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Social Marketing

marketing, social marketing, marketing mix, selling skills, marketing public services

It is becoming increasingly recognized that the marketing concept is also applicable in not-for-profit situations like the public sector. The public sector is well known for its non-commercial objectives where profit at least in the strict sense is not one of the objectives. Government departments, the police, trade unions and associations, environmental groups and churches can all be said in a sense to have ‘customers’ and to be offering ‘products’ and ‘services’. The term ‘social marketing’ is often used in this context.

Philip Kotler, a Montgomery Ward Professor of Marketing at the Graduate School of Management, North Western University, Evanston, Illinois, has examined this idea in depth. From it he has developed a wider concept of marketing than one that deals only with solely profit-making commercial organizations. According to Kotler, the concept of marketing is the transaction. A transaction is the exchange of values between two parties. The things of value need not be limited to goods, services, and money, they can also include other resources such as time, energy, and feelings. Transactions occur not only between buyers and sellers, and organizations and clients, but also between any two parties. A transaction takes place, for example, when a person decides to watch a television program and he is therefore exchanging his time for entertainment. A transaction takes place when a person gives money to a charity when he is basically exchanging money for a good conscience. Marketing is specifically concerned with how transactions are created, stimulated, facilitated and valued. This is the generic concept of marketing.

Marketing is an approach to producing desired responses in another party that lies midway between coercion on the one hand and brainwashing on the other. The core concern of marketing is that of producing desired responses in free individuals by the deliberate creation and offering of values. The marketer is attempting to get value from the market through offering value to it. The marketer’s problem is to create attractive values. Value is completely subjective and exists in the eyes of the relevant markets. Marketers must understand the market in order to be effective in creating value. This is the essential meaning of the marketing concept.

The marketer seeks to create value in four ways. He can try to design the social object more attractively (configuration); he can put attractive terms on the social object (valuation); he can add symbolic significance in the social object (symbolization); and he can make it easier for the market to obtain the social object (facilitation). He may use these activities in reverse if he wants the social object to be avoided. These four activities have a rough correspondence to more conventional statements of marketing purpose, such as the use of product, price, promotion, and place to stimulate exchange.

This bring us back to the commercial profit-marketing world again, where it is common to talk of ‘added value.’ Basically, marketing is concerned with adding maximum value to a product or service to make it attractive and desirable to consumers while keeping costs at a minimum.

Value can be added in the following ways:
By converting raw materials into components or finished goods (steelmaking, car manufacture);
By breaking bulk, packaging or processing products (wholesaling, takeaway meals);
By transporting goods from one place to another (importing tropical fruits);
By making goods available at a more convenient time (canned or frozen foods).
Published: 2007-04-14
Author: Martin Hahn

About the author or the publisher
Martin Hahn PhD has received his education and degrees in Europe in organizational/industrial sociology. He grew up in South-East Asia and moved to Europe to get his tertiary education and gain experience in the fields of scientific research, radio journalism, and management consulting.

After living in Europe for 12 years, he moved to South-East again and has worked for the last 12 years as a management consultant, university lecturer, corporate trainer, and international school administrator

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