Conversations on Social Marketing

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been saving up resources and info to share but just haven’t had a chance to compile them into a Tip Jar. In the meantime, here is a time-sensitive event sent to me by Craig Lefebvre, who says that this free event has over 150 participants registered, making it the largest gathering of social marketers outside of Clearwater Beach (the USF conference).

Conversations on Social Marketing:
A two-part forum on social marketing best practices and approaches.

Monday, November 5 & Tuesday, November 6, 2007
1:00pm – 5:00pm
Jack Morton Auditorium (directions)
805 21st Street, NW
Washington, DC 20052
Foggy Bottom Metro

Offered in collaboration with Population Services International and the George Washington University School of Public, this event is free and attendance is open to anyone interested in social marketing. Each session will conclude with a discussion led by Custom Business Signs Denver Chief Technical Officer, Population Services International. Light refreshments will be served.

Featured Topics and Speakers, November 5:
“Essential Components of Social Marketing for Nonprofit Organizations”
Katya Andresen, Vice President for Marketing, Network for Good and author, Robin Hood Marketing: Stealing Corporate Savvy to Sell Just Causes
“The Application of Brands to Public Health Behaviors”
—Dr. Doug Evans, Vice President for Public Health and Environment, RTI International

Featured Topics and Speakers, November 6:
“The Total Market Approach”
Richard Pollard, consultant and specialist in the Total Market Approach to social marketing management and creator of the “Constraints Resolution Model” for behavior change communication program
“High Frequency Stores Strategies”
—Gregory Cowal, founding member of Global Marketing Services and President, Grupo Sur Promociones

Space is limited. Please register by October 26 (I know I’m telling you past the deadline, but it’s worth trying to get in!) by sending an email to and indicate your affiliation and which day(s) you are registering for.

And speaking of having conversations on social marketing, if you are a Facebook member, I have started a Facebook group called Fun, Easy and Popular Social Marketers, which is an online place for us to hang out together and schmooze about social marketing. We already have about 50 people in the group, so I hope you’ll join us! (The name of the group is an ode to Bill Smith‘s injunction to make our social marketing products seem fun, easy and popular.)

Social Marketing University Update

I’m excited about the 3rd Social Marketing University training that I’ll be leading next week (October 15-17) here in Los Angeles.

I have a few excellent guest speakers, who I think will add a lot to the program. Dr. Deborah Glik, the director of UCLA’s Health and Media Research Group, will be sharing a case study of a social marketing program she developed. Hendre Coetzee, the CEO of MobileCause, will give an insider’s view on how to use mobile marketing to bring about behavior change. And at the Next Generation Social Marketing seminar, Brian Humphrey of the Los Angeles Fire Department (who I wrote about here) will be sharing how he has used social media to extend the reach of his messages and engage the community in his department’s mission.

We still have some spaces available, so if you would like to join us, please register as soon as possible!

CDC Conference Webcast and SMU Early Registration Deadline

I am a little late on getting the next Tip Jar published, but here are a couple of quick items:

The CDC’s National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing, and Media will offer live webstreaming of the opening plenary, keynote, and closing plenary sessions. Though my panel will not be broadcast, here are the sessions that will be:

Wednesday, August 29
8:30 am – 10:15 am (EDT)
Opening Plenary Session

Using Metaphor to Understand and Communicate to Your Audiences
Mary Beth Jowers, Managing Director of Olson Zaltman Associates

Self-Invention and Self-Care: A Yankelovich MONITOR Perspective on Understanding Health Consumers In the Emerging Era of Consumer Empowerment
Dr. J. Walker Smith, President of Yankelovich, Inc.

Thursday, August 30
8:00 am – 8:45 am (EDT)
Special Keynote Session

Applying Social Marketing Strategically: Lessons from England
Dr. Jeff French, Director of the National Social Marketing Centre in London, England

Thursday, August 30
1:30 pm – 3:00 pm (EDT)
Closing Plenary Session
Reaching Consumers

Health Communication Challenges in the Digital World
Dr. Esther Thorson, Professor and Associate Dean for Graduate Studies, Director of Research, Reynolds Journalism Institute, University of Missouri – Columbia

Developing a Collaborative Distribution Channels Strategy
Dr. Robert Spekman
Tayloe Murphy Professor of Business Administration, Darden School of Business, University of Virginia

Also, just a quick reminder that the early registration discount for the next Social Marketing University training in Los Angeles ends on August 31st. Register by Friday, and you’ll get $100 off of the registration fee. We have some special guest speakers who I will announce very soon. Hope to see you there!

