Strategic social marketing in Canada: ten phases to planning and implementing cancer prevention and cancer screening campaigns
Social marketing has gained prominence among researchers and practitioners working in social issues. Campaigns labelled as social marketing are implemented worldwide by governments, nonprofit organizations, and private industry. However, there is evidence that the concepts and processes associated with these campaigns are misunderstood and not consistently applied. This article describes social marketing benchmark criteria and follows with an overview of a strategic process for social marketing, specifically: planning, research, campaign development, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation. The main focus is the social marketing development process undertaken by the Alberta Health Services to plan and implement cancer prevention and cancer screening campaigns. Unique to this process is an internationally recognized panel of social marketing experts to review and provide consultation. Improvements in planning and implementing campaigns are outlined, including stakeholder engagement, use of audience-centred strategies, and endorsement of campaigns by management. The primary outcome of bringing together a clear and organized social marketing tool for cancer prevention and cancer screening in Alberta is the development, implementation, and evaluation of campaigns that follow a systematic best-practice process. The learnings from this process will have important implications provincially in Alberta, nationally in Canada, and worldwide for the advancement of the social marketing discipline.