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Social Marketing - Selling Health Messages 12 December 2006

The Department of Health and Social Security’s Public Health Directorate will host an accredited Social Marketing Training course on 14th December 2006.

Social Marketing is an adaptable approach, increasingly being used to achieve and sustain behaviour relevant to a range of social issues and topics.

Commercial marketing is widely used to sell products and services (where the main purpose is financial gain). The primary aim of social marketing is to use similar techniques to help achieve changes for a specific social or public ‘good’.

Lez Dorward, from Public Health said,

“At its simplest level, Social Marketing seeks to understand how sections of the general public would go about making a behavioural change e.g. to exercise more or to eat more healthily. Planners can then build campaigns and messages around this understanding. There is increasing recognition that traditional communications and ‘message-based’ approaches are only having a very limited impact on people’s actual behaviour. Social Marketing strategies lead to better targeted programmes, campaigns and initiatives, which are more likely to be effective and have an impact on changing what people actually do.”

Delegates attending the first course come from agencies, charities and departments involved with raising awareness about the benefits of changing behaviours (e.g. DHSS, DoE, DoLGE, DOT, OFT, Isle of Man Children’s Centre).

Martin Hall Director of Environment Safety and Health with responsibility for improving and protecting both the health of the public and the environment said,

“I believe we have to move away from the traditional marketing techniques of posters, pamphlets, and advertising that tell people things are bad for you as they simply are not effective at getting our message across. After all we all know smoking is bad for you but lots of us still do it. Social Marketing requires us to engage our target audience and forces policy makers to listen to the public and understand their behaviour as it is a consumer lead exchange rather than a professional telling you what to do. Social Marketing should become one of the Government’s core competencies for all Environmental/Public Health and Health Promotion staff if we are serious about improving the health of our Nation."

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