Ten Steps of Strategic Planning in Social Marketing

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Planning social programs is as essential as organizing a business campaign; thus, a 10-step strategic planning model is foundational for social marketing to promote an idea that will primarily benefit the priority audience. In fact, social marketing is defined as the implementation of commercial marketing methods to programs that can alter people’s behavior and improve their wellbeing (Andreasen, 1994). For instance, this approach could enhance hygiene in sub-Saharan barbershops by showing the advantages of proper antiseptic techniques (Kwitonda, 2020). A systematic approach, consisting of ten stages, was developed to make it more effective. The ten steps are describing social issues, conducting situational analysis, selecting a target audience, establishing behavior goals, identifying insights, position statement, marketing mix, evaluation, setting the budget, and implementation plan (Lee & Kotler, 2019). This paper will focus on how strategic planning is used in social marketing, how these steps work together, and how this knowledge helped resolve real-world problems that demand behavioral change. Strategic planning for social marketing was shown to improve some challenging situations among specific groups, encouraging parents to vaccinate their children in Oklahoma and diminishing stigma about mental health illnesses in New Zealand.

How Does Strategic Planning Work in Social Marketing?

The strategic planning model used in social marketing intends to make an impact by changing the priority audience’s behavioral patterns, utilizing distinct steps. For example, it may convince individuals to quit smoking, vaccinate, or practice water and energy frugality. However, altering people’s attitudes and decisions is difficult, and thus it requires a thorough understanding of individuals’ concerns and psychology to utilize proper levers to influence their behavior. Indeed, according to Lee and Kotler (2019), a change can only be attained through a well-developed integrated strategy, which must be evaluated before the implementation. The planning for social marketing programs starts with a literature review and interviews to understand the current situation in a particular field and reveal the most significant problems (Lee and Kotler, 2019). Furthermore, formative research should be conducted to identify and understand the target group (Lee and Kotler, 2019). Lastly, the program needs to undergo a pre-test and internal assessment to maximize the probability of a successful outcome (Lee and Kotler, 2019). Overall, the essence of strategic planning in social programs is theoretical and practical preparation, evaluation, and proper use of marketing tools for non-commercial campaigns.

The Ten Steps of the Strategic Model in Social Marketing

The ten steps of the strategic model are interrelated and conjointly help achieve the established goals in a particular program. The first step of this model lays the foundation of the entire program by identifying the background of the campaign’s issues, aims, and focus (Lee and Kotler, 2019). The second phase is needed to determine the potential influence of internal and external factors (Lee and Kotler, 2019). In fact, this stage prepares the program for possible resistance from the primary audience and develops strategies to minimize it. During the third stage, a detailed description of the group of people is given because knowing the audience is a pivotal point in the success of the change campaign. The next three steps define the objectives of the desired behavioral change and the primary group’s insights (Lee and Kotler, 2019). The next phase, like in business, wants to demonstrate the benefits of the program compared to other behaviors using the strategic intervention mix, the 4P model (Lee and Kotler, 2019). The eighth stage requires the plan’s assessment before the budget is approved, and it will be implemented in the subsequent last two steps.

The Relevant Literature and Application to Social Issues

The Vaccination Program in Oklahoma

A 10-step strategic model is a valuable tool for improving people’s behavior to help them become healthier. For instance, one of the most outstanding programs implemented using social marketing is the vaccination Due by Two campaign in Oklahoma (Jones et al., 1996). The rationale behind this program was the rise of immunization-preventable infections among pre-school children from low-income American families in different parts of the country in the late 1980s (Jones et al., 1996). This campaign used television to increase awareness about the importance of timely shots (Jones et al., 1996). Furthermore, the local government allocated more budget to increase the number of vaccination centers in Oklahoma (Jones et al., 1996). It appears that this program’s methodology was in agreement with the model described in the textbook because they included a literature review, financial planning, evaluation, and implementation; however, there was no pre-testing step. The outcome was that the number of immunized children under the age of two rose substantially from 1987 to 1992 (Jones et al., 1996). This case demonstrates that identifying issues and proper planning to resolve them is essential in social programs.

Mental Health Campaign in New Zealand

The second example of successful social marketing implementation was the Like Minds movement in New Zealand. This campaign was started because about 75% of people with mental health problems did not seek professional help “due to stigma and discrimination” (Kemper & Kennedy, 2021, p. 83). The program employed media advertisement and public surveys during the campaign. In fact, a stagewise representation of the issue involving celebrities, physicians, and patients highlighted the importance of creating a support network for these individuals. Moreover, a deep understanding of the target population’s psychology allowed them to develop effective verbal and symbolic messages to influence their perceptions (Kemper & Kennedy, 2021). It resulted in the substantial change of healthy people’s attitudes towards mental health illness in this country. Nevertheless, although the outcomes of this case were positive, they do not seem to fully utilize the 10-step model, as described in the textbook.


In summary, ten steps of strategic planning in social marketing are essential for developing programs that can help people modify their behavior to improve their health or resolve societal problems. The model starts with a literature review to identify central issues and obstacles, then determines the priority audience and is completed with pre-testing, evaluation, planning budget, and implementation. It appears that all stages are required to create an effective campaign. The two examples reviewed in this paper were timely immunization in pre-school children and reducing stigmatization of mental health disease programs. Although these campaigns did not fully implement all ten steps, they were effective due to proper planning and financing. Developing social marketing events that will make an impact is a challenging task that requires theoretical and practical knowledge. Notably, this field is highly individualized because every situation needs a unique approach. Nevertheless, the 10-step model is a valuable method that provides robust guidance for this purpose. Overall, this topic is crucial because social issues demand solutions that can alter people’s mindsets and behavior using powerful strategies.


Andreasen, A. R. (1994). Social marketing: Its definition and domain. Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, 13(1), 108-114. Web.

Jones, R. W., Marshall, C., & Bergman, T. P. (1996). Can a marketing campaign be used to achieve public policy goals? Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, 15(1), 98-107. Web.

Kemper, J., & Kennedy, A. M. (2021). Evaluating social marketing messages in New Zealand’s like minds campaign and its effect on stigma. Social Marketing Quarterly, 27(2), 82-98. Web.

Kwitonda, J. C. (2020). The marketing mix and hygienic barbershop use: A formative study. Social Marketing Quarterly, 26(4), 361-377. Web.

Lee, N. R., & Kotler, P. (2019). Social marketing: Behavior change for social good (6th ed.). Sage Publications.

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