Hands-on Social Marketing: A Step-by-Step Guide to Designing Change for Good


Nedra Kline Weinreich

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  • Front Matter
  • Back Matter
  • Subject Index
  • Dedication

    For Gil, Ariel, and Leora, who changed me for good


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    When applied correctly and comprehensively, social marketing can be an effective tool for health promotion, environmental protection, economic development, policy advocacy, and other positive social and behavioral changes among individuals and communities. When applied incorrectly, often by using a few selected techniques or strategies instead of the entire social marketing process, social marketing programs are less effective and essentially mislabeled as “social marketing.” By following the step-by-step program presented in this book and using its thoughtful worksheets, you can develop scientifically sound social marketing programs that are likely to be effective for your program goals and intended audiences.

    As Director of the National Center for Health Marketing at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 2005 to 2010, I supported the effective application of social marketing to major domestic and global challenges, including efforts to prevent HIV, increase physical activity, promote influenza vaccine, and increase awareness and action on climate change. In these and other cases, the effectiveness of the program is often predicted by its comprehensive use of social marketing and the extent to which information from and about the target audience informs its development and implementation, sometimes known as its “customer centricity.” This book provides excellent strategies and examples for formative research and audience engagement, which are absolutely critical for developing effective social marketing programs.

    In the decade that has passed since the release of the first edition of Hands-On Social Marketing, there have been enormous changes in marketing and communication with profound implications for social marketing, now and in the future. The proliferation of the Internet and social media has changed when and how people share information in their networks and how they make decisions in their lives. The rapid diffusion of mobile technology domestically and especially globally has created opportunities for empowerment and intervention where they never before existed. The introduction of principles from design and behavioral economics offers great potential for increasing the customer centricity and impact of our programs. These topics are well addressed in this new, second edition of Hands-On Social Marketing and will help social marketing professionals incorporate these important developments into their work.

    I believe this book is well grounded in the science and research of social marketing and its related disciplines yet presents practical information, advice, and strategies in an easy-to-read and easy-to-use manner that will be useful for students as well as novice and experienced social marketers. Following its principles consistently and comprehensively will help you develop more effective social marketing programs. It is a valuable resource that I keep handy on my own bookshelf.

    Jay M.Bernhardt, PhD, MPH, Professor and Chair, Department of Health Education and Behavior, Director, Center for Digital Health and Wellness, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA


    The world of social marketing is a much different one than when the first edition of this book was published in 1999. Over the course of a decade, social marketing has pushed its way into widespread recognition as an effective approach for changing individual and social behavior. While still not a common household term, the professionals in fields such as public health, social services, and environmental protection who need to know about it are at least aware of its existence. Institutions such as the National Center for Health Marketing at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the United Kingdom's National Social Marketing Centre have done an excellent job of promoting the strategic social marketing process to both policymakers and program planners. And a panoply of conferences and books on all aspects of social marketing leads students and professionals alike in learning both theory and practice.

    In addition to evolution in the field of social marketing itself, much has changed in the practice of all types of marketing. While the Internet had already been around for a while when the first edition came out, since then, social media have revolutionized the capabilities and expectations of how people gather and communicate online. The tools continue to grow and change, but the underlying philosophy of bringing “power to the people” and easily connecting with others with similar interests has meant that we have to change how we think about marketing. This paradigm shift means we can no longer just communicate to our audience but must engage with them as well.

    Another strand of marketing that this book develops more fully is how to apply the design approach to behavior change so that we do not need to rely on communication or engagement for people to make the optimal choice. Building in this angle and looking at the social marketing process more broadly has resulted in modifications to the steps as originally laid out in the previous edition, as well as additional chapters.

