Implement an Evidence Based Program

Section 5.0

Program Marketing and Participant Recruitment

Figure 6.
Marketing mix components

ProductWhat you are offering to meet consumer needs (e.g., health fair, exercise class, counseling service).

PriceWhat it costs consumers to obtain the product and its associated benefits (e.g., time, effort).

Marketing Mix

PlaceWhere consumers have access to the product (e.g., senior center, health department clinic, worksite).

PromotionCommunicating to consumers about the product (e.g., flyers, newspaper ads, posters, banners).

Before members of your target audience can be reached with your program, they must first know about the program and be interested in it. Awareness and interest are generated through marketing and participant recruitment. Marketing is a process for generating, communicating, and distributing value to consumers. In commercial marketing, the value is generally a product or service that is provided in exchange for a financial payment. In social marketing, the value is generally a behavior, service, or event. Social marketing is concerned with behavior change for improved health, not financial gain. Social marketing combined with specific actions to decrease barriers to participation are the means by which you can recruit members of your target audience.

There are several questions to ask as you begin developing your campaign.

  • When should I begin promoting the program? In general, the earlier you can get started, the better. A rule of thumb is to begin marketing your program between eight weeks and four weeks before it begins.
  • Who is my audience and what do they care about? Reaching your audience effectively requires knowledge of where they live, where they congregate, their interests, and their sources of information.
  • Which marketing methods will reach my audience? Based on the information learned about your audience from the above questions, select suitable marketing approaches. Consider face-to-face meetings if your audience tends to congregate in certain locations, such as senior centers or a church. Hanging posters in these locations and distributing flyers may also be beneficial. If your audience is computer savvy, consider using email or social media. If they are not, then direct mail might be a better option. Enlist the help of program champions to promote the program with word-of-mouth marketing.
  • How much can I spend on marketing? Consider your budget and the methods you would like to use to promote your program. Select the methods you can afford, remembering that some mediums (e.g., TV commercials) will cost more than others (e.g., posters hung on community bulletin boards).
  • What message do you want to communicate? Be sure to choose your words carefully. For example, are you implementing a “health promotion” or a “disease prevention” program? Is your program for people with “ongoing health conditions” or for “chronically ill” people? Does your program “help you connect with others” or does it “prevent feelings of loneliness”? How you phrase your marketing messages can make a huge difference in how the program is perceived.
  • How can I network and build infrastructure to support ongoing marketing? What relationships do you have with other organizations that can help you spread the word about your program? Can you leverage connections you have with radio stations or local newspapers? Make plans, if not already in place, to keep in touch with the individuals who do participate in your program so you can contact them in the future about new programs and opportunities. Sending periodic newsletters and hosting social events are examples of how you can maintain contact with former participants.

Social marketing and the marketing mix

Social marketing is the application of commercial marketing techniques to campaigns designed to influence the behavior of individuals to improve their welfare and that of society as a whole. The most prevalent technique in commercial marketing is the management of the marketing mix components, which are sometimes referred to as the “Four Ps” (see Figure 6). Likewise, program implementers can manipulate the Four Ps in social marketing to make sure they promote the right product in the right place for the right price.

Strategies related to each of the Four Ps can be employed to increase the likelihood that the marketing mix will accomplish its purpose. Several of these strategies are listed below.

  • Product
    • Involve members of the target audience in the selection of the program.
    • Use needs assessment data to guide program selection so the selected program is relevant to the audience.
    • Translate program materials into the native language of your audience.
    • Utilize lay leaders and staff members who reflect the characteristics (e.g., ethnicity, age, socioeconomic status) of your audience.
    • Link the program to a trusted individual or institution in the community.
    • Help audience members see the program as beneficial (for example, use the term “health promotion” as opposed to “disease prevention”).
  • Price
    • Offer programs for free.
    • If you do charge for a program, offer scholarships and reduce fees on a sliding scale.
    • Emphasize the benefits of the program (i.e., the “return on investment”).
  • Place
    • Offer the program in facilities that are easy to locate and access.
    • Offer the program at multiple locations, especially at those where your audience typically congregates.
    • Offer the program at convenient times.
  • Promotion
    • Utilize multiple advertising approaches (e.g., mass media, flyers and posters, direct mail).
    • Conduct social events in venues frequented by your audience.
    • Offer previews or trials of the program.
    • Consider using social media, which is becoming popular among seniors.
    • Encourage participants to invite family and friends to take part in the program.

