What does it take to bring about behavior shifts?

Just because you place an ad doesn’t mean it will ignite behavior change. There is an assumption that if brands can get audience attention, give a piece of information, and associate the brand with emotions, marketers will inspire behavior change. 

If marketers only focus on persuading to change an audience beliefs and preferences, how easy do you think it will be for them to change? 

How can you ensure your marketing inspires people to change behavior?

Instead of trying to persuade your audience to change their believes or values, you meet them where they are by addressing knowledge gaps, social norms, and environment, you might have a change to ignite behavior change. 

Think about that for a second. Audiences look at content through their own lens of personal experiences, knowledge, values, attitudes, beliefs, and motivations. And not everyone will be using a product for the same reasons. We need to think how a product, message, and the behavior change you are promoting fits into their lives.  

Storytelling with cultural insight, not generalization, leads to influencing behavior and better experience. It’s the difference between designing a relevant marketing campaign and a generic one.

Telling stories that resonate and personalize your message for your audience is important, but how do you do this? Here are three elements that might help.

Knowledge Gap: 

Does your audience know about the behavior, do they understand, and do they think it is relevant to them? You might be presenting a solution to a problem; however, your audience might not be there with you. She might have a basic knowledge and understanding or none at all of the issue and risk you are presenting. A mistake is to assume, that your audience knows what you know, and wants what you want. Different audiences might have different knowledge base and if they don’t see a need or how it fits into their lives, they will not perceive your message relevant.

To optimize your goals, meet your audience where they are. Think that different behavior objectives might be necessary for different groups of people. 

Match the creative and message to your customer needs and understand your audience’s intent. Marketers need to understand exactly how people feel about an issue, use a product, what values, habits, aspirations or motivations will drive change.

Social Norms 

Will doing this new behavior be acceptable? Will it fit with their actual or aspirational self-image? Does it fit with how they relate to others or want to?

Behavior change is a function of social context. People want to live up to what is expected of them.  Culture, family, community, and peer influence are powerful forces in behavior.  

To build a story that creates cultural tension, make the new behavior desirable. You can take your consumers down a different path of resistance by stringing together the audience value and aspiration with the intended behavior. The objective is to make the new behavior acceptable and visible if possible. 

Community

Once people have made a change, what can we do to help them keep doing it?

People want to be part of something. Create an environment where your audience feels supported, can get and provide feedback, and is reminded to make the new behavior a habit. A simple way of doing this is creating a social medial group on Facebook, WhatsApp, or any other social media platform where they feel comfortable sharing and engaging. 

Marketers can be powerful agents for change when they understand people’s knowledge gaps, their audience social context, and the intent of why they use products or do what they what they do.  They can even be more powerful and more helpful when they can reach diverse groups of people with stories that are relevant to each audience group. 

Social Media Campaign Essentials

5 Social Media Campaign Essentials

Today’s communications landscape calls for an omnichannel media strategy and a social media campaign is often a component of this strategy. A successful social media campaign is more than publishing content on Twitter and Instagram. It requires a detailed strategy and clear goals that align with business objectives.

To achieve social media campaign goals, you should consider the following five main components of a communications campaign:

  1. Who is the target audience?
  2. What key points are important? What information will move the audience to action?
  3. Channel. What are the appropriate social media platforms for the audience?
  4. Develop original, branded content to establish thought leadership, visibility, and impact (social media content, blog posts, photos, videos). Curated content: Share relevant, informative content from external sources to showcase industry authority.
  5. Performance. Continuously monitor campaign performance with data analytics. Use dashboards to manage content and analytics for real-time adjustments.

In addition to these five facets of a communications campaign, conducting market research and using the appropriate social media tools can help you enhance productivity and effectiveness.

Be thoughtful and strategic—avoid falling into the trap of trying to reach everyone with multiple messages, using numerous social media platforms.

