Beyond Awareness: Creating Social Marketing Campaigns that Change Attitudes and Behaviours

Social marketing strategist Alexandra Bornkessel also known as “social butterfly” wrote a terrific piece on awareness which I have used in a number of live presentations. It clearly explains why we have the need to go BEYOND AWARENESS.

“They know about us, who cares if they don’t buy? Would any company ever say this? Hey, we spent $5M, and made $1M–but at least more people know about us–look at all the awareness we got. No, they would not. Better phrased, they would not be satisfied with that answer. They’d want more information. They’d look at the whole product cycle – from development, to placement, to price, to promotion and beyond.

So, why, fellow health marketing and do-gooders do we settle with “awareness-building?” To be frank, every time I’m in a meeting and I hear the word awareness, my skin crawls. Awareness is great–but there’s a time and place for it. I’m aware of Ritz crackers, but I buy Wheat Thins. I’m aware of PowerAde, but I buy Gatorade. There are times I might know about your cause–but I won’t donate. Other times I might know you need help, but I won’t volunteer. I know exercise is healthy, yet I’m still sitting here typing this blog post. There is a reason for these behaviours and decisions. There are motivations, barriers, incentives, costs, and more.

If our friends in the private sector won’t settle, we shouldn’t either. Let’s suggest questions to ask when awareness fever strikes our next meeting. Ready, Set, Go.

When it comes to public education campaigns, it’s time to move beyond awareness and into action. If you work in the non-profit sector you’ll have heard a bubbling frustration with traditional, cause-driven awareness campaigns.

When it comes to many causes, people are “awareness’ed out.” It’s time those in the public and not-for-profit sectors take a page from private sector marketers and start running campaigns that are results driven and have as the ultimate result attitude and behaviour change. Yes let’s make the sale!

So many times in our experience working with organizations, we find that they think people’s “awareness” of their programs and products will spur them to take action.

The brutal fact is awareness alone does not always lead people to change their attitude or behaviour. If you want a target audience to adopt a lifestyle, buy a product, or support your cause, you have to go beyond simply telling them about it. You need to start using components of behavioural psychology and strategic social marketing to stimulate behaviour change.

In this tough economy it’s important to ensure maximum impact for your marketing and communication dollars.


Come Join Us

Intro to Social Marketing Planning for Attitude and Behaviour Change

March 9, 2017

343 Preston Street, Ottawa, ON,

Awareness.  Are you getting tired of hearing that word? If you want to move your marketing and communications efforts beyond merely public education and awareness campaigns and into the realm of action-oriented attitude and behaviour change then this workshop is for you

The workshop will focus on:

  • How to use a step-by-step structured approach to prepare a social marketing plan that is actionable, has maximum impact, and leads to successful implementation;
  • How to present and “sell” your social marketing strategy to management;
  • How to implement a social marketing program on a very tight budget;
  • How to monitor and evaluate your inputs/outputs, outcomes and impacts;
  • How social marketing gives you a single approach: for mobilizing communities; influencing the media; activating key stakeholders; and building strategic alliances with business.





2 Replies to “Beyond Awareness: Creating Social Marketing Campaigns that Change Attitudes and Behaviours”

  1. I do get weary of reading about high awareness numbers being treated as real knowledge of e.g. oral contraceptive pills or DOTS treatment for TB. Awareness is just the teeny weeny first step toward gaining a working knowledge, interest in using, trial and sustained behavior change.

    1. Yes the “awareness fever” is a big problem for those of us who are training and working in social marketing and we plan to do everything we can to convince the public and non-profit sector to focus on behaviour change.

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