Community-based social marketing: A simple summary

It occurred to me earlier today (thank you to one of my readers who pointed it out), that the post I have been referring back to, here, describes what I find most compelling about the community-based social marketing (CBSM) framework, but does not actually explain the framework itself.  

This post offers a very basic and succinct summary of the CBSM framework.

CBSM is a research proven approach to achieve sustainable outcomes in your community.  It is an approach in response to the research that indicates that information alone (raising awareness and knowledge, or demonstrating economic self-interest) is insufficient to achieve action or behavior change.  Information-intensive campaigns and efforts are prevalent, easier to develop, and are the standard for commercial marketing.

But often, we want more than just raise awareness, we also want change.  And we’re not selling a product, we’re asking that people change the way they view

themselves, make decisions, and live out their daily lives.  And rather than digesting and weighing pieces of information and literature throughout our day, we rely primarily on our habits, emotions, perspective, social cues, and environmental cues to guide us to appropriate action and behavior.

CBSM considers our whole behavioral selves, and is made up of five steps:

  1. Selecting a Behavior Selecting an action that is specific (end-state and non-divisible) and impactful.  If an action you are promoting is too vague, and you are unable to identify the single set of steps it takes to complete and action, your program will struggle to provide the right support needed to engage your audience, leaving participants confused and unengaged at the first difficulty
  2. Identifying the Barriers and Benefits – Taking the time to research and get to know your audience and what will motivate them, and also what barriers will prevent them from completing an action.  It is dangerous to assume that we know what makes an action difficult, especially if we already do it, or promoting it is part of our daily work.  Literature review, surveys of past program participants and non-participants, focus groups, and observation can eliminate the guesswork of tailoring a program to meet the needs of participants.
  3. Developing a Strategy – Based on the barriers identified, incorporating corresponding social marketing tools that address those specific barriers.  Strategy examples include commitments, social diffusion, norms, prompts.These tools build upon how we interact within our community and trust those around us, whether friends, or simply the environment or crowd we’re in.
  4. Piloting Your Strategy – Testing the strategy to be sure it address barriers and brings people to the action or desired outcome.  It is important to use a control group when piloting a program to determine whether changes are attributed to the program or some other factor.  Unobtrusive observational data is the strongest way to measure impact when available.
  5. Implementing Broadly – Running the program!

Together, these steps provide a process through which behavioral and social considerations are included in program planning, design, and implementation, creating a more comprehensive and targeted approach to achieve sustainability and energy outcomes.  For more information, visit the Preface to the Fostering Sustainable Development book online.

With the Bush Fellowship, I am conducting research and outreach about how this method can be used by on-the-ground community groups and organizations across Minnesota to enhance their programs and outcomes.

For details on what I find most compelling about CBSM, read “What is Community-Based Social Marketing?  (And what it means to me and you.)

For a short summary of some observations and lessons learned from my work so far, visit “Trial by fire: Community-Based Social Marketing for Small Non-profits

3 thoughts on “Community-based social marketing: A simple summary

  1. Pingback: Where’s my social diffusion? | Common Spark*

  2. Pingback: Energy efficiency and behavior change struggle on… | Common Spark*

  3. Pingback: Re-introducing Common Spark*: New topics, new purpose | Common Spark*

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