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Use social marketing to change beliefs and behaviors

Social change usually reflects widespread changes in beliefs, which, in turn, influence behavior and then outcomes. A strategic marketing campaign alone will not create social change, but it is essential to changing the beliefs of influential groups. The success of a public health campaign depends on whether it presents the facts persuasively. Examples include the campaigns against tobacco, drunk driving, and domestic violence, and the campaigns promoting safe sex, immunizations, and the use of seatbelts and car seats.

Social marketing techniques for the government to consider include:

• Creating a series of short documents that educate stakeholders about the findings of the literature reviews (see Recommendation 3)

• Using research on the techniques for influencing individual behavior and prompting social change to construct and disseminate messages customized to stakeholders

• Using evidence-based techniques to spread the customized messages quickly, widely, and effectively

• Reaching out to targeted groups of stakeholders with the new information and ideas. This includes not only writing to stakeholders but also engaging them in dialogue by inviting them to conferences, going to their conferences, and meeting with them in person

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Idea No. 4