Marketing executives, Maisie and Chelsie, at their desks working on behaviour change marketing.

Breaking down behaviour change marketing

It’s about encouraging positive change – change being the optimum word. Social marketing is more to do with making a difference for individuals, societies, communities, and organisations.

You might be sat there wondering why we’re always talking about behaviour change marketing – when surely all marketing encourages different behaviours? Whether that’s inspiring people to buy products or invest in services. And you’re right – but behaviour change marketing, also known as social marketing, is about more than that. It’s about encouraging positive change – change being the operative word. Social marketing is more to do with making a difference for individuals, societies, communities, and organisations.

Let’s break it down

Traditional marketing – we’ve seen it, we’ve used it, we’ve been persuaded by it. It’s the everyday marketing used by companies and businesses worldwide. And it’s all about promoting products or services to persuade people to buy them. It focuses on creating awareness, generating interest, and ultimately driving sales and awareness of brands. Powerful and purposeful marketing can convert consumers into loyal customers.

Really though, there is limited ‘change’ involved with traditional marketing techniques. Yes, people might change their mind about buying a product, but we see this as more influencing. Creating change is more profound. We’re talking changing whole behaviours that are ingrained within humans and society. Behaviour change marketing involves inciting positive changes within people themselves to make a difference on society.

Think of behaviour change as encouraging people to adopt positive behaviours or change existing ones for the benefit of themselves, others, or the wider community. It aims to bring about social transform by changing people’s attitudes, beliefs, and behaviours. Instead of selling products, it promotes behaviours that improve fundamental needs, lifestyles, attitudes and actions. Social marketing could be aimed at encouraging healthy living, protecting the environment, or even promoting the contribution to a charitable cause.

Have a goal in mind

At the core of marketing is the intended goal. The key difference being conventional marketing and behaviour change marketing is the underlying goal. For traditional marketing this is predominately sales, whereas for social marketing the goal is changes in behaviour.

In simple terms, traditional marketing wants you to buy something, while social behaviour change marketing wants you to do something good for yourself or society. It’s like the difference between buying a new gadget and recycling to help the environment.

It’s all about the execution

The goal in mind determines the direction taken to execute effective and purpose-driven marketing. With sales it’s about producing content that persuades someone to buy, with behaviour change it’s about creating content that incites that desired change.

Behaviour change marketing often uses strategies like education, awareness campaigns, and the repositioning of social norms to encourage desired behaviours. It’s about understanding people’s motivations and barriers to change, and then designing messages and interventions that resonate with them. The focus is on long-term impact and creating sustainable behaviour change, rather than just making a quick sale.

End result

Essentially, while traditional marketing aims to sell products and services, social behaviour change marketing promotes positive behaviours and creates a better world for everyone. Pretty great, right? Social marketing goes beyond the transactional and is all about inspiring and empowering people to make a difference through their actions.

Both have a valued place in the industry and both are needed to keep companies thriving and societies thriving with them!

We understand behaviour change marketing

When it comes to social marketing our methodology is built on research and science. From understanding the purpose of your behaviour change campaign, we create a plan for the concepts based on research we’ve conducted. Once we’ve trialled, tested and received feedback we launch your campaign with confidence. To keep things on track, we will run consistent in-house evaluations to test the live campaign’s performance against your goals.

Ultimately, we learn from every campaign. We draw out the successes and any new directions to refine every new behaviour change project we do. To ensure our contributions to behaviours are understood and society can benefit from them, we share our key findings so others can learn from or advance the field of work too.

Got a behaviour change campaign in mind? We’d love to help you achieve your goals and have a positive contribution to your local area or beyond. Discover more about our services HERE.