If you run a nonprofit, you know that marketing is essential to your mission. To many nonprofit managers, marketing equals fundraising and nothing more. But your organization exists for more than just bringing in donations. By using social marketing methods, you can boost the effectiveness of programs and activities that are the reason your organization exists in the first place—to make a difference.

Social marketing uses the same tools and techniques of commercial marketing, but its purpose is to bring about positive health and social change. Rather than focusing on sales or funds raised as the ultimate outcome, social marketing's bottom line is behavior change. Did you increase the number of people getting screened for prostate cancer? Do people now put their soda cans and plastic bottles in the recycling bin rather than the garbage can? Have youth become more active and likely to exercise regularly?

Social marketing as described here is distinct from the more recent usage of the term by bloggers and social network marketers to label peer-to-peer or consumer-generated media. The field of social marketing has been around for over a quarter of a century, used to address issues around the world, including family planning, HIV/AIDS, obesity, pollution, breast cancer screening, cholesterol, tobacco prevention, civic involvement and much more.

When social marketers develop a program strategy, they have to consider the same elements of the marketing mix as commercial marketers. However, the social marketing mix has to be adjusted somewhat to take into account the unique nature of the types of products and environments with which they work.

What does the social marketing mix look like, and how is it different from the Four Ps that commercial marketers use?

1. Product

The social marketing product is not usually a tangible item, though it can be (e.g., condoms). Generally, social marketers are trying to sell a particular behavior. While you may be promoting a life-saving or life-improving practice, quite often social marketing behaviors are things that people don't particularly want to do—eat more fiber, conserve water, exercise, get a colonoscopy. To address this issue, use the same effective tools as commercial marketing to promote the product's benefits based on the target audience's core values to show them how using the product helps them become the person they want to be.

2. Price

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Nedra Kline Weinreich is the president and founder of the social marketing firm Weinreich Communications (www.social-marketing.com) and the author of Hands-On Social Marketing: A Step-by-Step Guide. Reach her at weinreich@social-marketing.com.