If you’re looking for marketing techniques to create long-term brand loyalty or launch your company as the preferred brand in a competitive environment, you’ll want to use “social marketing” techniques that have proven to create long-term behavioral change. The terms “social media” and “social marketing” are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. Social marketing is a marketing strategy, while social media is a marketing channel or tactic. Social media is used in a social marketing campaign to engage a target audience in making behavioral changes and reaching the goals of the social marketing campaign.

The Differences Between Social Media and Social Marketing

Social media is a communications channel. The most popular channels are Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Twitter. These channels are used to promote a brand through ongoing engagement and online conversations. It’s a common tactic used by marketers – and can also be used to help execute social marketing campaigns. Social media is a tool – one that requires a strategy behind it to be used effectively. That’s where social marketing comes in.

Social marketing is also referred to as behavior change marketing because its goal is to change or maintain a person’s behavior for the benefit of the individual or community as a whole. Most people remember the Crying Indian ad in the 1970s that was used for the Keep America Beautiful social marketing campaign. That campaign used television, billboards, and the potential for a ticket for tossing out litter on the highways as an intervention to change behavior. Another example of social marketing is the Stop Smoking campaigns that started in the 1990s. These campaigns were effective in showing the damage that smoking can do to your body and successfully changed behaviors of millions of people, by using TV and print ads to show photos and videos of unhealthy long-time smokers. Today, social marketing campaigns use a variety of TV, print and social media channels to communicate their behavioral change messages.

Using Social Marketing Techniques

If you are looking to change the behavior of your target audience to purchase your product, service, become a fan, or promote your organization, you can utilize social science that is the essence of social marketing. A successful social marketing campaign will provide you a deeper understanding of your target audiences behavior, demographics, and psychographics, which will allow you to hone your message to reach your target’s psyche and create a platform for long-term success.

Social marketing campaigns are organized into four stages: (1) understanding the target audience including the barriers to change (or make a decision) and the motivations that can encourage behavior change; (2) message development and testing; (3) outreach and interventions; and (4) evaluation.

After phase 1, personas are developed to simulate the various members of your target audience. These personas are critical to the development of your communications platforms and messaging. The next step is to create and test messaging to resonate with the target audiences. In this phase, you should use in-person or digital focus groups to test your messages with real people. When creating the messaging you have to consider all the triggers that are needed for someone to make a change, which includes the pleasure/pain points people go through when trying to make the desired change. The easiest technique to use is to develop messaging that frames the desired change as fun, easy and popular. Research in human psychology shows that people are more likely to adopt behaviors that they perceive to be fun (i.e. beneficial to them – what’s in it for me?), easy to accomplish (break it down into smaller steps) and popular (other people are doing it too).

Once the messaging has been tested and approved, it’s time to develop your marketing communications plan and define what channels will reach your target audiences most cost-effectively.

The last step in any marketing campaign is an evaluation. Ultimately, you will evaluate overall performance (i.e. how many people took the desired action) after the campaign ends, but you should also be A/B testing your messaging and channels throughout the duration. This real-time monitoring will allow you to pivot your message and tactical platforms quickly to achieve your desired results.

If you are looking for a deeper relationship with your target audiences and want to use systemic behavioral change techniques to build market share for your brand, contact me at rmarston@engagemarketing.bizto get started!


You’ve invested valuable time and money to develop and create your brand message, voice, visual implementation and solidify your “Why.”  And now you’re considering expanding your brand.  But are you ready and how do you make sure your brand stays true to its core values when it “moves away from home?”  Here are four important steps to consider when you’re planning to introduce your brand to new markets.

Stay True

Your brand story is your story; your voice is your voice; and, your purpose is your purpose. When you’re ready to expand – do not waver from the foundation you’ve built. It’s the brand foundation that will provide support, integrity, and guidance in your endeavor to build and replicate your brand successfully without dilution.

Know Where You’re Going

With expansion on the horizon, you must know where you’re going and where you’re growing.  Whether your expansion is geographical, product offering or both, do your research.  What does the market place look like? How does your offering measure-up or fit into the competitive set?  Does the market have a need for your offering or a desire wanting to be met? (There is a difference!) Whatever the research tells you, listen to it and approach your growth with that knowledge in hand and your brand positioning strong.

Talk to Your Audience

Get to know your target market demographically as well as psychographically.  Learn what is important to them socially, culturally and economically.  This deeper understanding of your audience will provide the ability to connect with them in a way that feels familiar.  Your brand position and platform does not change; however, sharing it in a way that resonates with them on an emotional level will provide the opportunity to grow an audience of brand advocates.

Establish Roots

Once your brand expands into its new market place, get involved. Establish and grow relationships with the community, influencers, potential partner brands, and like-minded businesses.  Your new brand location should feel just at home just as much as it does where it was originally established and with the same dedication to brand position, values, and voice.


A few years ago the NAHB and MetLife Mature Market Institute conducted a comprehensive study dedicated specifically to analyze where 55+ households live, the characteristics of their homes, communities, where they moved to and from, as well as other key demographic information.