    While many things have changed in this new edition, what has not changed is the book's focus on helping those both in the field and in the classroom learn how to develop social marketing programs through a step-by-step process of strategic planning and design. Hands-On Social Marketing was written for practitioners who want to apply the concepts of social marketing in the “real world.” Organizations at the community level might not have at their fingertips the benefit of extensive resources and expert assistance that often are found in state and national social marketing programs. Each chapter takes into account the challenges faced by organizations with small budgets and little experience with developing and implementing this type of program. Despite this orientation, the information in this book is equally applicable to those working at the state, national, and international levels.

    The beauty of social marketing is that it provides a clearly defined process for program development. This book explains that process and provides detailed advice on how to successfully accomplish each stage. Moreover, the book is designed to be user-friendly and functional—a tool as much as a teacher. By using the many accompanying worksheets in your planning, you will have a ready-made “consultant” asking you all the right questions as you go along. For best results, read the whole book through before starting to plan your program.

    The main message I hope you get from this book is that you can do social marketing yourself. You do not need to hire a high-priced advertising agency or spend large sums of money to put these ideas into practice. This book emphasizes low-cost research methods and tells how to stretch a small budget without sacrificing quality. The biggest investment you will need to make is mental, not material; it is simply to develop the understanding needed to begin thinking from a social marketing perspective.


    I would like to thank Lisa Shaw, my editor at Sage Publications, who has been enormously patient as I sometimes unsuccessfully balanced working on this new edition of the book with all my other projects. Thank you as well to everyone else at Sage who assisted in the production of this book, including MaryAnn Vail, Catherine Chilton, and Gillian Dickens. A special thanks goes to my husband, Gil, and my children, Ariel and Leora, who are so loving and supportive of everything I do.

    SAGE Publications would like to thank the following reviewers:

    • Martin L. Wood
    • Ball State University
    • Karin Gwinn Wilkins
    • University of Texas at Austin
    • Michele Vancour
    • Southern Connecticut State University
    • Benjamin Tyson
    • Central Connecticut State University
    • Ted Schlie
    • Lehigh University
    • Michael Peterson
    • University of Delaware
    • Beth Offenbacker
    • Waterford, Inc.
    • James Kiwanuka-Tondo
    • North Carolina State University
    • Susan Roberts-Dobie
    • University of Northern Iowa
  • Appendix A: Social Marketing Resource List

    The online resources in the following list are up-to-date as of the printing of this book. Because website addresses change frequently, you can find updated links to all the addresses listed here, as well as downloadable copies of the worksheets and other new resources that become available, at the author's website, http://www.social-marketing.com/booklinks.html.

