28 August 2019

Background on social marketing strategy and impact

Author/Compiled by
Urs Heierli (Antenna Foundation); Raphael Graser (Antenna Foundation)

Executive Summary

social marketing

This factsheet conveys the importance of an orchestrated social marketing campaign to the interested reader and provides some useful tools on this matter.

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What social marketing techniques should you use?

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Many businesses use various social marketing techniques in parallel, but there is a need to orchestrate these activities through a strategy to maximise impact. Businesses can either hire a marketing bureau (e.g. Hydrologic hired the company “17 triggers”) to help to design marketing campaigns or compose a marketing strategy in-house. PATH’s Commercialisation Toolkit includes a specific chapter on Marketing, which can help entrepreneurs to design a marketing plan and learn more about specific marketing tools. Additionally, the Sales chapter provides some communication materials (including examples from Cambodia and Vietnam) for HWTS marketing and sales.

Learning from Spring Health: when Spring Health introduced water melas (street plays and water testing), it was learned that people would buy Spring Health Water, provided the delivery boy came the next morning. Indeed after some days, people had “forgotten” that there were impressive bacteria level in their water tests and therefore that they should change their behaviour. It is thus important to combine social marketing with marketing (harmonizing the water testing mela with the next day delivery) and with other social marketing campaigns, for example introducing Spring Health water at schools also.


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The impact of social marketing campaigns is often difficult to measure and may only be felt over a long time. For example hygiene education in schools may only have an impact on the next generation. There are some successful examples using randomized control trial (e.g. People in Need/17 triggers). Monitoring and evaluation of behavioural change should be conducted to measure impact.

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