How to Change Behaviour

Redbird follows a step-by-step process to change behaviour, through creative marketing campaigns -- like we did with members of BC's South Asian community, pictured above. If you're not ready to work with an agency, you can follow these behaviour change campaign steps yourself.

Step 1: Briefing
Start by asking questions: who is your target audience (demographics and psychographics), and exactly what behaviour are you trying to change? Be specific. Your goal shouldn’t be to have people “live a healthier lifestyle” – it should be to have them walk for 30 minutes three times a week or eat five vegetables daily, or something specific, measurable, and achievable. Identify the scope and parameters of the project: the geographical area, the timelines, and the budget.

Step 2: Behaviour Change Workshop
Assemble a focus group that includes members of your target audience – and gather intelligence about their psychological, generational, and cultural attitudes towards the desired behaviour, the barriers they may perceive to doing it, and the benefits of changing their behaviour. Do some brainstorming about imagery and messaging, and don’t forget the call to action.

Step 3: Primary Research
If possible, do some primary market research to benchmark the behaviours of your target audience, and also confirm the benefits and barriers you hypothesized in the workshop. For example, if you’re trying to improve volunteer engagement, you may have speculated that volunteers for your non-profit organization are dropping out because of lack of time. In your research, however, you may learn that they don't enjoy canvassing or don't feel sufficiently recognized . Know your limits. Do-it-yourself research can send you down the garden path if it’s not properly designed.

Step 4: Secondary Research
Don’t forget the secondary research – a scan of the literature and the internet to identify similar campaigns done elsewhere. Why reinvent the wheel when you can learn from others? Redbird has researched global best practices in youth mental health, sustainable weight loss, signs of stroke awareness, and other topics.

Step 5: Campaign Plan
Now it’s time to put it all in writing. State your objectives, describe your target audience, and describe the learnings from the workshop and the research. Decide on strategies that will help you change behaviour and achieve your objectives. If a major barrier to behaviour change is lack of knowledge, then start by raising awareness. If everybody is already aware of the facts, then design prompts, norms, competitions, incentives, rituals, nudges and fun activities that will help them engage and change. And identify costs and timelines required to execute the plan.  

Step 6: Creative Concepts and Executions
Behaviour change campaigns often involve creative materials, though not to the extent that awareness campaigns do. Perhaps you want a prompt to remind people to remind people to drink more water – you might design a clever (and waterproof) card that hangs on the faucet. Remember that collateral materials have a shelf life. After people have seen it for a few weeks, they will stop noticing it. Time for a new one.

Step 7: Results
To evaluate the success of your behaviour change marketing campaign, make sure you assign metrics to every tactic. It might be Google Analytics, before and after surveys, number of pledges made, number of kilometres walked, or number of vegetables eaten. Measure it, track it and analyze it, so you know what to keep and what to change as the campaign continues.