Wise Words from the 2018 Social Marketing Conference

By Darcy Sawatzki

July 24, 2018

July 24, 2018 – Every other year, I look forward to sharing ideas and inspiration with fellow social marketers at the University of South Florida’s Social Marketing Conference in Clearwater, FL. We all have one thing in common: a commitment to using marketing principles to impact behaviors and social good. Whether we are trying to get boat drivers to appoint a “designated skipper” to reduce boating while intoxicated or hosting pet training events to keep dogs in Australia from attacking koala bears, the work is conducted with a deep respect for the people we are trying to help and a determination to knock down the barriers that are keeping them from making the best choices.

This year’s conference was no exception. I attended as a presenter to discuss the challenges and opportunities for social marketing funding and leadership in the U.S. But there were many other words of wisdom throughout the conference that I will carry with me into my work.

“We can do more to change behavior when we work with people to do what they want to do.” -Sharyn Rundle-Thiele, Social Marketing @ Griffith University

“Expect less from people to get their attention, because they don’t care as much as you do.” -Judd Harner, JUDD

“Upstream-minded social marketing is a shift. It looks at more than one issue at a time to build long-term, sustainable system change.” -Francois Lagarde, Chignon Foundation

“Engage stakeholders early and often, listen to your audience, and create a model of your initiative with measurable outcomes.” -Ashani Johnson-Turbes, NORC at the University of Chicago

“We need to make social marketing fun to break through. Gamification can help.” -Timo Dietrich, Griffith University

“To create change, we need ‘health’ not to look like a stock photo.” -Jeff Jordan, Rescue

So many of the talks echoed the fundamental wisdom of Bill Smith’s “Fun, Easy, Popular” construct. In this construct, social marketers must ask: 1. How much fun is what I’m asking people to do? 2. Do they have easy access to the offered services? and 3. How popular is taking the offered advice going to be with friends? At KYNE, we tackle some pretty serious health issues…but we always look for ways to delight and bring joy to the people we are seeking to help.

Still need more inspiration? Then you’ve got to watch this video summary of a condom campaign from Stockholm. Fun, easy, popular.

Finally, I want to thank my co-presenters in our session. Rachel Tyree from the LA County Department of Public Health, Ronne Ostby from Fors Marsh Group, and Christina Zurla from ICF joined me to lead an interactive session on how we can advance social marketing solutions to big problems by harnessing the talent across the private, public and academic sectors. A special thanks to Lynne Doner Lotenberg from Elucidate Change who helped us draft the questionnaire and analyze the survey results that served as the basis of our workshop. More to come on the results of that survey and workshop – we are hoping to write them up for publishing!