    Andreasen, A. (1995). Marketing social change: Changing behavior to promote health, social development, and the environment. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
    Andreasen, A. (Ed.). (2001). Ethics in social marketing. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.
    Andreaseny, A. (2001). Marketing research that won't break the bank: A practical guide to getting the information you need (
    2nd ed
    .). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
    Andreasen, A. (2006). Social marketing in the 21st century. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
    Andresen, K. (2006). Robin Hood marketing: Stealing corporate savvy to sell just causes. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
    Backer, T., Rogers, E., & Sopory, P. (1992). Designing health communication campaigns: What works?Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
    Basil, D. Z., & Wimer, W. W. (2007). Social marketing advances in research & theory. Binghamton, NY: Haworth.
    Cheng, H., Kotler, P., & Lee, N. (2011). Social marketing for public health: Global trends and success stories. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett.
    Donovan, R., & Henley, N. (2003). Social marketing principles and practice. Victoria, Australia: IP Communications.
    Glanz, K., Rimer, B., & Lewis, M. L. (2002). Health behavior and health education: Theory, research and practice. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
    Goldberg, M., Fishbein, M., & Middlestadt, S. (Eds.). (1997). Social marketing: Theoretical and practical perspectives. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
    Hastings, G. (2007). Social marketing: Why should the devil have all the best tunes?Oxford, England: Butterworth-Heinemann.
    Heath, C., & Heath, D. (2007). Made to stick: Why some ideas survive and others die. New York: Random House.
    Heath, C., & Heath, D. (2010). Switch: How to change things when change is hard. New York: Random House.
    Kline, M. V., & Huff, R. M. (2007). Health promotion in multicultural populations: A handbook for practitioners and students (
    2nd ed
    .). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
    Kotler, P., & Lee, N. (2008). Social marketing: Influencing behaviors for good (
    3rd ed
    .). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
    Kotler, P., & Lee, N. (2009). Up and out of poverty: The social marketing solution. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Wharton School Publishing.
    Krueger, R. A., & Casey, M. A. (2000). Focus groups: A practical guide for applied research (
    3rd ed
    .). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
    Prochaska, J. O., Norcross, J., & DiClemente, C. (1995). Changing for good: A revolutionary six-stage program for overcoming bad habits and moving your life positively forward. New York: HarperCollins.
    Siegel, M., & Lotenburg, L. D. (1998). Marketing public health: Strategies to promote social change (
    2nd ed
    .). Boston: Jones & Bartlett.
    Thaler, R. H., & Sunstein, C. R. (2008). Nudge: Improving decisions about health, wealth and happiness. New York: Penguin.
    von Oech, R. (2008). A whack on the side of the head: How you can be more creative (
    25th Anniversary Edition
    ). New York: Business Plus.
    Social Marketing-Related Journals
    • Cases in Public Health Communication and Marketing
    • George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services
    • http://www.casesjournal.org
    Online Resources
    • Georgetown Social Marketing Listserv
    • To subscribe, send an e-mail message to LISTPROC@LISTPROC.GEORGETOWN.EDU. In the body of the message write “SUBSCRIBE SOC-MKTG yourname” (with your actual name in place of “your-name”).

    Appendix B: Sample Knowledge, Attitudes, and Behaviors Survey

    • When Someone Answers “Hello”

      Hello, I'm calling with a research firm called Weinreich Communications. We are doing a survey on health issues to help us develop a health education program. We have selected your phone number from a random sample. We are not selling anything, and the survey will take only about 5 minutes. All responses are completely confidential.

      • May I ask how many people between 18 and 24 years of age live in your household?_____
        • If none: Thank you for your time. [Terminate interview.]
        • If 1: May I speak with [him or her]?
        • Yes [Go to Section B.]
        • Not available [Go to Question A2.]
        • Refuses interview [Go to Question A3.]
        • If 2 or more: May I speak with one of them?
        • Yes [Go to Section B.]
        • Not available [Go to Question A2.]
        • Refuses interview [Go to Question A3.]
        • If not home or cannot come to phone:
      • When would be a good time to call back?_____
        • Who should we ask for?_____
        • If person answering phone refuses interview:
      • The interview will take only about 5 minutes and is completely confidential. Our research results will be more accurate if we can speak with everyone who we have randomly selected. May I ask you to reconsider?
        • Yes [Go to Section B.]
        • No Say: Thank you for your time.
        • [Terminate interview.]
    • When You Have the Person 18 to 24 Years of Age on the Phone

      [If different person from who answered phone:]

    I'm working with a research firm called Weinreich Communications. We are conducting a random survey with men and women between 18 and 24 years of age. The information will help us to develop a health education program. The survey will take only about 5 minutes, and your responses are completely confidential.

    • Would you mind taking 5 minutes to answer some questions for us?
      • If yes: Thank you. [Go to Question C1.]
      • If no: Are there any concerns you have that I can answer for you? This will take only a short time, and your answers will not be able to be traced back to you. Our research results will be more accurate if we can interview everyone who we have randomly selected. Can I ask you to reconsider, or can we call you back at another time?
      • If no: Thank you for your time.
      • [Terminate interview.]
      • Check if interview terminated at this point.
    • Initial Demographics
      • How old are you as of your last birthday?_____
      • Just for the record, I need to ask you if you are male or female?
        • Male
        • Female
      • Are you:
        • Single [Go to Question C4.]
        • Married [Go to Question C5.]
        • Separated or divorced [Go to Question C5.]

