I had the opportunity to step into the echo chamber of social marketing yesterday. The circumstance was the opportunity to review Nedra Weinreich's revised Hands-On Social Marketing book. She does a solid job in presenting the basics of the social marketing approach, and the number of worksheets she provides to guide a beginner through the process is a major strength of the book.
Not being a beginner, I was looking at the book from a different POV - what was she thinking were the key points to convey to others? And being in the midst of writing my own text, I was as interested in what she did not cover as to what she did.
The new edition contains some updating of information and insertion of ideas from the behavioral economics, design thinking and social media worlds. Yet, (and I went back and checked) the structure of the book is almost exactly as it was 12 years ago (1999) when the first edition was published.
Now there will be many social marketers who would argue that it is important to transmit the basics of the social marketing approach to beginners before they move into the more exploratory spaces of our work. You'll recognize many of them by their continuing to offer the same information in “updated” versions of their textbooks, the classes they teach and the talks they give. Indeed, from where I sit, the lack of innovation in social marketing, with perhaps the exception of incorporating social media tactics into the promotion mix (if that can be considered innovation), is breath-taking.
After reading through Nedra's book, I spent a few minutes thinking about what was there, what wasn't, and what assumptions we are making about the basic propositions of social marketing. This reverie lead me to put together this list of “what-ifs” that we may want to consider as we start a new year of social marketing.
What if we...
- didn't have target audiences - but co-creators
- didn't have distribution systems - but places where people could play
- didn't use focus groups - but designed research to fit the puzzle and people
- didn't assess knowledge and attitudes - but sought insight into people's motivation and values
- didn't start with analyzing people - but first assumed that it was something in their environment
- didn't create messages and stories - but focused on crafting exchanges
- didn't track program output - but what, how often and from where people saw and heard from us
- didn't aim at target audiences - but served people
- didn't focus on changing behaviors - but offered people new ways to solve problems, meet their needs and reach for their dreams
- didn't focus on evaluation as the end of the process - but sustainability as the start of the next one
I realize that many people will feel that they can't be the ones to challenge the status quo in their class, blog, book, organization or at a conference. To you I say:
If you don't do it, who will?
And if they won't listen to you, send them here.
I'll see what I can do.
The World is Changing @gapingvoid