This article was written by Dr. Selena A. Ramkeesoon. Selena is a communications strategist in the Washington, DC metro area. Ⓒ 2019, Selena A. Ramkeesoon. All Rights Reserved.

Is There a Blind Spot in Your Marketing Strategy?

If you have not considered marketing to Latinos, you might be missing a growth opportunity. The Latino consumer market is the fastest growing segment in America with spending power to the tune of $1.7 trillion—the equivalent of capturing a share of the Canadian or Mexican economy.

Currently, Latinos account for 1 in 5 Americans and soon will constitute 1 in 3 of the U.S. population.  Moreover, more than half of the U.S. Hispanic population is under the age of 29. Additionally, 25% of Generation Z, (3 to-23 years old) the largest generation group in the U.S., is Hispanic.

Latinos are well-connected and a powerful social force. They communicate more frequently with family, friends, and colleagues than non-Hispanics. According to the Keller Fay Group, compared to other ethnic groups, Latinos talk 20 times more about brands, and are 5 times more likely to share shopping recommendations according to CivicScience.  This means outreach to Hispanics can boost your marketing investment. Specifically, an earned media multiplier effect—brand awareness and peer influence—can result in an increased ROI.

If you are developing a Latino marketing campaign, let’s take a look at three potential blind spots:

Engaging Latino

Strategy goes nowhere unless it starts with the customer. John Sculley in his book Moonshot, advises the reader to put the customer at the center of abusiness concept. This is especially relevant with a diverse audience. You wouldn’t market to customers in a different country the same way you would market to the typical U.S. consumer, would you?  The Latino community is no different.

Culture matters to tell authentic stories and to create remarkable experiences. We have to recognize that not everyone is the same. Customers look at content through their personal lens of values, knowledge, experiences, attitudes, and beliefs.

Designing relevant marketing, communications and experiences, means creating messages and moments that your audience can identify with and say, “They are speaking to me,” “This is for me,” or “I can see myself.”  In other words, strive for cultural affinity. Why? Because Latino consumers will pay more attention, trust the brand more, and will be more likely to take action.

This means looking at each segment of the Latino population and considering their living context, values, aspirations, needs, motivations, and challenges, to design programs that achieve cultural affinity and relevancy.  According to theNielsen TV Brand EffectSurvey, advertising and programs that have cultural affinity are more impactful, as general population advertising doesn’t always resonate with Hispanic audiences.

English vs.Spanish-Language.

Think differently. It is not about English or Spanish. It is about language plus culture, context, and content. Language depends on the Latino audience segment and their language of comfort.

The Nielsen study found that Spanish-language ads perform better than English-language ads among Hispanic adults in terms of ad type, brand, and message memorability. These ads perform more than twice as well in likability. However, this does not mean doing a literal translation from English to Spanish.

It is frequently believed that English is the default language for bilingual Hispanics. However, Univision found this is one of the largest misperceptions. Bilingual Latinos speak in the language that is most appropriate to what they’re doing. For example, when looking at online videos, 74% of third-generation bilingual Latinos consume videos in Spanish.

On the other hand, younger Latinos are more comfortable speaking and consuming content in English. However, younger Latinos are watching more Spanish-language videos on streaming platforms like Netflix and YouTube, and actively seeking out and enjoying content tailored to them as Latinos. According to eMarketer,73% of third-generation Hispanics said they consume online videos “that speak to their Hispanic/Latino heritage.”  Why? Because retaining their culture is very important to them.

Language matters but is just one part of the equation. This underscores the need for brands to connect with Hispanics in a culturally-relevant way. Just because Hispanics are consuming content in English, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t incorporate Spanish into marketing campaigns, or because Latinos prefer speaking in Spanish you should do a direct translation into Spanish.

Building Online with Offline Experiences.

Customer trust is based on consumers sharing their experiences with other consumers online and offline. Word-of-mouth is the leading influencer of consumer purchase decisions in the U.S.  Notably, TV, radio, print, digital media, and offline events have a strong role to play in influencing word-of-mouth purchasing decisions.