        If single:

      • Would you describe yourself as:
        • Not dating anyone right now
        • Dating, but with no steady [boyfriend/girlfriend]
        • Dating a steady [boyfriend/girlfriend] or engaged
      • Do you have any children?
        • Yes [Go to Question C6.]
        • No [Go to Question D1.]

        If yes:

      • How many?_____
    • Information Seeking
      • If you had questions about sexual health or birth control issues, how would you get the answers? [Do not read answers. Code first two responses.]
        • Friends
        • Parents
        • Brother or sister
        • Doctor
        • Internet
        • Other_____
        • Butte Family Planning [Go to Question E.]

        If does not list Butte Family Planning:

      • Are there any organizations you would call?
        • Butte Family Planning
        • Other_____
        • No

        If does not answer Butte Family Planning:

      • Have you ever heard of an organization called Butte Family Planning?
        • Yes
        • No
        • Not sure
    • Attitudes

      I'm going to make some statements, and I want you to tell me for each whether you agree or disagree with it. The possible answers are strongly agree, agree, no opinion, disagree, and strongly disagree. [Circle number corresponding to response.]

    • Knowledge About Birth Control Pills and Unintended Pregnancies
      • Now I would like to ask you what good things you have heard the birth control pill can do besides preventing pregnancy. Please name as many as you can.

        [Do not read answers. Code all responses.]

        • Prevents cancer of the ovaries
        • Prevents cancer of the uterus
        • Prevents some types of cancer
        • Relieves premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
        • Relieves menstrual cramps
        • Strengthens bones
        • Protects against some forms of arthritis
        • Helps clear up skin
        • Other_____
        • No good effects
        • Do not know
      • What are the bad things you have heard that the birth control pill causes? Please name as many as you can.

        [Do not read answers. Code all responses.]

        • Acne
        • Blood clots
        • Breast tenderness and/or enlargement
        • Cancer
        • Emotional swings or depression
        • Headaches
        • Heart attack
        • High blood pressure
        • Nausea
        • Stroke
        • Weight gain
        • Other_____
        • No bad effects
        • Do not know
      • What percentage of all pregnancies do you think happen by accident?_____%
      • If 10 young women have sex without birth control a few times a month, how many of them do you think will become pregnant within a year?_____
    • Campaign Exposure
      • In the past 2 months, have you heard any radio commercials about birth control, condoms, or other sexual issues on KAAR-FM or Y-95?
        • Yes
        • No
        • Not sure
      • In the past 2 months, have you seen any newspaper advertisements in the Montana Standard about birth control, condoms, or other sexual issues?
        • Yes
        • No
        • Not sure
      • In the past 2 months, have you seen any posters or drink coasters with the slogan “Don't Kid Yourself” in locations around Butte?
        • Yes
        • No
        • Not sure

        [If answered yes to any of G1, G2, or G3:]

      • After you [heard/saw] the [radio ads/newspaper ads/posters/drink coasters], did you do any of the following? Please answer yes or no.

        [Read each answer and circle if answer is yes.]

        • Think about the message?
        • Talk about the ads with your friends or family?
        • Talk about the ads with your partner?
        • Call the phone number?
        • Make an appointment with a health professional to discuss sexual issues or to get birth control?
        • Use birth control more often?
        • Use condoms more often?
    • Sexual Behavior

      Now I'm just going to ask you for some information we need for our statistics.

      • Have you had sex in the last 6 months?
        • Yes [Go to Question H2.]
        • No [Go to Question H4.]

        [If yes:]

      • I would like you to think back to the last time you had sex. Did you use birth control?
        • Yes [Go to Question H3.]
        • No [Go to Question H4.]

        [If yes:]

      • What type of birth control did you or your partner use?

        [Do not read answers. Code all responses.]

