Jul. 23rd, 2012

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...is full of meta.

Watching the movie makes a lot more sense than reading the play.  
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...is marketing it as public health.

People are motivated by self-interest, and they say it like it's a bad thing. If everything we knew to improve health was marketed like Coca-Cola, though, who knows what paragon of fitness and immunological perfection we would all be! Well, actually, it would be hard to market it exactly like Coca-Cola, which after all has the advertising funds to actually buy the world a Coke.

After this morning's class, I would have said it wasn't hard to work out a public health marketing campaign. I loved the metric we were given for it, because it lets you show what the "true" goal of the campaign is, but then focuses on the "product" being sold.

1. Actual product
2. Priority Population
3. Core product
4. Position (competition)
5. Augmented product
6. Price
7. Placement
8. Promotion

1. Actual product: In terms of public health, this can mean anything from getting vaccinations to getting exercise, breast feeding, or washing your hands before eating. Something simple is best. If this were commercial marketing of soda, this would be the can of pop.

2. Priority population: The target audience. Who is gonna buy? To me, this is actually the most nuanced part of the whole process. Public health as a field focuses on the "most needy". However, the neediest are already drowning in intervention programs, busy with scraping the bottom of the barrel, and in general half-deaf to any new demands on their lives.

So we aim for the low-hanging fruit, those people who are just about ready to buy the product anyway, or who only need a little push to follow our expert advice. But wait, there's more! The demographics don't really break people into tidy groups. Age ranges only do so much, gender only does so much. So segmentation into more specific groups helps. (Woman 20-35: College students. Young professionals. Stay at home moms. Career women. Career women with kids. You get the idea) 

3. Core product: This is where the traditional public health experts get snooty (at least according to my sources...I haven't experienced it first hand), since they feel people should be doing healthy stuff for the "right reasons". Phooey. 

The core product is what people are buying into. They don't get vaccinations to improve herd heatlh, they get them so they don't miss a day of work. Kids don't go rollerblading to decrease rising trends in obesity, they do it for the cool factor--and it's fun. Women won't breast feed their babies to save Medicaid money (though it does), they do it for a special mother-child bond. And did you know you burn more calories breast feeding than during the actual pregnancy? Oh, the fun facts we learn in social marketing. 

4. Position--this is how we deal with competition. Competition is all the things in life that take time or money away from the action desired by our campaign.

It can be the internet *wave* Hi y'all!*
It can be jobs.
It can be sleep, school, relaxing activities.
Even other health needs like cooking dinner.

Again, nuance. We will return to ways to deal with the competition.

5. Augmented product: All the toys that make selling the product (can of soda, rollerblading, breast feeding) so much easier! Free entry to skateparks, pink ribbons, baseball caps, etc. Reusable grocery bags help reduce plastic bag litter.

6. Price: The price is right. Vaccinations are often covered by insurance or federal and state programs (hurray, something to use our insurance dollars!). Breast feeding: Cheaper than formula! Rollerblading...well, free skate rentals sound good. I still question if free=better sales. In vet school we are told that people who enroll in puppy classes are less likely to get rid of the puppy, because they feel they have an investment. And hands up--who goes to the gym because they're paying for it?

7. Placement: Can be surprisingly closely tied to price. Convenience is huge. Recycling only caught on once curb-side pick-up was started and let people follow their exact same routine.

8. Promotion: The smallest factor. Not that it hurts to have a marketing budget, corporations have found they can budge their bottom line a crucial percentage point or two, enough to pay for super bowl ads. But it only lets people know there's a program. All the other factors make them want to take part in it.

We hope.

June 2014

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