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The use of social marketing has been around since the 1970s. With time the social marketing has continued to make a notch for itself as different from commercial marketing. Although the two share some theories and practices they are geared in different ways. While social marketing aims to educate society and improve it through advocacy for change in behavior, commercial marketing is more geared towards creation of profits.
Although social marketing has continued to grow and become more visible in society, it still has a long way to go to yield the same level of success that commercial marketing has. Commercial marketing has been innovative with time finding new methods of reaching the target audience. Unless commercial marketing strategies are used in the social marketing field to improve the performance of social marketing, social marketing will continue to lag in its marketing potential. Social marketing needs to borrow from the effective principles in commercial marketing in order to fully attain its role as a marketing vehicle. The study will examine the problems that social marketing faces which can be eliminated by the use of commercial marketing principles.
Research has been done in the field of social marketing both from the point of view of business marketing and also through professions that mostly utilize social marketing Social Marketing Wiki. (2010). This study in professions has mostly been in the field of health (Kotler and Lee, 2004). According to Andreasen (2002) certain social marketing principles, principles that are used in commercial marketing too, can be used to garner appreciation for social marketing. One of the main stumbling blocks to the effectiveness of social marketing is the little appreciation given to management. There is also less emphasis put on the positioning of brands. Failure to use academic and proper documentation has also led to numerous problems. According to Andreasen (2002) more use of competitive positioning and branding could greatly advance the reception of social marketing in the field of advertising.
While social marketing may share some aspects of commercial marketing, the focus it places in behavior change makes it unique as Brier and Bryant (2005) found out in their research. According to the two researchers, health professionals who have most used social marketing fail to comprehend the extra mile that social marketing has to go beyond marketing principles. Brier and Bryant show how social marketing can be enhanced by use of marketing theories and other parts of marketing like marketing mix and audience segmentation. In order to achieve full success though, social marketing needs to use other tools used in behavior management.
A study by Kotler and Lee (2004) argue out the concept exercised in corporate social marketing. Kotler and Lee cite social marketing programs “Healthy Smiles” by Crest, “Use it wisely” by Home Depot and “Fire Free”by Safeco to outline the benefits of social marketing as a tool of social responsibility given by corporate (Kotler and Lee, 2004). When companies use their commercial marketing strategies and techniques towards social marketing they are able to attain more benefit as a result of the changes in societal behaviors. Kotler and Lee also discuss aspects that can be used to promote social marketing by the corporate world to ensure that social marketing works for them. These include their philanthropy, business exercises that are socially responsible and promotions geared towards causes
Research into marketing theories that can fit into social marketing needs to be studied to find out how theories and principle in commercial marketing can improve social marketing. Without improving the delivery of social marketing it will continue to fail in garnering the kind of success and progress that commercial marketing has earned. Social marketing has come a long way. It needs to fully utilize the principles of marketing that have been found to reach markets.
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