50,000 behind it and the promotional resources of the network, it could be quite successful.
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Who would have suspected ten (or maybe even five) years ago that cell phones would evolve into a multifunction tool that allows you to surf the internet, check your email, take pictures, send text messages, download and listen to music, get GPS directions, keep your schedule and contacts organized, play games, watch TV, and have your fortune read -- let alone talk on the phone? How many of us foresaw a few years ago that millions of people would share their deepest personal and professional thoughts on blogs (over 27 million blogs now, with a new one starting each second)? How do these trends affect what we do to try to reach our target audiences?

Trendwatching.com gives us insight into the techniques they use to track consumer trends in their latest briefing on Tips & Tricks on How to Become a Better Trend Watcher. What exactly is a trend? They define it as “a manifestation of something that has ‘unlocked’ or newly serviced an existing (and hardly ever changing) consumer need, desire, want, or value” -- something that we definitely need to pay attention to as social marketers.

The three main challenges they lay out that we face in watching and using trends in our own work are:

  1. Management and corporate culture (‘They’re just not into trends’)
  2. Resources (Information overload or starvation, lack of time and/or lack of funds)
  3. Understanding and applying trends (How to think Big Picture? What to actually do with your point of view?)
They offer ways to deal with each of these challenges. Here is their handy list of the types of resources you can use to spot trends:
  • Papers, websites, blogs, news, newsletters (online and offline); also see VIRTUAL ANTHROPOLOGY
  • Magazines (online and offline), books
  • TV, movies, radio
  • Seminars, fairs, trade shows
  • Eaves-dropping, chat rooms, conversations
  • In-house trend units
  • Advertising at large
  • Other trend firms, thinkers (philosophers, architects, sociologists), management gurus
  • Street life, travel
  • Friends, colleagues, family
  • Customers(!)
  • Trend reports
  • Consultants, researchers, experts
  • Universities
  • Shops, museums, hotels, airports
  • Catalogues
  • Competition
And once you have identified a trend, what then? Ask yourself if the trend has the potential to change any of the following:
  1. Vision
    Influence your company's vision
  2. New business concepts
    Come up with a new business concept, an entirely new venture
  3. New products, services, experiences
    Add ‘something’ new for a certain customer segment
  4. Marketing, advertising, PR
    Speak the language of those consumers ‘setting the trend’: we haven’t come across too many trends that were not useful in shaping (part of your) marketing messages.
  5. Internal
    Improve your organizational processes
I highly recommend reading the whole article and exploring trendwatching.com's database of trend briefings. They are fascinating and may help you look at what's happening around you in a whole new way.
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Social marketers increasingly need to be web-savvy in order to take advantage of online opportunities to promote their issues. Part of my hope in writing this blog is to help people working in social marketing to utilize the Web 2.0 tools that harness the power of social networks to spur individual and social change - ideas like user-generated content, peer networking, and the development of online communities.

I have just learned of a project called NetSquared (tagline: "remixing the web for social change"), which works to provide nonprofits with the know-how to adopt new online technologies. It's a great website to use to learn more about how the web can augment your social marketing programs or nonprofit outreach efforts.

Daniel Ben-Horin, president of CompuMentor, which created NetSquared, describes its mission:
We will catalyze the catalyzers. We will use the new tools and culture shift to engender conversations among the early adopters (who often don't know of each other), between early and later adopters, between nonprofits and technology developers, between nonprofits and the growing army of technology helpers, and between all of the foregoing and the major technology companies (who have so much to gain from this dialogue in terms of marketing and realizing technology's social potential).
If you are reading this blog, it's likely that you are already pretty conversant with using the web. Many in the social marketing field, though, still think of the internet as only websites and e-mail. We need to move toward Social Marketing 2.0 so we can utilize the widest possible set of tools available to us. I will be putting together a workshop to teach social marketers how to use the latest technologies in their programs, so please let me know if you have any interest in this issue.

Also, NetSquared will be having a conference in May that will bring together nonprofits, technology people, philanthropists and others involved in the confluence between these groups.
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In an editorial on Sunday in the LA Times, Maria DiBattista asks whether movies can change people's minds about social issues, using "Brokeback Mountain" as an example:
Movies can envision the need for social change, but it is unclear that they can help bring it about. They are better at pointing the way to a different, happier, more fulfilling life. Not the least interesting thing about the hopeless love dramatized in "Brokeback Mountain," which garnered eight Oscar nominations last week, is how many social hopes it has inspired. Ang Lee, after winning the award as best director at the Golden Globes, hailed "the power of movies to change the way we're thinking," although he later thought it advisable to wait to "see how it plays out."

