Graham King

Solvitas perambulum

Tools for Change, Social Change Conference 1995 notes

behaviour conference

In these months of American politicians trying to influence you, I thought it interesting to look at ways of using the same tools for positive change.

In May 1995, Canadian academic, broadcaster and environmental activist David Suzuki invited marketers, scientists, media educators, and activists to Vancouver for a Social Change Conference. The goal was for social change organisations to learn about effective marketing and behaviour change from professionals and each other.

The proceedings were published in Tools for Change, which is available at the Vancouver Pubic Library, and AFAIK basically nowhere else. Here’s what I found interesting:

Mark Sarner of manifest on Marketing

Social marketing is about changing the social climate for progressive ideas.

The ‘social sector’ (charities, N.G.O’s), needs to embrace marketing, because they are already doing it, just not well enough. You need to embrace competition. If your cause is not more important than the others you’re in the wrong organisation.

Develop a product, a social product. It must meet a social need, generate social value. A social product can be a commercial product: condoms, low-fat cookbooks, solar panels, etc. What do your customers want?

Stay focused and on message. Don’t dilute by attacking all problems at once. Focus on brands, ideas that have qualities and images that attract your target audience. Stand out from the crowd, take risks, be noticed.

Provide sound-bite solutions, as soon as you hook people with the problem.

Larry Wallack on Media Advocacy

What is the issue? What is the specific policy you want to advance? Who has the power to make that policy a reality? Who can put pressure on them? How does the general public stand on the issue?

Use compelling images – without good visuals you won’t get into print and video media. Use human focused statistics. Identify authentic ‘human interest’ voices. Journalists will want to speak to them.

Use evocative symbols: slogans, images, objects, martyrs, logos, names, etc.

Leanne Pippard

Opinion polls gather a largely uninformed public opinion.

(sorry that’s all there is in my notes for her)

Richard Pollay

Marketing is about producing what people want. Understand your target market. Focus your efforts on a specific market.

Advertising on local radio is very cost effective. A radio ad: No gimmicks, establish common ground, write the way you talk, use real people with real feelings, keep the message simple.

Start with a question, end with a headline.

Garfield Mahood of the NSRA on the anti-tobacco campaign

  • Research: Know the issue inside-out. Know the players, the lobbyists, the government agencies, etc. Be a media friendly expert.
  • Education: Get information to the involved parties. Spend money on advertising.
  • Polarization: Embrace conflict, it will be almost impossible to achieve your goals with no conflict.
  • Neutralization: Neutralize the opposition with targeted adverts and messages.
  • Mobilization: Get supporters to write in.

Jim Mintz of the Centre of Excellence for Public Sector Marketing.

The best approach is always top down and bottom up. Get government to legislate away the undesirable behaviour, and get people to stop wanting to pursue it.

Your cause would benefit from a champion: An individual figurehead and leader.

Herb Chao Gunther of the Public Media Centre

The Public Media Centre spends 60% of their budget on advertising, full page ads:

It costs money. But if you’re afraid of money, you’re afraid of social change.

Have strong clear values, tell people about right and wrong. Provide moral leadership. Act like a winner.

Focus on the “muddled middle”. You don’t need to sell to your supporters, you probably can’t convince your opponents, so focus on the uninformed and undecided.

Marketing is premised on the fact that you can’t tell anybody anything they don’t already know – you’d be amazed at what people know.

Point fingers. Attack the enemy. Once the blame is shifted from consumers, they can join your fight.

You don’t need consensus, or committees. A free market of ideas and actions is much more effective. Lots of independent campaigns will be more effective than a mono-culture.

Susan Middlestadt on Behavioral Science

Determinants -> Behavior -> Outcome

Determinants of behavior:

  • Perceived consequences: What good things will happen? What bad things?
  • Perceived social norms: Who do you think will approve / disapprove?
  • Efficacy and perceived skill: What would make it easier for you to engage in that behavior? More difficult?

Design interventions to act on the determinants.

Formal education settings such as classroom on environmental issues, eco-club, etc trigger central processing.

Non-formal settings can educate about social issues too: A match class or literacy class, where the examples and tests are about the environment. This employs peripheral processing.

Strategy: Analyze behavior patterns, segment your target audience, develop a plan, do it, monitor, revise.

Technology, Policies and Perceptions should be considered. Recycling example.

Define your target outcome. Research what behaviours, in what context and time frame, will achieve that outcome. Compare people who do the behavior to people who don’t, see which determinants change.

David Suzuki

I wrote his view on television up previously, in David Suzuki on Television.

His broad summary of the conference was this:

The challenge is to raise this playing field so that it doesn’t matter where you lie on the political spectrum – so that everyone agrees that air, water, soil, and biodiversity are crucial to our survival and to the health of our economy.

Same as women’s rights, slavery, child labour, etc.

For (much) more information on behaviour change, continue to the Behaviour Change Toolkit.

The gap between the conference, the write-up, my notes of the write up, and my blog of my notes of the write up, is bound to end up mis-representing people’s view. If I have mis-quoted or mis-represented you above, please let me know so I can correct. Thanks!