The key findings of the study are quite interesting and are reminders that knowing what others, in this case, the 55+/AQ demographic, should not solely be based on historical behavior, if at all.  We are living longer. We are having children later in life. We are getting married more than once and having kids with each.  To put it plainly, the Baby Boomers of today are not like the Age Qualified for our parent’s era nor our grandparents

Did you know?

  • The majority of 55+ households do not live in age-qualified (i.e., age-restricted) or other communities occupied mostly by 55+ households.
  • Senior-related housing accounts for 8% for buyers 53 to 62 years old
  • One in five buyers aged 53 to 62 purchased a multi-generational home.
  • The share of households age 55+ is projected to grow annually, and to account for nearly 45% of all U.S. households by the year 2020.
  • Buyers 53 to 71 (Baby Boomers) made up the second largest generational group of home buyers at 32 percent.
  • The desire to be close to family and friends is often a driver for the 55+ households.
  • The share of 55+ single-family customers who work at home continues to rise and will increase the demand for office space inside the home.
  • Convenience to a job (46 percent), quality of school districts (33 percent), and distance to schools (31 percent) were a few of the most important factors to buyers 38 to 52 years. (Important to know because of the multi-generational living and aging-in-place homeowners)

Links to 55+/Age Qualified resources used:

Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends Report (NAR)

Housing Trends Update for the 55+ Market


In today’s 24/7, 365 worlds of instant and constant information, we are all being barraged with things to read, watch, listen to, and share. The amount of content that is being served up on a daily basis is overwhelming and many brands are getting lost in the noise.

The most successful brands understand the importance of telling their audience a story – something that engages, inspires, and motivates them to do something, buy something, make a choice, and become a loyal fan.

Stories have been part of humanity since the beginning of time. From the caveman days with stick men on walls to the use of hieroglyphs by the Egyptians, humans have been telling each other stories because it’s in our nature to tell them and listen to them, as well.

In today’s noisy, techy, automated world, storytelling is not only still relevant, but it’s also imperative. In the digital age, we are more connected than before, yet many of us feel disconnected. Without stories we can connect with, a big part of the beauty in being a human gets lost.

As natural storytellers, we may forget names and faces, or what we learned in a class. But a good story? We don’t forget it. Our life is filled with stories that connect us back to good, and bad, times in our lives. These stories create feelings, emotions, and memories that connect us to certain key points in our lives. Many of these stories connect to companies and/or brands. We remember our first Apple or Dell computer, the first time we ate at Chick-fil-A or McDonald’s, and the first Toyota or Mercedes we drove. All of those brands tell stories that connect with our emotions, aspirations, and desires for our lives.

Yet, somewhere along the digital highway, we have lost the art of storytelling. Many companies think that they simply have to have a website, a CRM platform, lots of content online, and a strong social media presence. But, without a compelling story weaving through all of these channels, the brand appears shallow, disconnected, and not authentic. The art of developing and maintaining a consistent story is a commitment that requires a brand’s attention every day of the year.

If you doubt the importance of a story, think of how differently you feel about purchasing an Apple Computer vs a Dell or an HP. Or, think of the loyalty people have to Coke vs Pepsi, Nike vs Reebok, Lexus vs BMW. The emotional connections that these brands have created through their consistent storytelling are what separates them from their competitors. They’ve created compelling, aspirational, and emotional stories that align with their customers’ worldviews, philosophies, and opinions. They know the importance of their story, how it’s told, and who is going to align themselves with their brand.

As you’re developing your marketing plan, don’t forget that your story is the most important element. But, remember, it doesn’t start and end with marketing. The story must be woven through the entire brand experience. From the initial interaction – online or in person – throughout the entire buying lifecycle, and beyond. The story is the game changer. It’s the reason that your customers will be inspired to purchase from you, tell others about you, and become raving fans. So, what’s your story?  And how are you telling it?


Since the onslaught of digital, you can barely look in the direction of a marketing professional or publication without being hit with a lot of hype about how awesome digital marketing is and how it is really the only “strategy” you need. Marketers continue to invest heavily in digital, at the expense of ignoring basic marketing fundamentals, and that is a huge mistake.

Digital marketing is a channel, like direct mail, print advertising, billboards, door hangers, events, social media, door to door, and other channels marketing professionals use to meet their target audiences where they are most receptive. Digital marketing is NOT a strategy, and if you rely on digital to be the only way you reach your customers, you are ignoring the tried and true marketing principal of media neutrality. That is, no channels should be prioritized before the appropriate market research, brand platform development and a marketing strategy have been formulated. To be digitally led is to put the tactical cart before the strategic horse.

What’s more concerning, is the value of digital channels has been questionable at best. In the past few years, click through rates have fallen (0.06 percent), fraud is rampant, and ad blocking is on the rise. Facebook was recently found to be overstating some of its metrics by 80%. In addition, a 2016 study by the AMA showed that more than 88% of its marketing executives couldn’t prove any ROI of their social media marketing.

It’s inevitable that digital channels will continue to be used in brand building and direct response marketing campaigns, given their continual presence in our daily lives. But, we should remember that they are just channels like any other, and will not be successful in isolation.

As the legendary advertising man, Bill Bernbach, once said: “It took millions of years for man’s instincts to develop. It will take millions more for them to even vary. A communicator must be concerned with unchanging man.”