Latinos are very active on social media, sharing posts and comments on issues specific to their communities and culture. Online and offline experiences give them an opportunity to build a relationship with the brand and ammunition to talk about it. Over 68% of Hispanic brand mentions referenced some form of online or offline marketing, compared to 60% of non-Hispanics.

The Keller Fay Groupstudy found that Hispanics are not only more likely to engage in word-of-mouth than the general public, but also more likely to pass along the information they hear to others.  What’s better than learning about a product or service than from people you know and trust?

Remember, emotions drive people to action and people tend to conform to what others are doing.  So igniting an emotion and making content more observable makes it easier to talk, share, and take action when the content and experience is cultural relevant.

Social Determinants of Health: Addressing Equity with Strategic Communications

Authored by Ⓒ Selena A. Ramkeesoon, MBA, PMP, MLS

Good health and coping with the inevitable challenges one encounters during a lifetime are a journey. Inadequate resources make a successful journey harder. At an individual level, lack of personal resources such as income and knowledge, limit an individual’s ability to follow optimal paths to health and vice versa. At a macro level, our society has a finite amount of resources—both monetary and service‐related—that realistically will not provide everything to everyone. We do not naturally think about health in terms of social factors. However, our health is significantly affected by our homes, jobs, and schools. The social determinants of health are the economic and social conditions—and their distribution among the population—influencing individual and group differences in health status.

In 2010, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services unveiled Healthy People 2020, the nation’s 10-year goals and objectives for health promotion and disease prevention. The Healthy People initiative is grounded in the principle that setting national objectives and monitoring progress can motivate action. Healthy People 2020 highlights the importance of addressing the social determinants of health by including “Create social and physical environments that promote good health for all” as one of the four overarching goals for the decade. This emphasis is shared by the World Health Organization, whose Commission on Social Determinants of Health in 2008 published the report, Closing the gap in a generation: Health equity through action on the social determinants of health.

We generally recognize five determinants of health of a population:

1. Biology and genetics (e.g., gender).
2. Individual behavior (e.g., alcohol or injection drug-use, unprotected sex, smoking).
3. Social environment (e.g., income, education level, marital status).
4. Physical environment (e.g., place of residence, population density, built environment).
5. Health services (e.g., access to and quality of care, insurance coverage).

Although we do not know the exact impact of each of these five determinants of population health, in theory, social environment, physical environment, and health services (which combined make up social determinants of health) represent 50 percent of the factors that influence population health. This leaves us subject to our choices and circumstances for safe and affordable housing, access to quality education and job training, public safety, health services, and availability of healthy foods. These factors and social patterning of health, disease, and illness often plague individuals seeking to break the vicious cycle of barriers that prohibit them from making positive lifestyle changes. These are key factors in health inequity or health disparity—a particular type of difference in health (or in the determinants of health that could be shaped by policies)—in which disadvantaged social groups systematically experience worse health or more health risks than do more advantaged social groups.

As a social marketing professional who has developed and implemented several health campaigns, I believe communicators must take into consideration and address each of the determinants when developing awareness and education programs; especially when we seek to reach and encourage action among special populations. For example, racial and ethnic minorities, the elderly, women, children, individuals with disabilities, and LGBTQ populations. It is these populations who are often heavily impacted and in the greatest need of such health messaging. Yet, it is also the same populations who are often “stuck” in a vicious cycle of barriers that prohibit them from making positive lifestyle changes.

Social determinants challenge us to take into consideration a person’s/or population’s environment and circumstances to appropriately develop messages and strategies that resonate, reaching the audience at the right time and in the right place, and that are realistic—meaning that audience circumstances truly allow them to act in the desired manner. Behavior change is difficult and individuals cannot do it themselves without support. Behavior change communication programs are designed to bring about behaviors that will improve health status and related long-term outcomes. Such programs are key to providing the support structure that help people make the necessary health changes in their lives. Effective action to address the social determinants of health requires having sufficient knowledge of the mechanisms influencing health inequities, and adopting a conceptual framework that not only clarifies the relationship between social determinants and health inequities, but also helps to identify entry points for intervention.

