The Power of Behaviour Change Marketing
Changing the leopard's spots.
The phrase 'a leopard can't change its spots' dates back to the Bible and suggests that people can't (or won't) change. Market research, however, demonstrates the opposite, to the extent that there is an entire marketing discipline dedicated to it, known as behaviour change marketing. It is not a new phenomenon, as Philip Kotler and Gerald Zaltman first defined it in the early 1970s. However, some examples date back well before this.
WHAT IS BEHAVIOUR CHANGE MARKETING?
Behaviour change marketing (also known as social marketing but has nothing to do with social media) combines psychology, sociology and communications to change the mind of your target audience and their behaviour. Imagine a friend evaluating your choices and constantly reminding you of the better choice, the healthier choice, the safer choice – a sort of conscience nudging you in a particular direction.
PROPOSING WITH A DIAMOND RING
Did you know that the act of proposing with a diamond ring resulted from a marketing campaign by De Beers in the 1900s? The campaign was born out of a time of austerity, where big spending was considered irresponsible. Rather than conform to societal norms, through extensive research to gain a deep understanding of customer attitudes, De Beers determined that they needed to link the process of buying a diamond ring to an emotional experience. Their campaign slogan 'a diamond is forever' popularised the now-standard practice of purchasing an engagement ring with a diamond.
WHAT ROLE DOES BEHAVIOUR MARKETING HAVE IN THE CONTEXT OF A SCHOOL?
Every school can benefit from behaviour change marketing to alter perceptions, influence purchasing behaviour, or appeal to new audiences. Don't just think prospective parents here. Think about teachers, students, current parents, grandparents, and any other audience your school communicates with.
HOW IS IT DONE? THE THREE-STEP APPROACH.
- It begins with a vast amount of research to identify and understand your different audiences using qualitative and quantitative data. The most effective campaigns have very segmented audiences – as each audience behaves differently, we need to discover what's in it for them – or what matters to them enough to alter their behaviour. For example, younger people tend to respond better to social consequences, so if the goal is to appeal more to the student, a campaign around what the school might bring to their social life will resonate better than one about future university destinations. The reverse might apply to specific groups of parents.
- The next step is to create the perception; this step blends the strategy with the creative and needs to be delivered across multiple channels. As a rule, most audiences tend to respond best to behaviour changes that seem fun, easy and popular. However, most crucial, you cannot expect your audience to work out why they should change their behaviour or thinking patterns for themselves. It is up to you to design the messaging that gives them 'the why?' Once you know that, you can identify any barriers that might prevent the perception you want to communicate from becoming a reality.
- Behavioural change is incremental and takes time. It requires an integrated approach that includes digital, traditional and interactive tools. Social media, video, direct mail and experiential marketing all have their role to play in giving your audience the knowledge, skill and will to change. Lastly, measure your results. Measure where you are today, so you have a baseline from which to gauge your efforts, and later identify the tactics and messaging that are proving effective. It's ok to get it wrong. That's part of the process sometimes; however, it's of the utmost importance that you uncover why you were wrong and make adjustments.
If you'd like to learn more about behaviour change marketing or are reviewing your school website and looking for a company that does things differently, please get in touch.