HCA 3310, Health Care Marketing 1

Course Learning Outcomes for Unit VIII

Upon completion of this unit, students should be able to:

1. Examine the principles of health care marketing.1.1 Apply principles of social marketing to a marketing strategic plan.

6. Apply business principles to the health care marketing process.6.1 Implement business principles in a marketing strategic plan.

Course/Unit Learning Outcomes

Learning Activity

1.1, 6.1

Unit Lesson Chapter 9 Article: “A Code of Ethics for Social Marketing? Bridging Procedural Ethics and

Ethics-in-Practice” Document: “Building our understanding: Social Marketing on a Dime. Using

Social Media to do More With Less” Unit VIII Project

Required Unit Resources

Chapter 9: Social Cause Marketing in Health Care

In order to access the following resources, click the links below.

Carter, S. M., Mayes, C., Eagle, L., & Dahl, S. (2017). A code of ethics for social marketing? Bridging procedural ethics and ethics-in-practice. Journal of Nonprofit & Public Sector Marketing, 29(1), 20–38. https://libraryresources.columbiasouthern.edu/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=bsu&AN=123226358&site=ehost-live&scope=site

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Building our understanding: Social marketing on a dime: Using social media to do more with less. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dch/programs/healthycommunitiesprogram/tools/pdf/social_marketing.pdf

Unit Lesson


Creating a marketing strategic plan based on the steps involved can appear straightforward. In Unit VII, hospital characteristics were discussed in terms of how they relate to a marketing strategic plan. You also began the process of creating a marketing plan based on following the steps outlined in your eTextbook.

Social Marketing

This unit will now focus on the impact of social marketing. Depending on the topic, service, or product you are marketing, understanding principles of social marketing and applying them within your strategic plan can make or break your campaign. It is common for strategic marketing plans in health care to include topics around changing the behavior of consumers. It is important to understand how messages are presented and how and why consumers become engaged.


HCA 3310, Health Care Marketing 2


Social marketing may be a new concept for some, but most of us have been impacted by social campaigns for our entire lives. The premises of social marketing are influencing the behavior of a target audience. This could be getting them to do a new behavior, stop a current behavior, change a current behavior, or even prevent some behaviors from starting. Target audiences include all demographics of consumers. Consider the photo below. What comes to mind when you see it? You likely instantly know the rest of the line that is blacked out—prevent forest fires. Can you describe how you prevent them? Maybe, maybe not, but most of us know each one of us plays a role and is responsible for certain actions when in the forest and using fire. The behavior targeted here is thought and consideration around how fires are started to help ensure prevention of large forest fires.

(Adapted from Wirestock, n.d.)

Now consider the next photo and think of the word “brain.” What comes to mind? It should invoke a powerful social marketing campaign that began decades ago and has evolved and been recreated several times over the years. The “this is your brain on drugs” marketing objective was to prevent people from using drugs and also to, hopefully, inspire those who may be using drugs to stop.

(Emerson, n.d.)

Both of these examples have evolved over time, but social marketing is not accomplished just through print or TV ads such as these. In order to really inspire behavior change, marketing professionals look to provoke the consumer’s emotions, hoping that will force them to act.

HCA 3310, Health Care Marketing 3


Have you ever seen the save the animals advertisements on television? Sad music playing while pictures of malnourished dogs are shown, and celebrities share the importance of saving animals often makes people pick up the phone and give money or change the channel. The same is true in reverse. Watching a commercial that has music, bright colors, and people having fun may lead to you try the chips they are eating or the drinks they are carrying around. When it is hot outside, seeing cold refreshing scenes may be appealing and vice versa in the winter. There is an entire field of psychology focused on how music, color, and visual graphics affect the consumer’s interest and motivation to act or buy. For example, colors of blue tend to evoke feelings of calmness while pink is more cheerful, and black shows authority. Interestingly, these psychological principles even apply when you market yourself. Think, for example, of what you wear to an interview and what colors are most prominent.

What does all this have to do with you as a health care leader? Well, first know that design matters. Having marketing experts that can help choose designs that are intriguing and inviting will help attract people to your message. The second importance in this topic is to remember the principles of ethics, particularly around integrity, as you decide social marketing messaging.

Attracting Consumer Attention and Building Trust

As we briefly touched on in the first part of this unit, there are many ways to attract the attention of our consumers and pull on their motivations and emotions to influence their actions and behaviors. As health care providers often representing our organizations, we must remember that the messaging—and impacts of our messaging—impact the trust we build with our consumer base as well as the connection with our brand.

