This week the National Social Marketing Centre launches its Social Marketing Planning Guide and Toolbox, designed to ensure that new and experienced social marketing practitioners can feel confident that they have the tools to implement an effective behaviour change or social marketing initiative. 

The guide is available via the NSMC website and combines practical “how to” tools along with guidance about all aspects of developing and implementing a social marketing intervention.

The NSMC will also be producing a printed leaflet of the guide and toolbox process, which will be available from April 2010. 

Many of the key challenges facing society today are behavioural, from smoking and rising obesity levels to crime, anti-social behaviour and recycling, and so influencing behaviour is an increasingly important issue and one that all the major political parties are keen to address. 

The NSMC is confident that its new guide and toolbox will be an essential tool for all those involved in such initiatives. 

Following extensive testing with a range of Department of Health stakeholders, the guide is produced in an easy to use format, so anyone using it can immediately identify the tools and guidance that they need. 

It covers all aspects of the process of implementing a campaign, from getting started, scoping, research and barriers to success, through to pre-testing, implementation and sharing best practice. 

Drop-down menus are a clear and concise way of ensuring that users can see at a glance the specific sections they need and the level of depth they require. Tools such as articles and checklists are downloadable and there is an opportunity to feed back ideas for improving or adding to the range of options.

Quality benchmarks

The launch of the guide is the first phase of the NSMC’s mission to set the quality and standard benchmarks that will maximise the impact and effectiveness of behavioural change and social marketing initiatives. 

NSMC director John Bromley said: “The NSMC has the expertise to offer strategic advice to government and national organisations and to establish and maintain standards in social marketing. While until now, our work has focused mainly on health initiatives we know that social marketing is an essential component of many other areas where behavioural change is desirable or necessary, be it transport, the environment or energy efficiency.

Mr Bromley added: “Even in departments or organisations where social marketing is still relatively in its infancy, it is now generally accepted and understood as a necessary component of any change strategy. The focus now has to be on ensuring quality control of behaviour change and social marketing interventions and NSMC is best placed to set those standards.”

The launch of the guide and toolbox is only the first stage of the NSMC’s strategy for improving the delivery of behavioural change and social marketing interventions. Following feedback and input from those using the guide, the NSMC will continue to develop it through the addition of case histories and examples of good practice. 

“Anyone involved in social marketing knows that all aspects of behavioural change are ‘work in progress’.  When change in behaviour is effected and service delivery has changed to meet the need, it does not stop there. The commitment to change is ongoing and as people change so do their needs, so maintaining positive change and responding to it is a key element of the process.  Similarly our new guide and toolbox isn’t a static thing, it will grow and develop just as any social marketing intervention has to,” said Mr Bromley.

As part of its commitment to establishing and maintaining the standards in social marketing, the NSMC has commissioned the British Standards Institute to identify the most appropriate way of undertaking this. 

The BSI is currently undertaking a comprehensive study with a variety of stakeholders across all aspects of their social marketing activities and will make recommendations to the NSMC in April, which the organisation will announce soon after.