*With apologies to Dostoevsky.
Thinking back to last Monday, I was sitting in my office at home, looking out at the snow in my woods. (Today is sunny and in the 70s.) I was sitting here, reflecting on how very much the covering of snow changes everything. Changes the way the trees look. Changes the way I feel. Changes what I want to do.
Then I began thinking, how can we make our behavior change efforts to be like the snow?! In the same way that a layer of snow changes a bare (to some, unattractive) tree--and changes my feelings and thoughts about what I want to do, what can we do to our behavioral goals so that they look more attractive, inviting, desirable, for our audiences? I believe that social marketing gives us a way to do this. When I finally fell in love with social marketing, it was because it gave me a new way of seeing things (through the lenses of exchange, product, price, place and promotion). It caused me to ask different questions (What are the barriers that stand in the way of behaviors after people get all the good information I provide? What facilitates behavior change?) It gave me a new way to think about behavior change (How can I make this "fun, easy and popular" for my audience to do?) It provided me with strategies to cover my "bare" behavior change efforts with snow!
The Importance of Thinking and Asking Questions. I believe the mindset we bring to problem solving can have a profound impact on the strategies we develop. I believe that the questions we ask about the sources of, and remedies for, a problem can affect the quality and success of our responses to that problem. Sometimes people express concern that social marketing sure seems like a lot to do. I like to tell them that social marketing is as much about the way we think, as it is about doing something! I like to tell them that social marketing is as simple as asking a new set of questions!
So, here are some of the new ways to think about problems, which I discovered :
I. Think behavior change (not just awareness and education)
Know your audiences--their fears, aspirations, motivations, values, hopes, dreams
Think benefits and costs of behavior
Think when the right place and time is to interact with your audiences
Think when they are in the right frame of mind to attend to your issue of interest
II.a There are external factors that motivate behavior:
Actual consequences (of trying a behavior)
Cultural beliefs and values
II.b There are internal factors that motivate behavior:
Knowledge and beliefs
Perceived consequences (of trying a behavior)
Self efficacy (I"ve got what it takes to do this)
(II.a & b: NIMH Theorists' Consensus Conference, http://tinyurl.com/cqg7to)
II. For any behavior X,
A. What are the things that make it easier to do X? What are the things that
make it harder?
B. What are the good things that happen, when you do X? What are the bad
C. Who would approve of your doing X? Who would disapprove?
(Simplified Elicitation Methodology, http://tinyurl.com/bts4oz)
My challenge to you, dear reader, is to ask yourself: How can I make the behavior change I am working on like snow on the trees? Can I ask other questions, than I usually do? Can I think about things in a different way? Let me know what you come up with!