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January 5, 2017
The Best Approach to Social Causes Advertising
Raising awareness about prescription drug abuse, domestic violence, homelessness, teenage drinking, and other types of social issues is the first step in changing people’s negative behavior. Advertising – a proven awareness-building technique – is being utilized increasingly to help social causes make a drastic impact on society. However, before you execute a social marketing campaign that’s designed to modify individuals’ actions in order to benefit society as a whole, there are a few key things to keep in mind. 
1. Stick to One Primary Goal
It’s common with social issues marketing that budgets are tight and there many objectives you would like to achieve. Try not to set the bar too high. Prioritize one (maybe two) of the most important goals and design a promotional plan around that. This way your budget will go farther to achieve the most important objective and won’t be spread too thin across multiple initiatives.
2. Aim at a Single Target Audience
If you can focus on a very niche audience to spread the important message, you will have more impact. In the social causes arena, there are often many different types of people performing or being impacted by the negative behaviors (drug overdose, drunk driving, teenage smoking, domestic abuse, etc.). It is extremely difficult to produce one ad that is meaningful to a variety of audiences. Therefore, it’s best to decide on a single target and create marketing messages that speak directly to them.
3. Keep the Message Simple
Now that you’ve decided on one goal and a primary audience, it’s imperative that you don’t over-complicate the message. A good ad gets your attention, tells a relevant story, and does so simply and quickly. Be careful not to cram in all the details of your important social issue into a 30-second commercial; make the message direct and keep it concise. You can use your website and/or collateral materials to pour on the details.
We realize it’s difficult to execute on these three items especially when you are literally trying to change the world. But if you want to make a real impact, you need to stick to one goal, aim at a single target and keep the message simple. Check out some examples of Esparza social cause marketing here.

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Emily K. Howarda marketing strategist since 1997, developed her skills at some of the country’s top marketing firms including DDB Worldwide, while working on brands like American Airlines, Pepsi, Bloomberg and Merck. Now as Vice President of Esparza, Emily’s integrated communications approach helps clients find order in marketing chaos. She’d love to hear from you and can be found on LinkedIn or @ekhoward on Twitter.
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