Social Marketing University – October in LA

I will be offering another Social Marketing University training this fall in Los Angeles. This is a great introduction to using social marketing to bring about health and social change.

The training lasts 2-1/2 days, with the last half-day focusing on Next Generation Social Marketing. If you are a social marketer who already knows the basics and are interested in expanding your bag of tricks to include newer marketing methods using social media and other technologies — many of the things I write about on this blog — you can register just for the last day.

Here’s all the important information:

Social Marketing University
October 15-17, 2007
UCLA Conference Center
University of California, Los Angeles

Next Generation Social Marketing Seminar
October 17, 2007, 8:30 am – 12:30 pm
included in registration for SMU
OR register separately for seminar only

Complete information about the topics to be covered, hotel reservations, registration fees and what past participants have said can be found on the Social Marketing University information page.

If you register before August 31st, you will receive $100 off the regular price. There are also discounts for additional participants coming from the same organization (send your team to be trained!) and a student discount. Seats are limited, so reserve your spot soon; the last training in Washington DC sold out.

And, as a special bonus just for my blog readers, use this discount code to get an additional $50 off the registration cost of the full Social Marketing University tuition: SMU50.

Technorati Tags: , ,

So You Want to Be a Social Marketer…

For some reason, in the past couple of weeks I have received a flood of emails from people asking how I started working in social marketing and how they, too, can get started in this exciting career. (Cue low-budget daytime TV commercial: “Do you want to train to be a social marketer, or just look like one? Come to the Barbizon School of Social Marketing!”)

I came to social marketing through an interest in health communication and using the mass media to promote healthy behaviors. Out of college, I had worked developing content at a health promotion software company (which was way ahead of its time in exploring ways to provide health information via videotex and proto-internet portals like Prodigy) and heading up a traffic safety program at a county health department, before going to grad school. While getting my master’s degree in public health, I happened to hear mention of something called “social marketing,” though nobody really talked about it in any of my classes. I landed an internship with Porter Novelli in Washington DC, working on some of their social marketing projects like Five a Day and USAID-funded international programs. And I knew I’d found my calling.

I focused on social marketing throughout my studies, working on building up related research and evaluation skills and marketing/communications knowledge. After graduating, I went back to DC, which was (and still is) the epicenter of social marketing. I worked for a while for a Federal contractor doing marketing for an HHS agency’s clearinghouse, but did not have much opportunity to address behavior change-related issues. I eventually decided to become a consultant and pursue the kind of social marketing work I wanted to do. In 1995, I started Weinreich Communications and was selected to coordinate a social marketing project to prevent unintended pregnancies among young women in six states, funded by the Public Health Service. And many clients and projects later, here I am.

From what I have seen, just about everyone who has been working in social marketing for a while has taken a different route to arrive where they are (though newer social marketers have slightly more straightforward paths available now). Traditionally, there have been two main tracks that feed into the field of social marketing — either from the public health side or via the commercial marketing sector. Becoming more common nowadays also are people with a nonprofit marketing or activist background, particularly coming from the environmental advocacy arena.

Social marketers work in many different settings, including (but definitely not limited to):

  • Public relations/marketing agencies with some social marketing-related contracts, such as Porter Novelli or Ogilvy, or agencies specifically focused on social marketing
  • International development organizations, usually funded by USAID or foundations, such as PSI or the Academy for Educational Development
  • Government agencies at the Federal, state and local levels, including departments focusing on health, the environment, energy and safety
  • Nonprofit organizations at the international, national and local levels
  • Schools and universities

More and more often, you will see jobs with titles like “social marketing coordinator” or “director of social marketing,” which was not very common even five years ago. You might also need to look for a position which is not necessarily focused on social marketing, but in which you can bring its principles and practices in your interventions. So, health educators, project directors, communication managers, and account executives may use social marketing as one tool in their professional belt, or might be able to shape their jobs to focus more on that aspect of the work.

