The social marketing "product" is not necessarily a physical offering. A continuum of products exists, ranging from tangible, physical products (e.g., condoms), to services (e.g., medical exams), practices (e.g., breastfeeding, ORT or eating a heart-healthy diet) and finally, more intangible ideas (e.g., environmental protection). In order to have a viable product, people must first perceive that they have a genuine problem, and that the product offering is a good solution for that problem. The role of research here is to discover the consumers' perceptions of the problem and the product, and to determine how important they feel it is to take action against the problem.
Customers are often researching online and then buying in stores and also browsing in stores and then searching for other options online. Online customer research into products is particularly popular for higher-priced items as well as consumable goods like groceries and makeup. Consumers are increasingly using the Internet to look up product information, compare prices, and search for deals and promotions.[23]
Unlike other forms of online marketing, content marketing relies on anticipating and meeting an existing customer need for information, as opposed to creating demand for a new need. As James O'Brien of Contently wrote on Mashable, "The idea central to content marketing is that a brand must give something valuable to get something valuable in return. Instead of the commercial, be the show. Instead of the banner ad, be the feature story."[3] Content marketing requires continuous delivery of large amounts of content, preferably within a content marketing strategy.[4]
Before we discuss social marketing further, however, it's important to have a grasp on the principles of commercial marketing, since that is what it's based on. As community health workers, or members of non-profit organizations, the idea might seem a bit odd. We're used to a completely different mindset. Terms like "marketing" may conjure up images of big business and corporate greed; they certainly don't make us think of programs to try to help our neighbors.

Even so, your neighbors may not be open to your ideas and programs right off the bat, and you may find yourself having to persuade them. This is what social marketing excels at. The idea may be new for you, or a complete change in how your perceive things. That change, however, may end up being the breath of air your organization needs to become even more effective in changing behavior.


This refers to your ability to rank for certain keywords. For instance, say you sell shoes online, you will need to optimize your site, backlinks, website speed and much more so that you can “rank” high for certain keywords that are highly relevant to your business. Relevant keywords may include “buy shoes,” “shoe sale,” “where to buy shoes,” and so on. Once you can rank high (top page) for these keywords, you will enjoy an increase in traffic and business as a result.
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