Following on from John Bromley's piece yesterday on Michael Porter and 'shared value', our guest blogger is Bill Smith, one of the world's leading specialists in social marketing and social change. In this article, Bill gives his view.
Porter makes some interesting points in his recent article and BBC interview. Question: Will his vision of shared value − "companies solving social problems and making a buck too" − put social marketing out of business? Well, let's hope so, but don't plan on it.
Porter's idea raises an interesting perspective for us as social marketers. Isn't social marketing functionally a mechanism to fix a fundamental flaw in the commercial marketing system, namely in how the poor are served? Social marketing provides products and services to people who cannot afford to pay for them; or put another way, the commercial guys have not found a way to provide products and services cheap enough for a segment of the population to pay for. Therefore, condoms are subsidised; advice on cancer screening is given away free; and immunisation campaigns overcome people fears of vaccines (or at least when they work, they do).