Conducting an evaluation is not simply a task that is carried out after the intervention is complete.  Evaluation is a task area that supports the development of the intervention itself (formative evaluation), the delivery and implementation of the intervention (process evaluation); and the assessment of the overall impact of the intervention (outcome evaluation).  Evaluation, therefore, needs to be conducted at different points in the overall social marketing process – before, during, and after implementation.

Formative or ‘front end’ is finding out what is likely to be effective in motivating the target audience and ensuring that the intervention will be accessible and understandable.  It is important not to forget about the potential contribution of formative evaluation and give it the time and resources required.

While a retrospective evaluation of the process – how the intervention was carried out and delivered – can provide a lot of valuable information about why it had the effect it had, the implementation process also needs to be closely monitored as you go, in order spot difficulties and respond to them when you still have a chance.

Finally, once the intervention has been delivered you need to look back and evaluate the process as a whole, and assess what has actually been achieved, particularly in terms of behaviour change among the target audiences, whether or not the effort has been worthwhile, and what has been learned from it.