Publics--Social marketers often have many different audiences that their program has to address in order to be successful. "Publics" refers to both the external and internal groups involved in the program. External publics include the target audience, secondary audiences, policymakers, and gatekeepers, while the internal publics are those who are involved in some way with either approval or implementation of the program.
A social marketer has to have a solid understanding of public behavior. Courses like consumer psychology can help these professionals figure out why some marketing messages are effective, and others aren't, so they can fine-tune social marketing campaigns. Behavior change theory classes build on this skill by exploring human motivations for change.
Social marketing was "born" as a discipline in the 1970s, when Philip Kotler and Gerald Zaltman realized that the same marketing principles that were being used to sell products to consumers could be used to "sell" ideas, attitudes and behaviors. Kotler and Andreasen define social marketing as "differing from other areas of marketing only with respect to the objectives of the marketer and his or her organization. Social marketing seeks to influence social behaviors not to benefit the marketer, but to benefit the target audience and the general society." This technique has been used extensively in international health programs, especially for contraceptives and oral rehydration therapy (ORT), and is being used with more frequency in the United States for such diverse topics as drug abuse, heart disease and organ donation.
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Not all social marketing campaigns are effective everywhere. For example, anti-smoking campaigns such as World No Tobacco Day while being successful (in concert with government tobacco controls) in curbing the demand for tobacco products in North America and in parts of Europe, have been less effective in other parts of the world such as China, India and Russia. (See also: Prevalence of tobacco consumption)
Social marketing has the primary goal of achieving "social good". Traditional commercial marketing aims are primarily financial, though they can have positive social effects as well. In the context of public health, social marketing would promote general health, raise awareness and induce changes in behaviour. Social marketing has been a large industry for some time now and was originally done with newspapers and billboards, but similar to commercial marketing has adapted to the modern world. The most common use of social marketing in today's society is through social media.. However, to see social marketing as only the use of standard commercial marketing practices to achieve non-commercial goals is an oversimplified view.
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Many scholars ascribe the beginning of the field of social marketing to an article published by G.D. Wiebe in the Winter 1951-1952 edition of Public Opinion Quarterly. In it, Wiebe posed a rhetorical question: "Why can’t you sell brotherhood and rational thinking like you can sell soap?” He then went on to discuss what he saw as the challenges of attempting to sell a social good as if it were a commodity, thus identifying social marketing (though he did not label it as such) as a discipline unique from c mmodity marketing. Yet, Wilkie & Moore (2003) note that the marketing discipline has been involved with questions about the intersection of marketing and society since its earliest days as a discipline.
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