This article was written by Dr. Selena A. Ramkeesoon. Selena is a communications strategist in the Washington, DC metro area. Ⓒ 2019, Selena A. Ramkeesoon. All Rights Reserved.

Are you telling your story in a culturally relevant way to Hispanics?

Are you telling your story in a culturally relevant way to Hispanics?

Recently, while talking with a colleague she expressed her frustration about how Spanish translations become the default tactic to address the Latino audience. Although I can understand the efficiency justification – time and budget -a one-size-fits all strategy is a risky proposition and can produce less than expected results. Attention is waning and is more difficult to secure than ever, and the questions the Latino audience are asking- is this for me, are you talking to me? Only translating general market messages and creative into Spanish might miss the mark to connect with your Latino audience.

Spanish is important , cultural relevany is more important

Spanish is important, but cultural relevancy is more important

Spanish-language is a unifying force and the minimum denominator to show relevancy. It is easy to see, like the top of the iceberg. However, what you don’t see that is deeply rooted in culture and closely interconnected to emotions, what is underneath the water has a strong influence on how Latinos perceive most aspects of their lives. Understanding how the Latino segment interpret and perceive the world, their beliefs, attitudes, values, and social norms regarding specific situations, can be the difference between connecting and engaging with the Hispanic audience or getting lost in translation. According to Felipe Korzenny, professor of Advertising and Integrated Marketing and Management Communication at Florida State University (FSU), “it is the subjectivity of the interpretation of cultural values that makes one portrayal relevant to one group and not to another”. Incorporating a cultural perspective and nuance adds intimacy to the communication strategy.

Incorporate cultural nuances into the message and creative to achieve higher memorability and likeability

According to a Nielsen Brand Effect study that analyzed ROI Spanish-language TV campaigns effectiveness compared to their English-language General Market TV ads, found that original Spanish content that is culturally tailored to the U.S. Hispanic market outperform ads that are simply translated into Spanish.

So how can you achieve stronger cultural relevancy? The following 3 questions can help you start the conversation:

  • Is there a universal consumer insight we can leverage or a different understanding that will be more relevant and effective?
  • What is the right motivational appeal to emotionally engage Hispanics?
  • What are the cultural elements and identification (seen and unseen) that needs to be incorporated?

Spanish language is a unifying factor and effective in reaching Latino audiences. However don’t diminish the importance of developing original content, creating a narrative storyline, and making it relatable with familiar and real world settings. Incorporating the cultural perspective should not be lost on any Latino segment. Knowing how a priority group feels about life, health, the future, love, death, children, career, art, sex, etc, and how to capture the unseen cultural subtleties, empowers you to evoke emotions and tell your story in a cultural relevant way.

Hispanic, Brand, word of mouth, marketing

Hispanic conversations are essential to brand preference

Word of mouth marketing drives 13% of consumer sales and amplifies the effect of paid media by 15% according to the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA). What is not a surprise is the fact that Hispanic consumers are leading in brand word of mouth (WOM) conversations.  Hispanics are social by nature and by culture. For Hispanics its about the “we” and not the “I”.  Connecting with friends and family is a way to keep up with brands and current events, according to a recent study by Latina Media Ventures.

Hispanics place a really high value on community. Connecting to stay in touch, to be in the know,  and to share stories is an extension of that value. Conversation sometime referred as “el chime” that takes place over the phone, via text, online, or in-person among family, friends and the rest of the social network.

Why is this important?

Hispanics turn to family and friends for information and make decisions as a group.  According to SMG Multicultural, 57% said family and friends are the primary source of information, while 60% are influenced by their partners and 50% from their children when making decisions.  This correlates with a WOMMA study of English- and Spanish-speaking Hispanics that found that Spanish-speaking Hispanics word of mouth is highly actionable. It is likely to contain a buy or try recommendation, be passed along or lead to purchase.

