What I’ve learned from the social marketers

Speaker gets off platform to sit with the audience.o the audience

The three case studies I’ve written about – eating more eggs in Malawi, reducing obesity in South-East England and reducing the demand for bushmeat in Kinshasa – were just a few I learned from at the World Social Marketing Conference last month.

A lesson that came through loud and clear from several speakers was the importance of listening to your target audience, which is why I’ve used a photo of one of the speakers coming off the platform to sit down with the audience. Too many campaigns fail because the marketers assume they understand the audience’s needs and don’t ask the right questions.

An experienced social marketer told us she decided to test the assumptions behind a campaign to combat malaria in Zimbabwe. She travelled to one of the villages in the target area to see for herself what, if any, progress had been made in deterring and destroying mosquitoes.

Having seen the posters (could everyone read them?) and the advice on how to spray their walls (what walls?), she asked the villagers what they worried about. The answer was “Elephants”.

But what about malaria? she asked. Well, they knew all about malaria, it was endemic, but their immediate problem was keeping elephants from trashing their crops. (credit Gael O’Sullivan)

Another lesson that ran through many of the case studies was the importance of working with your target audience, rather than talking at or to them.

One social marketing agency had devised a process called co-design, making sure that they identified the right people to involve in a campaign and asked them the right questions. It was important that those involved felt their views were heard, especially if they found it hard to talk. (credit Claremont Communications for behaviour change)

The next big Social Marketing conference takes place in Johannesburg in April 2023.

That’s the end of my series of posts on social marketing.

If there’s any copywriting or website planning I could help you with, please contact me.