Here’s a premise and a question: Linda is 31 years old, single, outspoken, and very bright. She majored in philosophy. As a student, she was deeply concerned with issues of discrimination and social justice, and also participated in anti-nuclear demonstrations.
Which is more probable?
- Linda is a bank teller
- Linda is a bank teller and is active in the feminist movement Read More
The difference is bigger than you think
It can get tricky. Part of you wants to look at what the giants are doing and use it for your own purposes. Coca Cola, McDonald’s, Apple – those mega corporations seem to be doing well, why not do what they do? And I guess in a lot of ways, we do:
Apple uses clean graphics and messaging, we use clean graphics and messaging.
McDonald’s uses its target audience as its spokespeople, we use our target audience as our spokespeople.
Coca Cola makes sure to be at the point of purchase, we make sure to be at the point of purchase (or the equivalent).
It would seem, at least on the surface, that social marketing is the same as marketing marketing…only with a thousandth the budget. And I can see that a lot of people would see it that way; just about all of the tools and tactics are the same between the people trying to sell stuff and the people trying to change behavior.
Only there is one big difference.
At its core, product marketing is about convincing an audience that it is lacking something. They could be lacking something specific and tangible like that refreshing Coca Cola taste, or they could be lacking something more pervasive like the type of computing tools that cool, edgy, artsy people should have. Whether implied or direct, product marketing, at its core is about filling a need with a thing.
Behavioral marketing is, in a lot of ways, about the opposite. It’s about convincing people that they already have the power to make a difference. This is a profoundly different deal than the alternative as it asks of people not to buy, but to give. This is a tricky proposition for any number of reasons which I won’t get into here, but I do think that the essential difference is worth noting. Yes, the tools are just about all the same, and yes, we want to have the same sort of artistic quality in our public facing work as the mega corporations – but when we employ those same tools, we want to be sure that we are doing so not in a way that disempowers our audience, rather, in a way that nourishes their own self-perception.
*Photo courtesy of Social Quick Starter*