This glossary provides definitions of many commonly-heard terms in social marketing. However, as social marketing is developing all the time, it is not an exhaustive list.

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Behaviour change A term referring to giving up, modifying or adopting a behaviour. 

Behavioural objectives The specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound (SMART) behavioural objectives a social marketing intervention seeks to achieve. 

Benchmark Criteria A set of eight criteria, developed by the NSMC from original work by Alan Andreasen, that articulates key components of social marketing: Customer Orientation, Behaviour, Theory, Insight, Exchange, Competition, Segmentation and Methods Mix. 

Citizen-centric An approach that positions citizens (and their rights and responsibilities) at its core. 

Competition The competing interests and factors that influence individual or group behaviour. A social marketing intervention should consider what competes for the audience’s time and attention. 

Customer orientation This ensures that the customer is at the centre of all considerations in the development and implementation of an intervention. The customer may be the consumer/primary audience, or it may be their immediate influencers, peers, work colleagues or policy-makers. 

Customer journey mapping Customer journey mapping is the process of tracking and recording the experiences that customers have as they use a service or set of services. It takes into account not only what happens to them, but also their responses to their experiences. 

Demographic A way of classifying the population by certain characteristics such as: age, sex, class, culture, education or income. 

Development stage The second stage of the Total Process Planning model, where the intervention options selected during the scoping stage are developed and pre-tested (see ‘Total Process Planning Model’). 

Epidemiology The study of the occurrence and distribution of disease or other health-related characteristics across populations. 

Ethics Considerations about moral ‘rights’ and ‘wrongs’. In social marketing, these are usually associated with influencing behaviour. Social marketers must be open and transparent in their examination of ethical issues when seeking to influence individual or group behaviours. Ethical decisions must be grounded in the concept of evidence-based practice and include consideration of proportionality, acceptability and longer term effectiveness. 

Evaluation stage The fourth stage of the Total Process Planning model, where a formal review is undertaken and recorded, to assess what has been achieved. It considers the process, impact and outcome of the work to date (see ‘Total Process Planning Model’). 

Exchange The process by which the costs to the target audience of giving up a problem behaviour and taking on a new one are reduced, and the new behaviour’s benefits are increased. It recognises that if a person or group is to be encouraged to adopt or maintain a particular behaviour, there must be a clear benefit to them. 

Follow-up stage The fifth stage of the Total Process Planning model, where the formal findings from the written evaluation report are discussed with the funders, commissioners and partners or stakeholders in order to consider implications for further work (see ‘Total Process Planning Model’). 

Four Ps A traditional term used in commercial marketing, describing four variables that control the ‘offering’ of a marketing intervention: Product, Price, Promotion and Place (see ‘Methods/marketing mix’). 

Insight A focus on gaining a deep understanding of the target audience. It moves beyond simply looking at demographic or epidemiological issues to focus on what ‘moves and motivates’ people. The associated concept of ‘actionable insight’ involves looking for insights that could inform methods to support and encourage positive behaviours. 

Implementation stage The third stage of the Total Process Planning model, where the chosen intervention is implemented. It should be adapted and adjusted as required, as new opportunities and potential threats are identified (see ‘Total Process Planning Model’). 

Intervention mix The range of interventions that are used to achieve a particular behavioural goal, and the relative balance or mix between them. It is commonly considered at the strategic social marketing level, when all intervention options are considered prior to selection of the ones to include in the ‘mix’. A key consideration is to get the optimal balance between different interventions that balance control, education, design and support. 

Media advocacy The strategic use of the mass media and their tools in combination with community mobilisation for the purpose of advancing public health and social conditions. 

Methods/marketing mix The term used to refer to the range of marketing approaches and methods that could be adopted to achieve a given behavioural goal. It is commonly applied at the operational social marketing level, when a specific intervention is undertaken (see also ‘Intervention mix’). 

Motivations The desires that underpin people’s behaviours, such as self-interest, attitudes, beliefs and risk perceptions. 

Operational social marketing The term used to refer to using social marketing as a planned process to achieve specific behavioural goals audience. 

Proposition A term referring to what it is thought will move and motivate people to achieve, sustain or change a given behaviour. The development of a ‘working proposition’ is a key output from the initial ‘scoping stage’ of social marketing. This is then taken into the ‘development stage’ as a particular initiative or intervention, where it is developed and pre-tested. 

Psychographics A way of understanding target audiences by looking at factors such as their beliefs, values and motivations. 

Scoping stage This is the first and most important stage in the planned social marketing process. It is where insight into the customer is first considered alongside potential behavioural theories within the design of an intervention. It is also where a focus on specific behaviours is first considered and initial ‘behavioural goals’ are established. An intervention should produce a specific ‘scoping report’ that sets out the initial analysis and is a guide to development, review and evaluation (see ‘Total Process Planning Model’). 

Segmentation The analysis of the different ways that a target audience can be divided in order to effectively tailor intervention methods and approaches. Social marketing does not use a single way to segment an audience but instead explores and considers the different ways this might be done. It moves beyond using only traditional ‘targeting’ approaches (such as demography and epidemiology) to include psychographic factors and understanding where people are in relation to a given behaviour (such as: in denial; strongly resisting; willing but feeling difficulty; and willing but not yet achieving). 

Social advertising The use of advertising to achieve socially beneficial goals. 

Social good This is the defining aim of social marketing. Key ethical questions consider how, and by whom, ‘social good’ is defined. An ethical social marketing approach seeks to ensure a clear and transparent evidence base for the benefits being proposed to the individuals or communities being addressed, and relevant audiences are actively involved in the way the social good is defined. 

Social marketing The systematic application of marketing, alongside other concepts and techniques, to achieve specific behaviour goals for a social or public good. 

Strategic social marketing The use of social marketing concepts and principles across the policy formulation, strategy development and operational delivery levels. This is distinct from ‘operational social marketing’ as described above. 

Total Process Planning Model A systematic and planned process which sets out five simple stages to follow when planning social marketing interventions. The learning and insights from each stage (Scope, Develop, Implement, Evaluate, Follow-up) are used to feed into the following stage and ultimately the development of new interventions. 

Theory Theories about how humans behave as individuals or in groups, that are used to inform social marketing interventions. 

Voluntary action Individual choices made without coercion. A key concern in social marketing is considering what will move and motivate people to make voluntary choices, going beyond just relying on the ‘potential power of a message’.