Marketing For Social Causes: 3 Content Strategies to Consider
Marketing for social causes is very different from the usual for-profit marketing. It seeks to persuade people to change their behaviour to benefit society at large. And unlike consumer goods, there is often no instant gratification.
Thus, social problems are especially difficult to tackle. Nonetheless, these efforts are very important for our well-being and should be done right.
You might have seen health campaigns such as “Let’s Beat Diabetes” or environmental campaigns like “Waste Less, Save More”. Although most of us know the impact of these issues, many of us turn a blind eye to these campaigns.
Have you ever wondered why? Are we just averse to doing the right thing, or are these campaigns missing something?
We look at three content strategies to bear in mind when planning your next social causes campaign.
Choose and Understand Your Target Audience Carefully
This is probably the most important step when creating any type of content, but sadly, it is always done hastily. Social issues might affect everyone, but to think a small campaign with limited resources can impact everyone would be impractical. People of different demographics or psychographics face different challenges.
For example, simply shouting “Smoking is bad for you!” is not going to stop the public from smoking. Firstly, everyone already knows smoking is bad. Secondly, most smokers don’t actually end up looking like the lady in the poster. Lastly, the campaign does not explain why it is hard to quit.
A good campaign addresses the right challenges: a teenager might face more peer pressure when it comes to smoking, while an adult could be smoking to relieve stress. These are the real issues that need to be addressed. Hence, the two groups should be targeted separately.
The message should feel like a conversation with a friend, and less like a passing remark from a stranger. In order to do that, in-depth research is key.
Beyond that, you can develop an audience persona, a fictional representation of someone in your target audience. A persona will allow you to include specific quirks and personalities of your target audience, so you can use them to your advantage.
Man Therapy is a great example of targeted content. It is clearly made for men, using language men can understand; Humour.
Nobody Really Cares
In the words of South Philly-based content strategist Sara Wachter-Boettcher,
“Users are going to do what they’re going to do. We don’t get to control that. Wishing that they acted differently isn’t gonna help us.”
Granted, it is easier to pretend nobody cares about a product, but it can be heartbreaking to think nobody cares about the society; be it homeless puppies, or climate change. However, the truth is, the majority are not bothered by them, until you make them care.
The trick is to ask “what’s in it for me?” (‘Me’ in this case would refer to your target audience). Your audience is only interested in how they will benefit from changing their behavior. Hence, make sure that message shines through.
Let’s take food wastage, for example, the below poster looks nice, and even has a smart pun! But how does food waste directly affect the audience? People are not going to change their behaviour just because they are told to do so.
“Waste Less Save More” is a better message. The idea is that people can save more money if they do not waste food. It clearly shows the relationship between the issue and your target audience.
The ‘Let’s recycle together’ campaign by Zero Waste SG, aimed at HDB residents, wishes to communicate community spirit. However, the benefit of recycling is not particularly evident. If the message is that recycling together will bond the community, there should be more interaction between people in these posters, instead of individuals recycling separately. This brings us to the next tip.
Choose Your Visuals Wisely
Our subconscious mind thinks in pictures, and we make a lot of our decisions subconsciously. Thus, it pays to make sure every picture will send the right message. It is not enough for it to look good, it has to be in line with your message. As easy as it sounds, it is often overlooked.
Let’s take a closer look at the message it is trying to deliver; “Share a Read”, “talk about books”. However, the man in the visual is reading the book alone, without sharing, or talking to others about books.
Below is another example taken from the Ministry of Health (MOH) website. The message here is “we heard you”, but the photo used looks like a one-way lecture, not a dialogue. This inadvertently contradicts what MOH is trying to portray. As the saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words”, so choose yours wisely.
It is never easy (or possible) to create a campaign with a 100 percent success rate. Because if there was a surefire campaign formula, the world would have been perfect by now. However, if you can master these 3 strategies, you would be one step closer to success than ever before.