...Movies can take on the great social problems of their time, but they may be the least effective — or appropriate — medium for solving them. Did "Gentleman's Agreement" mark the beginning of the end of anti-Semitism in America? Did "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" make it easier for interracial couples to marry? Did "Wall Street" help unseat the captains of industry and discredit their doctrine of "greed is good"? Name any "problem film" — whether it deals with discrimination (racial, ethnic, sexual or religious), social reform (of schools, prisons, legislatures) or corporate corruption (national or global) — and you will come up with the same unimpressive results. The more designs a movie has on us, the less willing we are to change our minds, much less our social and business practices.
I have to disagree with her premise. I think that movies -- whether feature films or TV movies -- have the potential to change attitudes and beliefs, and ultimately to bring about individual and social change. In many cases, a movie may be the first exposure an individual has to a particular topic, raising the awareness that a problem exists. Think "Erin Brockovich" (environmental hazards), "Hotel Rwanda" (genocide), "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" (mental institutions) or the recent "Human Trafficking" on Lifetime, which I've discussed over on Craig Lefebvre's blog.

When health issues are portrayed and humanized in a movie, viewers are left with a richer understanding of what it must be like for a person with that condition and the people who take care of them. Movies like "A Beautiful Mind" (schizophrenia), "My Left Foot" (cerebral palsy), "Philadelphia" (AIDS), "Children of a Lesser God" (deafness), "Rain Man" (autism) and "Lorenzo's Oil" (adrenoleukodystrophy - ALD) are all examples of stories with sympathetic characters that bring us into their world. Awareness is the first step to understanding, which may then lead to a desire to do something and make a difference -- or at least be more sensitive to people with these conditions.

Organizations addressing the crisis in Darfur actively promoted the viewing of the film "Hotel Rwanda" precisely to get people involved in confronting the current genocide. The miniseries "Human Trafficking" is part of Lifetime's strategy to raise awareness of this issue with their audience and get them to take action. Movies can be the catalyst for individual and social change.

Micki Krimmel makes the point on the WorldChanging blog that
To a surprisingly great degree, the real power of films to affect social change is determined by the marketing...

Hollywood marketers should take a cue from social action groups, and not just by copying their grassroots marketing model. There are clearly large groups of people out there who care about social causes and are just waiting for a movie they can get behind. If people believe in something, they'll market it for you.
The irony is that when the Hollywood marketers get hold of a film with the potential to spark social change, they minimize the controversial or issue-based aspects of the movie to make it more palatable to a broad audience. This then waters down the appeal of the film to the people who would be most likely to take the issue and run with it if they had been mobilized as part of the marketing strategy.

Movies can be powerful. They let us live someone else's life for 2 hours. They can help us understand the world from another's viewpoint. They can show us things we would never see in our own lifetimes. When a movie comes out that addresses the issues you care about, use the opportunity to galvanize others and harness the power of film to change hearts and minds.

UPDATE:
I just came across this website - Participate.net - that is associated with Participant Productions, where Micki Krimmel (linked above) works. Participant Productions is a film company started by Jeff Skoll of eBay, which produces movies specifically intended to bring about social change. Their recent films include Syriana, North Country, and Good Night and Good Luck. Participate.net explicitly seeks to link the social action component described above with each movie. Whether or not you fall on the same side as them politically, this is a very interesting model with great potential for social marketing.
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I have no interest in the Super Bowl. I guess that's awfully un-American. Yet, yesterday I found myself at a family Super Bowl party, lured by the prospect of guacamole, chili and cornbread. So, while I must admit I did actually watch some of the game (who was playing again?), I paid much more attention to the commercials. Some were clever, some were annoying and some just made me say, "huh?" It's not a good sign when you can't remember what product the commerical was promoting as soon as it's over.

While I saw plenty of ads for beer, cars, soda, beer, fast food, dot coms, beer and beer, I was disappointed tha
t there was not much social marketing to be found. The NFL ran some PSAs of its own, promoting its players' efforts to help after Katrina, and encouraging people to get involved with the United Way.