Glossary of Terms

Toolkit Glossary

scroll to see all

Adaptation– Making changes to an evidence-based program in order to make it more suitable for a particular organization and/or audience.

Baseline – A starting point. In evidence-based programming, the term “baseline” is usually used in the context of data collection, where baseline data is data collected before a program is implemented.

Credentials – A testimony of qualification, competence, or authority issued to an individual by a third party. Examples of credentials include academic diplomas, academic degrees (e.g., MSW, MPH, PhD), licenses (e.g., MD, RN, LCSW), certifications (e.g., CHES, CPR, first aid), and security clearances.

Evidence – Facts or testimony in support of a conclusion, statement, or belief. In some settings, individuals may refer to “levels of evidence” or “types of evidence.” These terms will have specific definitions unique to the setting in which they are used. When referring to evidence-based programs, the term “evidence” is generally used to describe the findings or results of program evaluation studies.

Evidence-based program – A program that has been thoroughly evaluated by researchers who determined it produces positive outcomes.

Fidelity – The extent to which a program is being implemented as its developers intended for it to be.

Implementation – Putting into action or carrying out a program.

Instrument – A measurement tool. Instruments can take many forms including biomedical equipment (e.g., glucometer, blood pressure monitor, weight scale), pencil and paper tests, questionnaires, and interviews. A thermometer is an instrument used to measure body temperature. Likewise, a survey is an instrument that can be used to measure anxiety.

Medicaid – A publically-funded health insurance program for individuals who have low incomes and fall into certain categories of eligibility.

Objectives – Specific, measurable steps that can be taken to achieve goals.

Peer review – When experts review a professional’s performance, research, or writings. Peer review is a way that qualified professionals self-regulate their professions. Performance, research, or writings that pass the peer review process have increased credibility or trustworthiness.

Program champion – An individual who advocates for a program.

Quality assurance- A collection of planned, systematic activities applied to ensure that the components of a program are being implemented well.

Secondary data – Previously collected data that is being used for a purpose other than that for which it was originally collected.

Theory of behavior change – An attempt to explain how and why people change their behaviors. Researchers typically generate theories of behavior change from research in the fields of psychology, education, health, and other social sciences. When developing evidence-based programs, researchers will select a theory or components from several theories to guide program development.

Audience – The individuals for whom you implement your program. Depending on your setting, these individuals may also be referred to as a target population, population of interest, or clientele.

Buy-in – Typically used in the business world, buy-in refers to a financial exchange. In the context of health programs, the buy-in of stakeholders (community members, organizational leaders, participants, etc.) is generally non-financial. It involves their acceptance of a concept, idea, or proposal.

Data – A collection of facts, such as measurements and statistics.

Evidence-based practice – When clinicians (e.g., doctors, nurses) base their healthcare treatment decisions on the findings of current research, their clinical expertise, and the values/preferences of their patients.

Evidence-informed practice or program – A practice or program that is guided by theories and preliminary research. While there is some indication that these practices and programs produce positive outcomes, the evidence is too weak to refer to them as evidence-based. These are sometimes referred to as “promising” or “emerging” practices and programs.

Goals – General, non-measurable intentions or outcomes.

Incentives for participation – Factors that motivate an individual to take part in a program. Organizations sometimes provide incentives to encourage participants to begin and/or remain enrolled in a program. Common incentives include gift cards and program t-shirts.

Intervention – Organized efforts to promote health and prevent disease. This term is used because the efforts intervene, or come between, an individual and a negative health outcome in an attempt to prevent or delay the negative outcome. “Intervention” and “program” are often used interchangeably.

Interventionist – An individual who implements or carries out the components of a program.

Lay leaders – Individuals who do not have formal healthcare credentials who are trained to lead evidence-based programs.

Medicare – A publically-funded health insurance program for adults over age 65 and individuals with certain disabilities or health conditions.

Partnership – A cooperative relationship between two or more organizations that collaborate to achieve a common goal through the effective use of knowledge, personnel, and other resources.

Primary data – Original or new data being collected for a specific research goal.

Protocols - Predefined procedural methods. Examples include detailed program implementation procedures, required equipment, required data collection instruments with detailed instructions for administration, and recommended safety precautions.

Readiness – The degree to which an organization is prepared or ready for something.

Stakeholder – Any individual or group that has a stake or interest in a program.

Translation – The process of taking a program originally implemented in a controlled, laboratory-like setting and making it suitable for implementation in the community.

Table of Contents