Community-Based Social Marketing

I just finished reading this quick-reference guide to Community-Based Social Marketing by Doug McKenzie-Mohr. This is a condensed version of the concepts from the online book, which appears to be an updated version of the book Fostering Sustainable Behavior from 1999.

With an eye towards the dorm energy competition we are planning at UH, I found the concepts very useful and it seems like our initial requirements for the website are headed in the right direction. For example, we plan to have participants make public commitments online through the site, in particular commitments that should be visible to other residents on the participant’s floor. We also plan to make the commitments very public via large-screen displays in the lobbies of the dorm(s). This is in keeping with McKenzie-Mohr’s recommendations on the use of commitments.

One member of the design team (Shanah) suggested that we have a weekly individual winner for each floor, so that each floor would have someone to look for assistance and encouragement. This is a great example of using the concept of “norms” to encourage people to alter their behavior.

The current design calls for extensive incentives in the form of coupons, pizza parties, and maybe iPods. McKenzie-Mohr cautions that removing incentives (which will happen at the end of the competition) can actually reduce internal motivation that existed before the provision of incentives. It will be interesting to see what happens to electricity usage after the competition is over.

The other lesson we need to take heed of us the use of focus groups and possibly surveys while we are designing the competition. We need to know what our target audience thinks about the competition, and the design of the website.

The Community-Based Social Marketing website has more information and lots of links to articles and case studies.

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