Dove, partnering with the Girl Scouts, launched its Campaign for Real Beauty to boost girls' self-esteem about their appearance.

In Minnesota, the Minnesota Partnership for Action Against Tobacco ran ads to raise awareness of the effects of secondhand smoke. I don't know if other organizations ran Super Bowl ads locally.

To see all of the ads that ran nationally, go to iFilm.

I realize that most organizations doing social marketing cannot afford to purchase an ad on the Super Bowl. A 30-second spot cost $2.5 million and reached between 90 million and 130 million people -- many of whom were actually paying attention to the commercials. For a social marketing campaign targeting issues like men's health, alcohol abuse prevention or obesity, this would have been a sterling opportunity to make an impact as well as generating buzz.

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This campaign is just plain creepy. The Washington State Health Department's Tobacco Prevention and Control Program is running a series of TV ads viewable on the AshtrayMouth website that are basically Fear Factor meets Chucky meets the Truth campaign. Though the premise is that kissing a smoker is as gross as kissing an ashtray, they take it way beyond that.

In the ads, with a spooky music box playing in the background, the expressionless, mute doll children stuff disgusting things like dead rats and cat hairballs into their mouths while putting the moves on their girl/boyfriends, who then leave without comment.

On the website, if you have the stomach for it, you can also play a game that involves selecting various disgusting items like worms, rotten tomatoes, dirty socks and cockroaches, then putting them into the mouth of the creepy doll head of your choice. The items splatter all over the dolls' faces as they eat and we then see a comment that says something like, "Yum, smoker breath!"

Now, I know that I'm not part of the target audience for this ad. And my first reaction was to be viscerally repulsed and want to get away from the website as quickly as possible. So if this campaign was developed using a social marketing approach and found to be effective with the youth it is targeted toward -- who have grown up watching people eat bugs on Fear Factor -- then more power to them for taking this unorthodox angle. I can't stand this campaign, but it may be an illustration of the principle I often espouse that it doesn't matter what you think of a campaign if you are not a member of the target audience. What matters is how they respond to it.

Let's hope, for the sake of all the Washingtonian grown-ups who may come across this campaign, that the kids are responding.
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2.01.2006


The Wall Street Journal this weekend ran a story entitled "Beating the Odds: How a gamble on defibrillators turned Las Vegas into the safest place to have your heart give out" (no link - they require an online subscription for access). People at casinos are generally at a higher risk of cardiac arrest because of their age, heavy smoking and drinking while gambling, huge buffets, and sleepless nights at the slots (not to mention the stress of losing lots of money).

The story described how a Las Vegas-based paramedic named Richard Hardman found that 50% of the cardiac arrest episodes his department handled took place at casinos -- usually with a casino security officer standing right next to the victim. He launched a campaign to get the casinos to train their security officers in how to use a defibrillator, and had a hard time at first getting past the objections of the lawyers. But he and his partners in this project perservered and succeeded by using several effective methods:
  1. They partnered with a researcher interested in studying the use of defibrillators by lay people to establish data showing the effectiveness of the program. They did a pilot study with seven casinos to start collecting data.
  2. They prepared the security guards for success in every possible scenario by acting the role of a collapsed patron in various real-life situations.
  3. They leveraged their first success story -- a man who happened to come into one of the seven pilot study casinos just before going into arrest and was revived with a defibrillator by security officers. When the other casinos saw the publicity that one received, they wanted their staff trained as well.
  4. They found ways of removing the barriers to adoption of this program -- by making sure that casino executives understood that the defibrillator would only work on somebody who was clinically dead with no pulse or breathing function; by lobbying to have the state's "Good Samaritan" law extended to include users of defibrillators; and by arranging a donation to casinos of about 30 defibrillators.
The study showed that the program was a big success -- 53% of people who suffer sudden cardiac arrest at casinos survive -- compared with the national average survival of well under 10%. When a defibrillator was used within 3 minutes of the collapse -- not impossible given the close monitoring that casinos conduct of their patrons -- the survival rate increases to 74%. Now every large casino operator owns dozens of defibrillators and trains their employees to use them. In the past nine years, Las Vegas security officers have restored the heartbeats of about 1,800 gamblers and employees in their casinos.

This is an impressive case study of how to get a new product adopted and in widespread use -- and by someone who probably did not even realize what he was doing was social marketing.
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