National Social Marketing Centre

Patrick Ladbury

The Chartered Institute of Marketing New Social Marketing Award

Patrick Ladbury, Friday, February 21, 2014 - 20:17


What do young people crossing railways safely, stopping smoking for October, voting for a country to join FIFA, not using accident and emergency services and enrolling more students on a course have in common?


These were some of the entry topics for the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s (CIM) first Social Marketing Award, part of the CIM’s annual Marketing Excellence awards which were presented last week.


It is fantastic that The CIM have recognised social marketing as a subset of marketing and this builds on our joint previous work in setting professional standards for social marketers and publishing a number of papers on the subject.


While judging the entries it got me thinking about what the difference was between marketing and social marketing and whether some of the entries were in the right category.

For me the real difference is about purpose. Is it to change behaviours for the purpose of a social goal or is it to increase sales, customers or market share or to raise funds. Those purposes do not have to be exclusive, but the need for a social purpose is what gives social marketing its name. It may use many of the same techniques as commercial marketing but often does so for a different purpose. Segmentation being a good. Both commercial and social marketing use segmentation to focus on target audiences but while commercial marketing will often focus on the most profitable segments, or the segment with the most growth potential, social marketers often need to focus on the most financially disadvantaged and difficult to engage. It is often this dichotomy that deters many commercial companies from fully engaging with social marketers.


This achievement of the social purpose was also another important factor in judging the award entries and also the success of any social marketing programme. Can you demonstrate that your programme and the behaviours that you may have changed have had an impact on your social goal? This poses a difficult conundrum for Award givers. Many of the programmes social marketers work on are tackling long term behaviours that require lifestyle, rather than one off behaviour changes and which take time to show the impact on the social challenge they are seeking to address. This is difficult to articulate in an award entry application, particularly as applications need to show the impact of their programme. It also raises the question about whether awards encourage the short termism of three of four month campaigns which focus on one off behaviour changes rather than the long term social impacts. Perhaps next year the CIM could present two awards one for short term programmes and one which show the impat of social programmes.


And the winner of the award was…. Visit The CIM Award website to find out!


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