Step 5: Broad-scale Implementation
Always remember that the future comes one day at a time.
When a pilot has demonstrated that a behavioral change can be brought about cost-effectively, it is time to broadly implement the strategy. Prior to broad-scale implementation, collect baseline information regarding the present level of engagement in the behavior to be promoted. Where possible, use actual observations of behavior or reliable records (e.g., water meter readings) rather than self-reports to establish this baseline. Once you have implemented your program, begin to collect data to ascertain its impact. Keep in mind that you will want to conduct these evaluations at different time intervals in order to assess whether your behavioral change strategy is having a long-term impact. It is common with repetitive behavioral changes, such as recycling, for engagement in the behavior to trail off. Ongoing evaluation will allow you to detect these changes and implement programs to counter them.
In implementing the strategy broadly, advertising and local media can be used to create additional awareness that would have been undesirable during the pilot. In implementing an initiative throughout a community, limited advertising resources can be leveraged by creating public awareness through hosting media events to both launch the campaign and provide feedback on its success.
How would the Buy-Recycled campaign, introduced in the two previous chapters, be evaluated were it to be implemented broadly? A random selection of participating retailers would be chosen to participate in the evaluation. Baseline data from the electronic inventories of these stores would be obtained and then compared to changes that occurred in the purchase of the recycled-content products following the launch of the campaign. To provide an overall picture of the impact this campaign had upon the purchase of these products, the average increase in the purchase of these products across all product categories and evaluation stores would be determined. This information not only serves as a critical test of the success of the initiative, but serves two other important functions. First, it is important to provide the individuals who shop at these stores with feedback regarding the impact that purchases have upon the environment. In other words, an element of a successful community-based social marketing strategy is providing feedback that reinforces changes that people have made. The media will often provide you with a cost-effective way of getting this information back to consumers, though other possibilities exist. One vivid and ongoing form of feedback is to provide shoppers in each retail store with a yardstick of their efforts. By setting up a display in which the percentage increase in the purchase of these products is updated on a regular basis, shoppers can be provided with an ongoing source of feedback and encouragement (the use of this form of feedback can also help to further establish a social norm regarding the purchase of recycled-content products). Second, program evaluation provides evidence of concrete results, which will assist you in convincing funding agencies that your campaign deserves continued support.
Guidelines for Selecting Consultants
You may wish to contract out the design, implementation and evaluation of your program. Here are some suggestions to increase the likelihood that you ultimately choose a firm with the necessary skills to use community-based social marketing. In the request for proposals, ask that submissions:
- be based upon community-based social marketing methods;
- specify how behaviors will be selected;
- specify how barriers and benefits will be identified;
- clarify what behavior change tools might be used (e.g., commitment, prompts, norms, social diffusion, etc.);
- indicate how the strategy will be piloted;
- specify how the program will be evaluated once implemented throughout the community;
- provide evidence of competence in survey design, program evaluation and data analysis (at least one member of the research team should have graduate level training in research methods and statistics); and
- provide evidence of familiarity with designing and implementing community-based social marketing strategies.
The Final Report: Getting the Word Out
After conducting a literature review; observations; focus groups; writing, conducting and analyzing a survey; devising a strategy; scrutinizing it with focus groups and a stakeholder committee; piloting the strategy; revising the strategy; implementing it throughout the community; and evaluating it, you should be finished, right? Wrong. Community-based social marketing is an emerging field that holds great promise for moving us toward a sustainable future. Take the time to write up a final report and make sure that people know about it via the discussion forums on our website. Whether your community-based social marketing strategy was successful or not, others need to learn from your efforts.