Creating a movement around recycling

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Courtesy of Waste Advantage Magazine

How do you really move people to change? To change the way they think and act? Social marketing is one way to create long-lasting change. It may sound like an abstract term, but we’ll bet many of you practice social marketing, to some extent, every day, especially those of you who communicate to the public.

In this article we’ll talk about the basic tenants of social marketing as they apply mainly to recycling campaigns (but the theory can apply to almost any need), how to develop a campaign that reaches your target audience, and we’ll share with you an exciting and successful campaign launched last year in the state of Georgia.

Social marketing 101
Wikipedia defines social marketing as “the systematic application of marketing, along with other concepts and techniques, to achieve specific behavioral goals for a social good.” Simply put, if you are trying to influence behavior change, you are most likely using social marketing. Some examples of social marketing campaigns include:
“Your Brain on Drugs,” sponsored by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America.
“Smokey the Bear, Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires” for the USDA Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters.
The “Crying Indian” series for Keep America Beautiful.

5 Steps of Social Marketing … from the Trenches
To truly understand social marketing, we encourage you to read Fostering Sustainable Behavior, An Introduction to Community-Based Social Marketing, written by Doug McKenzie-Mohr, a leading expert in social marketing. It is a complicated topic, with lots of theory, but the basics, once mastered, can be truly powerful.

Our experience in social marketing, coupled with learnings from experts such as McKenzie-Mohr, have led to six recommended stages for launching your campaign.

#1: Assess the situation
Self-reflection and information gathering are integral first steps. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • What do you want your audience to do/not do?
  • What are you going to do to make the behavior more desirable?
  • How will you communicate?
  • What is your time frame?
  • What resources will you need (staff, budget, materials)?
  • How will you know if you are successful?

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