How a socially motivated gymnastics project is transforming lives

The British Gymnastics Association – a social marketing intervention project

The British Gymnastics Association promotes, encourages and facilitates gymnastic activities for everyone, irrespective of their personal or social circumstances.

‘Love to Move’ – dementia-friendly

Most recently the BGA has launched their ‘Love to Move’ social marketing campaign, aimed at a very different kind of target group – those with dementia and other cognitive disorders.

Transforming lives and giving older people increased independence

Love to Move is refreshingly different. 

Recognising that dementia is progressive, and that exercise is hugely important to the condition, Love to Move is a seated gymnastics programme that has the power to transform thousands of lives, while being incredible fun.

It’s ultimately designed to keep dementia sufferers mobile, healthy and to give back a bit of normality and independence.

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Social marketing – helping the NHS to save money

A shift away from responsive treatment, in favour of preventive measures

Whatever your opinion is on the state of the NHS, you have to admit, in the wake of increasing pressures, they do cope – just about!

Surely anything that attempts ease the health burden, and the escalating costs associated with it, has to be welcomed.

Can social marketing help?

Social marketing is a technique that is part of the NHS’s wider healthcare strategy. It’s designed to tackle a range of health behaviours at an early stage, before it develops into a health problem that needs costly and sometimes unavoidable treatment.

Why? By encouraging people to be more aware of how their existing health behaviour can influence their future state of health and sense of wellbeing, the NHS and its healthcare partners hope to make better use of available resources, funding and manpower.

Social marketing campaigns are designed to get people to think about their health and lifestyle habits, and then to seriously consider changing their existing behaviour for the better. But it goes one step beyond merely increasing awareness, it also encourages, inspires and motivates people to want to change, and then sustains that over time.

For example, for someone struggling with a mental health issue, a targeted social marketing campaign might encourage that person to visit useful websites, take part in webinars, talk to people, attend drop in centres, use anti-stress techniques etc, all aligned to their specific health requirements. And all designed to confront (and ease) the underlying problem.

Social improvements are being secured

By targeting individuals, communities and groups of people, with the same health issues, from smoking, to drug taking, alcohol abuse, heart conditions, obesity etc, there is huge potential for social and health improvement – and better use of NHS resources.

But it’s not just a question of the NHS needing to change. The bigger issue surely then is: we all need to change our health behaviours to assist the NHS, so it can provide healthcare to the most needy. And if a social marketing agency can help make that happen, then maybe they deserve recognition.

Preventive healthcare – could this be the future?

Preventive healthcare is at the top of the NHS’s agenda

There is a general consensus throughout the NHS that if it’s to move forward in future years, they have to find bold and imaginative ways of focusing on health prevention. The idea behind this is that they want to motivate people in specific health bands, or ‘at risk’ groups, to take full control of their health before it becomes problematic – for them and the healthcare system.

Poor health habits and lifestyle have consequences down the line

We live in a society struggling to cope. The pressures of everyday living and work have led to more people turning to drugs, drink, poor diet, and bad habits, all of which have health consequences further down the line. A lifestyle dominated by poor lifestyle choices, will eventually lead to health complications in later life, if these decisions are not challenged or influenced.

The NHS believes that early intervention is key to solving health problems

Highlighting health risks and tackling behaviours at an early stage, is the best way of redressing serious health problems. This is why the healthcare sector has been championing social marketing interventions over the past decade.

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What is social marketing really capable of?

Social marketing – driving behaviour change in healthcare The way we live, how we live, and the stresses that we face are quite different to those of, say, people living in the 1940s. While you could argue that after the war, life was extremely stressful in Britain, as we and other countries tried to get back to some form of normality, today’s lifestyle pressures are also great. We as a society, lead very stressful lives. Some would argue that technology is partly to blame for this. Certainly, the office never closes – mobile technology has led to that. But it has made new things possible too, so that we can communicate and connect with people across the globe.

Managing our high intensity lives

Unfortunately, the intensity of our lives has brought on a range of new, threatening health conditions.

