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Social Marketing 101 – No, Not Social Media Marketing

July 5, 2017
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I had the opportunity to attend a Social and Behavior Change Marketing event put on by SMANA (Social Marketing Association of North America) last night and had a great time! I wanted to share my experience and introduce you to the world of Social Marketing.

This event was very informal – we met up at a Mexican restaurant down the street from our offices in Old Town. There were about 7 or 8 of us that showed up including the two organizers, but the small number of attendees didn’t take away from the quality of the event. In fact, it was really nice having the space to have meaningful conversations with everyone there.

It was immediately obvious that everyone (except me) had met each other before tonight. I was definitely “the new guy,” but everyone was very welcoming.

Related: Public Speaking That Stands Out: Yellow Collective Event Recap

The vibe I’d gotten so far is that there wasn’t so much a meeting structure that was to be followed, but instead we were to just use this as a time to chat and get to know each other/each other’s businesses. Given that, this article isn’t going to be much of an “event recap” as an introduction to a few cool organizations I learned about and what they’re doing in the Social and Behavioral Marketing space.

Rescue Agency 

First, there’s Rescue – The Behavior Change Agency. There were two representatives from Rescue at the table, both from upper management. I was fortunate enough to get there a little early and chat with these two before the the event began and learn a bit more.

Rescue has been around for 16 years and they employ a little over 100 people. They’re a marketing agency like PDM, but with a fundamental difference – they’re solely focused on social cause marketing. The majority of their clients are entities within the US Government, and they’ve had the opportunity to work on some awesome projects around the country.

Related: Why You Should Be Working with Social Good Brands 

To put their mission in a nutshell (as I remember it being described), Rescue aims to bring together professionals from the Public Health field and professionals from the Marketing field to create positive social change. They work with a few different research firms around the country to make their campaigns truly data-driven.

One great example of their work is Fresh Empire: a campaign to reduce teenage tobacco use. I’m not going to spoil anything, but they’re working with some very recognizable names in the rap game to reach out to these kids and make cool to not smoke tobacco.

That’s just one of the many cool projects Rescue is working on, check them out.

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Action Research

Remember those research firms that Rescue works with? Action is one of those. I had some really insightful conversation with the people from Action. They’re more the Public Health side of the social marketing game, and have had the opportunity to perform some innovative and interesting research.

One of the many projects they told me about included researching the best way to convince residents of NYC public housing to curb their electricity usage. The problem is that electricity is free for those living in public housing, so they had no benefit to using less electricity.

They came up with a very creative solution – they mailed flyers out to the residents showing each tenant how much electricity they were using compared to their neighbors, and the social pressure of being “above the norm” was enough to cut electricity by 8%! When public housing is the size of a small city.. that’s seeing some real savings.

Says something about the human psyche, doesn’t it?

I’d encourage everyone to check out a SMANA event if they see one near them, especially if you’re a marketer looking for a way to give back!

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