Great research and evaluation form the basis and vitality of any social marketing effort – yes, vitality rather than sucking the life out of everybody! Research, when done well, disposes the planning team to understand their audience in deep and unique ways. Well conceived audience research brings the insight from which unique benefits and positioning can nurture a strategy that leads to more effective and efficient programs. And when all is said and done, evaluations that answer the SW2C (So what? Who cares?) and not just document relative overall success or failure of the program provide the information we need to move forward fast in adjusting our programs to changing conditions. What the students took away:
Concept testing is important. Find out what is the important benefit to your audience. So what if other people don’t get it – it doesn’t matter as long as your target audience gets it.
Do research to gain understanding, insight, and reassurance.
Use the anthropological approach of interviews and observation of your audience in their social environment instead of always turning towards the sterility of controlled focus group settings. Embrace this chaos.
“If you want to know how lions hunt, go to the jungle, don’t go to the zoo.” I love this! So many social marketers are learning about the lion in the zoo believing they are doing the right thing in terms of conducting formative research and collecting evidence for their social marketing programs.
For the first time, I think I’m starting to see where qualitative and quantitative research meet - ironically not in a sociology class but in a marketing class!
The criteria for good exploratory research should be if it changes your world. If you walk away thinking people reacted just like the way you anticipated, it’s a waste of money.
Exploratory research needs to change your world. You need to hear something you didn’t already know.
Things to consider when conducting a process evaluation—questions to ask.
a. Is the plan implemented as intended?
b. Is it reaching the audience(s)?
c. Is it having the desired affects?
d. Is the marketing mix relevant to the audience(s)?
I think that the comment regarding staged testing is brilliant. I am using it with another client that I am working with. This is one of those common sense insights that probably isn’t practiced enough. But really isn’t this just a reiteration of the social marketing commitment to continuous research?
SW2C – So What, Who Cares. Evaluation needs to address questions that are worth knowing.
The problem is never how to get new, innovative thoughts into your mind, but how to get old ones out.