        • Birth control pill
        • Norplant
        • Depo-Provera (the shot)
        • Condom
        • Spermicide
        • Diaphragm/cervical cap
        • Intrauterine device
        • Withdrawal/pulling out/coitus interruptus
        • Rhythm method/natural family planning
        • Other_____
      • Have you ever [become pregnant/gotten someone else pregnant] when you did not intend for that to happen?
        • Yes
        • No
        • Rather not say
    • Income Level
      • My last questions are about your annual income. I am going to list ranges of incomes, and I want you to stop me when I reach the range that includes your income:
        • $0 to $20,000
        • $20,001 to $30,000
        • More than $30,000
      • Do you live with your parents or receive financial support from them?
        • Yes
        • No

    Thank you very much for your time. We appreciate your participation.

    Appendix C: Sample Focus Group Recruitment Questionnaire

    When someone calls in response to focus group recruitment advertisements, determine whether she is eligible through the following questions.

    To determine whether you fit the particular characteristics of the women we need for our focus groups, I need to ask you some quick questions.

    Screening Questions
    • How old are you? _____ [If not 18 to 24 years, then thank caller and terminate call.]
    • Do you have any children? □ Yes □ No
      • If yes: Is your yearly income more than or less than $20,000?
      • More □ Less
      • If no: Is your yearly income more than or less than $15,000?
      • More □ Less
      • [If answer is “more,” then thank caller and terminate call.]
    • Are you currently sexually active? □ Yes □ No
      • [If answer is no, then thank caller and terminate call.]
    Focus Group Assignment Questions
    • When you have sex, how often do you use a method of birth control (either prescription or from the drug store)?
      • Always
      • Most of the time
      • Half of the time
      • Rarely or never
    • Have you ever become pregnant when you did not want to be? □ Yes □ No

      Assigned to the following focus group:

      • Group 1: Contraception always or most of the time
      • Group 2: Contraception half the time, rarely, or never
      • Group 3: Had unintended pregnancy
    Group 1Group 2Group 3
    □ Thursday 10–12□ Thursday 2–4 □□ Thursday 6–8
    □ Friday 6–8□ Friday 10–12□ Friday 2–4

    Mark “1” for first choice, “2” if can attend other time also.

    Tell the person that we will call to confirm which time and date she is assigned to. If she cannot attend the time and date for his or her group, then put her on the list for future focus groups.

    Name ___ Phone ___

    Appendix D: Sample Focus Group Topic Guide


    Welcome and thank you for coming to our session today. My name is Nedra Weinreich, and I am an independent consultant working with Planned Parenthood of Utah. Assisting me is Jane Smith from Planned Parenthood of Utah.

    We are developing a statewide campaign to prevent unintended pregnancies, and we have chosen Salt Lake City as one of the locations we are developing the campaign in first. These focus groups are a research method that will help us to develop the campaign. They are like an opinion survey, but rather than asking questions of one person at a time, we bring a group of people together to discuss a particular topic.

    We have invited you to this focus group to find out what you think about birth control and family planning services. There are no right or wrong answers, just differing points of view. Please feel free to disagree with one another; we would like to have many points of view. Keep in mind that we are just as interested in negative comments as in positive comments; sometimes, the negative comments are the most helpful. Also, I want you to know that I do not work for Planned Parenthood, so you will not hurt my feelings if you make any negative comments about the organization.

    Before we begin, let me explain the ground rules. We are recording the discussion because I do not want to miss any of your comments. All of your comments are confidential and will be used for research purposes only. We will be on a first-name basis today, and in our later reports, there will not be any names attached to comments. I want this to be a group discussion, so you do not need to wait for me to call on you. But please speak one at a time so that the audio recorder can pick up everything.

    We have a lot of ground to cover, so I might change the subject or move ahead. Please stop me if you want to add something. Our discussion will last about 1 hour and 45 minutes, and then we have a short questionnaire we would like you to fill out. When you turn in your questionnaire, you will receive your $50 honorarium.

