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Social Marketing 

The term Social Marketing was introduced over 25 years ago by Philip Kotler and Gerald Zaltman, two of many pioneers in the field.  It was based on the question: “Why can’t you sell brotherhood like you sell soap?” 

Comprehensive Definition of Social Marketing:

“The application of commercial marketing technologies to the analysis, planning, execution and evaluation of programs designed to influence voluntary behavior of target audiences in order to improve the voluntary behavior of target audiences in order to improve their personal welfare and that of society.”  Alan Andreasen, Author of Marketing Social Change.

Social Marketing Today

Today, Social Marketing is a structured planning process, as well as a mindset. It helps you develop evidence-based programs, custom designed to resonate with the knowledge, needs, wants, desires and even dreams of the distinct priority populations you want to reach with your programs, strategies and interventions.

Throughout the years social marketing has been used to influence behaviors around seat-belt use, physical activity, domestic violence, safer sex, obesity, smoking cessation and more. It has emerged as a major component in many Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) programs and state health departments across the country.  In fact, in December 2010, social marketing was officially added to the Healthy People 2020 Objectives.

Click here to see how it has reached a critical point in driving social change across the globe.

What Are the Benefits of Social Marketing?

  • More effective programs:  It allows you to make well informed decisions about each element of your program from problem analysis to evaluation.  It prevents you from relying totally on your assumptions and “expert” opinions by requiring you to speak and listen to the needs of your priority population.  This allows you to develop customized comprehensive strategies that are more likely to lead to true behavior change.
  • More efficient use of very limited resources: When funding is limited or programs are being eliminated, it is critical to know where you can receive the best return on your investment which often means focusing your efforts on narrowly defined priority populations.
  • Increased opportunities for funding:  More funders of public health programs such as the CDC, the National Institutes of Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation are using social marketing. Put your program in an advantageous position to receive funding by incorporating social marketing into your work. Your programs will stand out from the competition.

For more information or social marketing assistance, contact:

Eric Greene, MA

Social Marketing Consultant


Last Reviewed 10/28/11