Every day in the U.S. Hispanics generate 483 million brand impression via WOM and 241.5 million come are from Hispanic millennials ages 18 to 34 according to Keller Fay Group. Looking at in another way,  21% of the 2.3 billion WOM impression each day are from Hispanic conversations.  According to WOMMA study,  Hispanics engage in 110 brand conversations per week vs. 72 for the total public – 53% more word of mouth than the total public. In addition, Spanish-speaking Hispanic consumers amplify advertising  more in brand conversations than the total public (40% vs 25%) . That is a significant opportunity if you consider the following:

  • Conversations increases marketing effectiveness up to 54%, and a 10% increase in conversations resulted in a sales lift of up to 1.5% according to marketing-analytics expert MarketShare.
  • Hispanics will constitute 119 million people or 28.6% of U.S. population by 2060 and will have $1.7 trillion buying power by 2017 according to Statista.
  • Spanish-dominant are talking about 30-40 more brands per week than non-Hispanics
  • Hispanic millennials are engaging in nearly 20% more WOM than their non-Hispanic millennial counterparts.

How do you ignite the conversation? 

Give them something to talk about: Find your brand purpose and tell your story. Latinos support brands that support community causes, helps them drive their aspirations, provide a great experience, and become part of their community. Marketers should ask:

  • How does my product/brand fits into my audience life?
  • How is it helping them accomplish their goals?

Think mobile: Hispanic consumers are not only the fastest-growing demographic in the U.S., they’re also trendsetters in digital, leading the growth in device ownership and online usage. According to Nielsen, nearly three out of four Hispanics (72%) already owned smartphones, 95% of Hispanic smartphone owners used social sites and apps, and make up a growing share of mobile shoppers accounting for one in eight U.S. consumers who use their smartphones and tablets to shop.

Engage offline:  Offline events give you a great opportunity to create an experience, get Latinos together, and ignite a conversation that can be amplify online. Think passion points – music, sports, food, movies and community.  According to WOMMA, offline worth of mouth had a more significant impact on buying outcomes than social media.

Next time your are thinking about capture the hearts and minds of the Latino consumer, ask what would I like them to say about me.

Social Context: Key to Latino Marketing

Marketing communication plans are crucial to reaching potential Latino consumers and a well-planned advertising/promotions campaign could result in positive ROI. However, marketing to Latinos should go beyond marketing communications. The marketing plan should look at all moments of truths, from products to services, to be designed, created or adapted for cultural relevancy and social context experience.

From a marketing perspective, it makes a big difference whether Latinos are new immigrants or more acculturated and whether they in live in more established areas such as Los Angeles or high-growing Latino markets such as Baltimore. Their marketing maturity, media consumption, and purchasing patterns differ considerably

Although Latinos in general share the same cultural values—community orientation, authority, religion, respect, and family— these values vary from country to country and within a county between rural and urban centers. These values are passed from generation to generation but are weakening as the younger Latino generations are integrated into mainstream America.

Furthermore, the social context and ethnic networks where Latino live influence the adaptation of new values, beliefs, attitudes, feelings, and needs regarding different products and services. External factors, such as geographic region, immigrant acceptance, and labor markets increase the reliance on personal networks and brand loyalty.

Latinos are a collective culture – a culture that likes to share and engage with immediate family, extended family, friends and business and brands. Each product or service experience builds credibility, trust and loyalty towards the company or brand. If the experience is positive, the brand or product becomes an integral part of their lives. On the other hand, if it is negative, it becomes a topic to share among family and friends.

Therefore, a company that takes into consideration all these different factors understanding the differences in values and beliefs between new immigrants and more acculturated Latinos, their social context, and engagement preferences provides a window of how to better develop communications, products and service experiences to reach this diverse community.