Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to navigation Skip directly to page options Skip directly to site content

Market Strategy

What It Is?

A market strategy is a plan of action for your entire social marketing program. Market strategy encompasses the specific target audience segment(s), the specific desired behavior change goal, the benefits you will offer, and the interventions that will influence or support behavior change.

How It Is Done?

Select your target audience segment(s).

  • Make a list of the primary audience segments you could target. Define each segment in terms of:
    • demographics (e.g., age and race/ethnicity
    • behavioral determinants that distinguished "doers" from "non-doers" of your health behavior
  • For each of the potential segments listed, pull the following information from your research findings:
    • aspirations
    • benefits of the target behavior valued
    • competitive behaviors practiced
    • information channels used
    • level of readiness to change
  • Then go back down the list and highlight the segments that have:
    • perceived benefits that are easy to build into an exchange
    • competing behaviors against which you can "win"
    • the largest number of people reachable at the smallest cost
    • the greatest readiness to change
  • Decide whether to allocate some or all of your limited program resources to targeting secondary audience segments. These are groups that may influence your primary target audience.

Define current and desired behaviors for each audience segment.

  • Identify the behavior that each audience segment finalist is currently doing. To specify the behavior you want them to do, ask yourself:
    • What behavior could be changed in the short-run?
    • Is it likely to change with a little more incentive?
    • If audience members take the desired action, will it make a tangible difference in achieving my overall program goal?

Prioritize audience/behavior pairs

  • To narrow your list down to the final priorities, consider the following factors for each audience/behavior pair
    • Risk
    • Impact
    • Behavioral Feasibility
    • Resource Feasibility
    • Political Feasibility

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
  • Instead of asking "What does the target audience NEED (for their health)?" ask, "What does the target audience WANT?"
  • Pay attention to what audience members say they value the most, and you'll be on your way to providing a solid exchange. Enhance the exchange with each program activity by continually building in more benefits that are obvious to and valued by the audience.


Audience Member gives:



Momentary discomfort

Audience Member gets:

An immunization

Freedom from illness in the future

Freedom to travel

Ability to go to school


Write your behavior change goal(s)

  • Rewrite each audience segment/behavior couplet in the form of a benefit exchange statement that spells out the exchange. This condensed format makes it to easier to explain the purpose of your program to stakeholders and partners

For example

Who? (Specific audience segment)

Will do what?
(Specific behavior)

Under What Conditions?
(When and Where)

In exchange for?

Parents of eligible uninsured children

Will call the toll-free number to apply for coverage for their children under the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP)

At a time and location that is convenient for them

In exchange for the peace of mind that comes with being a good parent, providing for their children's needs, and ensuring their families' financial security.


Select the intervention(s) you will develop for your program (see Interventions section)

  • Select interventions that:
    • can be accomplished within your program's resources
    • provide the "wants" of each priority target audience segment
    • reach most of the members of the priority segments
    • combine to have the potential to bring about behavior change
  • Overcoming the barriers to performing a behavior and offering an exchange that will seem worthwhile to the target audience requires using all 4 P's of marketing:
    • Product – A tangible object or service that can support or facilitate behavior change. Product examples include in-home blood pressure monitoring kits, improved HIV tests, journals to plan and track food intake, cessation counseling.
    • Price – List out the "price" or barriers for your audience segment to carry out the desired behavior and then brainstorm interventions to diminish those barriers. For example, instituting a walking club program at the workplace for those who cite lack of support and lack of time as barriers to regular exercise.
    • Place – Think about where and when the audience will perform the behavior or access the new or adapted product/service. How can you make it convenient and pleasant (even more so than the competing behavior)? Examples include placing condom vending machines in bar restrooms.
    • Promotion – Use your market research to determine the communication channels and activities that will best reach your audience to promote the benefits of the desired behavior. What advertising or public relations media do they pay attention to (e.g., radio, newspaper, postcard racks)? What special promotional items would they use (e.g., water bottles, refrigerator magnets, notepads)?
  • Interventions can focus on:
    • changing policy through advocacy and community mobilization to reduce barriers to service
    • providing or improving a service
    • developing or adapting a product
    • communication about facts and benefits
    • some combination of the above
  • The object is to find interventions that make the behavior "fun, easy and popular" for members of the target audience.
  • When brainstorming and selecting interventions, remember that effective interventions:
    • lower barriers the audience faces in performing the desired behavio
    • increase barriers the audience faces in performing competing behavior(s
    • offer valued benefits in exchange for performing the behavior

Write the goal for each intervention

  • For each intervention you selected, write a goal that sums up its role in impacting behavioral determinants.
  • Try to go further and explain how each intervention is expected to work to support or influence the audience to adopt the new behavior.
    • For example, the goal of a peer-led workshop with female college students could be to lower the barriers of fear and lack of skill in negotiating condom use with male sex partners. That goal could be achieved by providing support, practice with various scenarios and modeling.
  • Review your selected interventions and their associated goals as a group. Do the interventions in the mix:
    • lower the barriers to change that your audience segment faces?
    • offer the benefits that you have identified for the audience segment?
    • support one another to offer what the audience wants?
    • use resources effectively and avoid unproductive duplication?
    • stay within your budget?
  • After you are satisfied that your mix of selected interventions is feasible to mount and will result in achieving the overall behavioral goal for your audience segment, your strategy is complete.

Tools and Templates

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