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What It Is?

Interventions are methods used to influence, facilitate or promote behavior change (e.g., holding training classes to help seniors start their own walking clubs, developing a Website to promote drug-free activities to youth, expanding clinic hours to improve working mothers' access to HIV testing).

How It Is Done?

Select members and assign roles for your planning team.

  • Assemble the strongest planning team you can. In addition to representatives of the groups you want to reach, it should include members whose combined experience ensures that the necessary technical, managerial, and creative contributions will be made.
  • Be sure your team continues to include members of your target audience—they know best what will and won't work. The perspective of the local service providers who will deliver the interventions should also be represented.

Write specific, measurable objectives for each intervention activity.

  • Outcome objectives specify the kind and amount of change you expect to achieve for a specific population within a given time frame for each intervention. Remember, behavior change takes a long time.
  • Begin with an outcome objective that quantifies the desired behavior change. Then estimate the amount of change that would be necessary in each target segment thinks, feels, knows, intends, and does to reach the ultimate behavioral objective.
  • For the outcome and each of its determinants, specify:
    • Who specifically will be affected?
    • What will change?
    • How much change will occur?
    • By when?
  • Make sure your outcome objectives are "SMART."
    • Specific
    • Measurable
    • Achievable
    • Relevant
    • Time-specific

Write a program plan, including timeline and budget, for each intervention

  • The program plan should include:
    • specific activities
    • process objectives
    • a timeline
    • a detailed budget
  • Social Marketing interventions tend to take four forms, reflecting the strategy used to achieve the desired outcomes:
  1. Service interventions create or modify services, tests, or treatments to improve health. For example, you might co-locate barber shops and blood-pressure screening clinic services for African-American men.
  2. Product interventions create or modify a product that promotes health. For example, you repackage a nicotine replacement device so that it can be distributed through vending machines at bars.
  3. Policy interventions lead to regulatory, legislative, or organizational rulings that supports improvements in the public's health. For example, your coalition might be successful in advocating for city funding for bike lanes.
  4. Communication interventions inform and influence individual and community decisions about behavior that enhances health. For example, a radio soap opera might persuade women to discuss condoms with male sex partners

Describe the benefits you will offer

  • Social marketing—like commercial marketing—is based on the principle of exchange, the idea that people will bear certain costs to get something of value in return.
  • You want to offer your audience an exchange that:
    • is easy and irresistible to accept
    • maximizes the benefits they will get for adopting a behavior
    • minimizes any barriers that might deter them


Working backward from your outcome objectives, develop a timeline that covers all phases of each intervention. Include key deadlines, milestones. The timeline is central to your program plan. Include launch schedules into your timeline as well. Select or create a graphic that is easy for all partners to understand and makes sense for your goals and objectives. A Gantt chart is one way to display your timeline.


Budgets should be "built," on the basis of the activities and materials necessary for the interventions. Keep your objectives in mind as you decided whether the costs of specific activities are justified. If necessary, build your budget so that it tracks separate funding streams. Your budget should specify resources including:

  • Select interventions that:
    • donated products and services
    • volunteer time
    • in-kind contributions
    • matching contributions

Your budget should cover all the costs or expenses of the intervention activities. The expense portion of budgets has two primary sections:

  • direct costs – expenses directly related to your project or activity
    • personnel costs
    • non-personnel direct costs
  • indirect costs – expenses that don't directly relate to your project or activity

Budget narratives or justifications may be required to describe costs, especially any line items that might be perceived as unusual or higher than costs for similar items or services from other sources.

Work with your partners to plan budgets and timelines. Agreement on these issues will solidify a common understanding of program priorities to help ensure that everyone works towards common goals. Take into account any legal or ethical requirements that require or restrict openness in records.

Tools and Templates

Tools and Templates

  • Page last reviewed: August 9, 2010
  • Page last updated: August 9, 2010
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