Although colors, music, and visuals can add engagement and provoke certain types of feelings from consumers, we must ensure our messages are clear, honest, and inclusive. For example, one organization may want to target its community with education on bicycle safety for children. Let’s say that the marketing team decides to link the love a parent has for their child with the importance of keeping them safe. Messaging that says love your child and protect their head is suggested as a potential campaign. On the surface this may seem quite appropriate. But what if 50% of the targeted consumers live in poverty and cannot afford a bicycle helmet? Could they perceive the organization as saying that they do not love their child since they can’t afford a helmet? Do not let yourself think that would be a stretch. Perception, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. In this example, the entire message may not need to change. Perhaps knowing that 50% of the consumers live in poverty, places that give away free helmets could be added to the resources. It is always essential to make sure marketing plans have well thought-out methods for how consumers on the other end will be able to access the product or service. Let’s look at one more example.

Many health care organizations use social marketing campaigns to educate the public about health issues and concerns. Just like with forest fires and the potential impact of drugs, the goal is to inform consumers about the negative impacts of something and empower them to realize they have control over their behavior and can prevent that negative impact.

Take physical activity for example. With obesity rates on the rise in the United States, particularly in children, many organizations have targeted programming and marketing campaigns on ways to be physically active. One organization may decide they want to start a campaign called “walk the park” to encourage families to get outside at least three times a week and do something in their local park, even if it is to just walk. This seems like a great idea, right? Maybe! The answer depends on the target consumer group. If we are targeting consumers who live in an urban location where the closest park is a mile away, this may not be the best campaign. We may need to focus on ways to increase activity that include indoor options. When we think about being inclusive, we may also want to address ways that people with disabilities or physical limitations can participate in activities. You can see how messaging that is well intended can potentially come across as offensive or even degrading when not balanced with the demographics of the target consumer group.

HCA 3310, Health Care Marketing 4



Emerson, V. (n.d.). Fried eggs in a frying pan (ID 218554772) [Photograph]. Dreamstime. https://www.dreamstime.com/fried-eggs-frying-pan-high-quality-photo-image218554772

Wirestock. (n.d.). Beautiful autumn forest with a sign that read Remember, only you can prevent forest fires (ID 176235860) [Photograph]. Dreamstime.com. https://www.dreamstime.com/beautiful-autumn-forest-sign-read-remember-you-can-prevent-fires-image176235860

Suggested Unit Resources

In order to access the following resources, click the links below.

The following article explores how personal values shape choices and can impact marketing efforts.

Lee, J., & Cho, M. (2019). New insights into socially responsible consumers: The role of personal values. International Journal of Consumer Studies, 43(2), 123–133. https://libraryresources.columbiasouthern.edu/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=bsu&AN=134931353&site=ehost-live&scope=site

In the following article, the authors explore consumers' preferences for different colors and color combinations through an eight-country study.

Madden, T. J., Hewett, K., & Roth, M. S. (2000). Managing images in different cultures: A cross-national study of color meanings and preferences. Journal of International Marketing, 8(4), 90–107. https://libraryresources.columbiasouthern.edu/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=bsu&AN=3950118&site=ehost-live&scope=site

The following article explores how culture and gender factor into consumer marketing.

Heidarian, E. (2019). The impact of trust propensity on consumers’ cause-related marketing purchase intentions and the moderating role of culture and gender. Journal of International Consumer Marketing, 31(4), 345–362. https://libraryresources.columbiasouthern.edu/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=bsu&AN=138026891&site=ehost-live&scope=site

Collins, R. L., Wong, E. C., Breslau, J., Burnam, A., Cefalu, M., & Roth, E. (2019). Social marketing of mental health treatment: California’s mental illness stigma reduction campaign. American Journal of Public Health, 109, S228–S235. https://libraryresources.columbiasouthern.edu/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=bsu&AN=137186839&site=ehost-live&scope=site

Learning Activities (Nongraded)

Nongraded Learning Activities are provided to aid students in their course of study. You do not have to submit them. If you have questions, contact your instructor for further guidance and information.

Choose two advertisements for a product, at least one of which is a health care product or service. Describe the visuals used in the advertisement and why you believe those elements were chosen. What impact do you believe this has on the consumer?

  • Course Learning Outcomes for Unit VIII
  • Required Unit Resources
  • Unit Lesson
    • Introduction
    • Social Marketing
    • Attracting Consumer Attention and Building Trust
    • References
  • Suggested Unit Resources
  • Learning Activities (Nongraded)