In terms of academic preparation, there are now two schools that have graduate programs focusing on social marketing — George Washington University and the University of South Florida, both from a public health angle. There are many other programs that offer at least some related coursework, either in their public health or business schools. I have compiled a list of the social marketing-related education programs I could find (please let me know if you know of others that should be added). You can also look at schools that have the following criteria (suggested by Mike Rothschild):

  • Great marketing department in a business school
  • Great public health school
  • A faculty person with a strong interest in social marketing
  • A university that has the flexibility to allow the student to work across disciplines to create what is desired

To be prepared for a career in social marketing, I suggest taking courses in:

  • Quantitative research methods/statistics
  • Qualitative research methods
  • Evaluation design
  • Behavior change theory
  • Marketing and communications
  • Mass media
  • Production/design
  • Medical anthropology/sociology/psychology
  • Social change methods
  • Program planning

Of course, a healthy dose of curiosity, creativity and common sense are necessary. And the ability to see the world through someone else’s eyes and realize that we don’t necessarily hold all the answers ourselves help too.

If others (social marketers and otherwise) have additional career advice for people interested in this field, please add it in the comments.

Good luck in helping us change the world – we need you!

Photo Credit: Picture from “Life and Its Marvels,” 1960, uploaded by icklebird
(it shows “how blood cells of one man would stretch round the earth”)

Technorati Tags: , ,

Innovations in Social Marketing Conference – Day 2 – PM

I’m still recounting the events of the Innovations in Social Marketing Conference from earlier this week (see Day 1, Day 2 am summaries).

The afternoon of day two continued with a bang with Craig Lefebvre shaking people up as their dominant media paradigm came crumbling to the ground. If you read his blog (or pretty much any marketing blog these days), you already know how the new media are turning consumers into participants rather than members of a passive audience waiting to receive our messages. I’m not going to repeat the presentation here, but one fact he shared that struck me is that with 60 million members as of July 2006, MySpace is the equivalent of the ninth most populous country in the world (with Rupert Murdoch as its president). By the way, best wishes to Craig on his new position as Chief Technical Officer of PSI. Just a little side gig to add to his blogging.

The conference then featured two Federal programs that are good examples of being customer-focused. Betsy Humphreys of the US National Library of Medicine talked about how Medline and other products have evolved as they get feedback from their users. Because they serve so many different types of audiences — from physicians and researchers to individuals looking for information on their own health conditions, NLM has tried to organize information around common topics in ways that make it more accessible and simple to use.

Jill Abelson of the EPA’s Energy Star program talked about some of the campaigns and partnerships they have built to promote energy efficiency in products and buildings. They have over 9,000 partners including retailers, manufacturers, utilities, home builders and others. Over 2 billion Energy Star qualified products have been sold. Brand awareness of their consumer symbol is over 65%. Working with partners like Home Depot and Sears, they create promotional campaigns that make it easy for retailers and manufacturers to incorporate their materials within their own ads.

In the Q&A, I asked Jill whether they had done any outreach to home improvement shows or home makeover shows on TV, because they seem like ideal partners. I don’t think she quite understood what I was getting at, because she first responded that they do a lot of media outreach, quite successfully. But when I clarified I was not talking about public relations, but product placement within the shows, she said that she thinks it would be too costly and too much “Hollywood glitz” for 5 seconds of airtime. I have to disagree with her on both the cost and potential for increasing use of their brand. If the EPA were willing to invest a little time and money on meeting with the producers and hosts of these types of shows to make sure they understand what Energy Star is and how it could be featured within the shows, it could have huge dividends. Whether the host points out the Energy Star label on a new appliance and explains why consumers should look for it, makes an offhand remark that makes it seem that using Energy Star is just the normal and accepted practice, or the camera just pans over the label while showing a product, all of these things are easy for a show to do and cost nothing. It’s not Hollywood glitz, it’s reaching an audience of people who are primed to follow the advice of their favorite shows (and by the way, the going rate for 5 seconds of commercial airtime is much more than the cost of flying out to LA for a few days to meet with the staff of various shows or execs at HGTV). Just a thought.

I’m going to end the conference recap here. Soon I’ll write another post about the discussion we had about the future of the field of social marketing, but that’s for another time.