IMC and Social Marketing: Together for the common good?

IMC1How does the concept of Integrated Marketing Communication work in the context of social marketing, where there is often agreement on the behavioural goal (e.g. more exercise), but a wide variety of organisations are active, sometimes competing with each other while trying to influence behaviour and guide behaviour change?

In our new article, available on-line now from the Journal of Social Marketing, we looked at just how the IMC model could be adopted to better fit into the social marketing/behaviour change context. Based on interviews with charities working in the HIV sector, we explore how a symbiotic relationship between IMC and social marketing can lead to both practical improvements of health-related social marketing campaigns, as well as theoretical advancement of the IMC construct.

Three key differences between the social marketing sector and the commercial sector emerged from our interviews: These included the differences of customer-centric approaches between commercial and social marketing. Secondly, the need to weigh out the application of IMC to the charity brand or the use of IMC at a behavioural level and, thirdly, different complexity levels of desired behaviour as a mediating factor.

Based on these insights, we suggest an amended model of IMC, and focus on the practical development of guidance how the largely commercially applied IMC construct can be modified to be used in a social marketing context, while showing how IMC needs to evolve to grow beyond purely commercial application.

Stephan Dahl , Lynne Eagle , David Low , (2015) “Integrated marketing communications and social marketing: Together for the common good?”, Journal of Social Marketing, Vol. 5 Iss: 3, pp.226 – 240
Available online here

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