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Social marketing
Social marketing

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4 Stakeholders and target markets

4.1 Introduction

Greenley and Foxall (1998) emphasise that the marketing literature typically focuses on only two stakeholder groups (consumers and competitors), arguing that this should be extended to include other key stakeholders. Freeman (1984) highlights the interdependence of organisations and their stakeholders, i.e. ‘any group or individual who can affect or is affected by the achievement of the organisation's objectives’ (p. 46). This definition emphasises the wide range of individuals, groups and organisations who/which might have an interest in social marketing programmes.

Hastings (2007) makes a similar point when he discusses ‘moving upstream’. Discussion of social marketing typically focuses on the individual or groups of individuals whose behaviour change is the aim of the programme or activity. The social marketing network, however, involves a whole range of organisations, and others, for the social marketer to engage with as additional target markets. This is a particular issue when considering both the policy development and service delivery aspects of social marketing, for example, influencing governmental bodies to implement legislation regarding food labelling or smoking bans or GPs to offer consumer-friendly family planning services.

When developing a marketing strategy for potential/actual collaborators, the same social marketing principles and practices apply. A fundamental question relates to the nature of the exchange, i.e. why should government introduce an environmental policy or a school agree to allocate resources to prevent bullying? To put it bluntly, ‘What's in it for them?’ or alternatively, how can we achieve goal congruence between the social marketer and these upstream organisations so that behavioural change can be achieved? Once we are clear as to the target market then strategies can be developed to persuade upstream audiences that a specific behavioural change will fulfil their own goals. Here a knowledge of organisational behaviour will aid in developing a marketing plan, for example, an appreciation of the complexity of the organisational decision-making process and the range of individuals involved; power relationships and political motivations. Relationship marketing strategies, which originally developed within an organisational marketing context, are more likely to predominate over the traditional marketing mix approach. Personal representation is a key element of the communication process. Understanding individuals, their organisational relationships and motivations is crucial to effective upstream social marketing.