    First of all, let's just go around the room and introduce ourselves. Please give us your first name; what you do; and whether you are single, are married, or have any children. Also, how about telling us your favorite thing to do on a Saturday night? I will start …

    General Contraceptive Knowledge/Information Seeking
    • Where do you get your information about birth control? Who do you trust to give you that information? What about information about sex?
    • Do you have any worries or concerns about using birth control pills, condoms, or other contraceptives? Are these worries or concerns based on things you have heard or on your own experience? Are there things you need more information about?
    • When I mention the words birth control, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? What type of person uses birth control?
    • I am going to name some birth control methods. I want you to tell me what you think of each: what you like and what you do not like about it. [Name: the pill, condoms, diaphragm, Norplant, spermicide, Depo-Provera, the morning-after pill]
    • What affects your decision to use birth control or not? [Probe: partner, situation, friends, time of month, concern about pregnancy, media]
    • Do your friends use birth control? Pretend that I am a friend of yours considering whether or not to start using birth control. What advice would you give me?
    Attitudes toward Pregnancy
    • I would like you to think back to the last time you had sex. Did you plan for it to happen, or did it just happen? In general, which way do you think it should be? Why?
    • What about having a baby? Do you think that it should be planned, or should it just happen when it happens? What is the ideal time or situation to have a baby?
    • What do you think your odds are of becoming pregnant in the next year or so? What are you basing that on?
    • What do you think would happen if you became pregnant? Do you ever think about that as a possibility when you do not use birth control? Are there good things about becoming pregnant?
    Media and Leisure Habits

    Now I am going to shift gears a little bit and ask you some questions to help us plan how to get our message out.

    • Where do you and your friends tend to hang out?
    • What types of entertainment do you and your friends prefer? Television? Radio? Where and when do you listen to the radio? Which stations/shows? Do you read a newspaper? Magazines? What websites or social networks do you spend time on online?
    • If we wanted to reach a lot of people similar to you in our campaign, where should we place our ads or messages? Do not worry about whether it is feasible. Where and when do you think you would be most receptive to messages promoting the use of birth control?

    Appendix E: Readability Testing Formula

    The SMOG Readability Formula is one of the most common and easiest to use readability tests. Use it to check the reading level needed to understand your printed materials. In general, the sixth- to eighth-grade level will be appropriate for most general audiences, but consider the educational attainment of your target audience to determine the correct readability level. You can also easily test the readability of a web page or document using online tools such as http://read ability.info.

    To determine the approximate reading level of a publication, use the following steps:

    • Mark off 10 consecutive sentences each at the beginning, middle, and end of the piece.
      • A sentence is a string of words that ends with a period (.), a question mark (?), or an exclamation point (!).
    • Count the total number of words containing three or more syllables (polysyllabic), including repetitions, in those 30 sentences.
      • Hyphenated words count as one word.
      • Numbers and abbreviations should be pronounced to count the number of syllables.
      • Proper nouns should be counted as well if they are polysyllabic.
    • Use the conversion chart below to determine the approximate reading level.
      • Keep in mind that some polysyllabic words (e.g., exercise) are the simplest and clearest way in which to say something. In other cases, a one- or two-syllable word (e.g., larynx) might be more difficult. Use your judgment, and try to write as simply as possible.

    About the Author

    Nedra Kline Weinreich is President of Weinreich Communications, a consulting firm that works with nonprofits and government agencies to help them bring about health and social change. Since 1992, she has developed social marketing and social media programs for clients such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, National Institute for Child Health and Human Development, National Minority AIDS Council, Population Services International, Loyola University of Chicago, and many others. Prior to her work with Weinreich Communications, Nedra designed health education and communication programs for public and private organizations. She earned her master's degree in health and social behavior from the Harvard School of Public Health and teaches a course on social marketing at the UCLA School of Public Health. She offers in-person and online trainings via her Social Marketing University program, as well as customized workshops. Nedra lives in Los Angeles, California, with her husband Gil and children Ariel and Leora. Nedra would love to hear from you with your thoughts about the book. You can reach her at:

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