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Socially responsible healthcare marketing

Changing the way people behave

Healthcare marketing companies, specialising in social marketing campaigns, are working with the NHS and other primary care health providers, to tackle behavioural issues, leading to positive health outcomes.

Social marketing aims to redress the balance of health inequalities. It gets alongside people, understands why they do what they do, how they live, why they live like that, and then attempts to positively influence their health habits.

A well thought out, conceived and delivered social marketing campaign can change lives, change behaviours and create wider social harmony.

Contributing to positive health outcomes

But it’s the ability of social marketing to contribute to positive health outcomes that has caught the imagination of the NHS and other health providers.

For almost a decade the NHS has been using social marketing as a technique to help deliver its wider healthcare strategy.

Believing it can penetrate the heart of a number of health and social issues at grass roots levels, its proven to be a very effective way of driving change.

Isn’t social marketing just another label?

Absolutely not and it doesn’t resemble traditional marketing campaigns. The success of a social marketing campaign is not defined by size of profit, but by the number of behaviours it changes – or positive health outcomes it achieves.

Reaching out and connecting

The overriding success of social marketing very much depends on the purpose of the campaign, and its ability to make a personal connection with people in target groups. If they feel that the message is relevant to them, then they are more likely to respond and change.

How you make that connection involves use of a number of sophisticated marketing tools – from digital technology, through to automated marekting, social media, online blogs and YouTube films demonstrating practical advice.

Social marketing is an extremely powerful framework – it’s a socially responsible way of marketing that continues to impress and evolve as ideas and thinking move on.

The rise of social marketing campaigns across the healthcare sector

foDisfunctional communities

While most of us try to stay fit and healthy as we go about our daily lives, the way we all live has changed – the hours we put in, the type of social activities that we enjoy, how we communicate, and even the way we get from A to B, have all dramatically altered over the past 10 years.

The fact is, most ordinary people don’t have the time (or energy), to properly manage their health. That leads to bad habits, poor lifestyle choices and health inequalities.

Social marketing campaigns – a positive response

Social marketing agencies specilaise in delivering dynamic social marketing campaigns that create behaviour change in people perceived to be at risk. This leads to positive social repercussions and individual health improvements and outcomes.

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Social marketing – tackling some of UK’s toughest healthcare issues

The healthcare industry is facing some tough issues. With more people relying on the NHS to deliver professional health services on a daily basis, it has reached breaking point.

The number of people using the UK’s health services is a key factor, funding and staffing are others, but the real question is, can social marketing principles be used to initiate and sustain preventive health change among groups and communities perceived to be at risk?

One train of thought is that if the healthcare industry can get to grips with some of the underlying causes of many of the health issues it’s having to deal with, it stands a chance of survival.

Robust health marketing strategies are required

Now more than ever, there is a need for healthcare providers, to deliver health marketing strategies that deal with society’s social, health and mental wellbeing issues. These strategies need to deliver cohesive, coordinated and effective behaviour change among groups of people and communities, to limit unnecessary pressures on the NHS.

Social marketing – a possible solution?

While there is no quick fix, social marketing has been successfully used to initiate positive behaviour change among certain target groups.

Social marketing agencies specialise in marketing health services and NHS marketing, and are working with healthcare advertising agencies, to create frameworks that deliver positive behaviour change.

Dealing with underlying causes

We are a nation full of bad habits! Many of us, smoke, drink excessively, eat unhealthily and live our lives on the edge. Social marketing aims to understand why people make poor lifestyle decisions, and then finds ways of influencing those choices, leading to positive outcomes. But it’s not just the poor decisions we are making that are crippling the NHS. We are all living longer and, therefore, suffering from a range of age-related health issues.

Combining ideas from commercial marketing and the social sciences, social marketing is a proven tool for influencing behaviour in sustainable and cost-effective ways.

But it’s the value that social marketing delivers that makes it stand out. Social interventions are already helping the healthcare sector, but it’s the lifestyle benefits it delivers to people and society as a whole, that makes it a such an exciting concept.

Who are we?

We’re Perfect Circle – an award-winning social marketing agency, Manchester that delivers positive behavioural change across the UK.