How can we know that lasting change has been achieved by a campaign? Time, continual market research and again, time.
By their very nature, behavior change campaigns typically span a long period of time because changing a person’s habits in an enduring way requires years not weeks.
Market research not only provides a benchmark when creating behavior change campaigns, it also serves as an effective tool to measure campaign effectiveness along the way.
If the behavior change continuum offers a road map of the various stages leading to the ultimate destination, then research represents the gas station that fuels campaign development.
In most cases, a baseline survey gives us the starting points for each of the phases (awareness, interest, knowledge, trial, adoption) as well as the benchmark for actual behavior at a point in time. Other research activities can shed light on knowledge gaps, key messages and emotional connections. For example, in developing messaging for our Delta Dental campaign, we knew that many parents simply didn’t think baby teeth mattered. In focus groups, we uncovered the key to changing this belief: cavities spread from baby teeth to adult teeth. Once participants were exposed to this fact, their attitudes towards baby teeth shifted immediately, and we found the engine for our messaging.
In our research for the Colorado Advisory Council for Persons with Disabilities, we set out to explain the rampant abuse of disabled parking spots. Overwhelmingly, survey respondents claimed, “I never do it.” When the facilitator admitted to doing the deed, the respondents felt more at ease. Suddenly the floodgates opened with confessions and excuses. These conversations paved the way to effective messaging and a campaign tone that resonated with real people in their daily routines.
By checking in with your audience periodically, listening attentively and probing for deeper insights, you can fine-tune your campaign as you go, stepping more confidently on the accelerator towards the end goal at every turn.