Social Marketing and Outreach | Carolinian Canada

Carolinian Canada

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Social Marketing and Outreach

Calling all conservation partners

Join us to step into the future of conservation outreach. The Carolinian Canada Coalition’s (CCC’s) Grow Wild! strategy is a new way to raise awareness and inspire conservation action. It goes beyond traditional educational campaigns based on print materials such as brochures, fact sheets and web articles. Instead, Grow Wild! helps partners like you use social marketing tools to reach out to, and engage, new audiences. 

Grow Wild! is an umbrella program which supports a number of different social marketing initiatives across the Carolinian Life Zone (see Figure 1). Social marketing combines traditional marketing techniques and social psychology to promote sustainable behaviours. For example, social marketers use their outreach capacity to “sell” the benefits of a specific behaviour, such as sorting recyclables, to a target audience. In order to make such a sale, social marketers first research how they can help these audiences overcome any obstacles that might prevent them from taking part.  Grow Wild! seeks to use such techniques to promote good stewardship. The habitat-friendly actions we promote aim to benefit rare plants and animals. They can be as simple as leaving a snake alone, or more complex, such as creating a buffer on a stream.

Our goal is to inspire over 1,000 habitat actions over the next three years through collective efforts. There are three primary ways to become involved or learn more (see Figure 2):

1000 habitat friendly actions 

Our Approach

Through our research, we know your efforts have been effective in raising general awareness about the importance of species at risk in southern Ontario. But we have also confirmed that the public are unsure about what exactly they can do to help. Naturally, you want to help them take the next step. You have told us you have a great interest in reaching a wider variety of groups with stronger conservation messages. You hope what you have to say will resonate with these audiences. And you wish to empower them to take meaningful action.

Creating effective, streamlined and empowering messages is truly at the heart social marketing and our Grow Wild! strategy. We are now moving from concept development to working with you, our partners, to test our approach. Our collaborative social marketing initiative will help you:

1. Streamline messages - As a partner group, you can use Grow Wild!  to expand on an existing outreach program or create a new one. We recommend using one of three main messages related to our “Save, Steward and Seed” theme (see Figure 3). These actions address the needs of several species at risk recovery strategies. They therefore help provide a basis for a region-wide social marketing strategy.  In addition, promoting similar messages across the Carolinian Life Zone creates a sense of unity and reduces potential conflict in meaning.

2. Strengthen branding - Grow Wild! provides an umbrella campaign for multiple social marketing outreach projects. Housing your outreach project under this campaign serves to strengthen the branding of conservation messages across the Zone. The umbrella program aims to enhance, not detract from, individual outreach projects.

3. Track results – Producing only printed items for an outreach campaign poses one problem: the fate of these materials is in the hands of the consumer. We cannot control whether they are read, skimmed over or simply thrown out. To overcome this challenge, we recommend gathering print or electronic pledges. Pledges allow us to follow up with our target audience, help them overcome barriers to action and track success.

We have developed prototype pledge cards for various habitat actions that you can modify for your program. Typically, pledge takers share their contact information (various levels of anonymity), what they are doing, why this action is important to them, and what they might need help with.

Once you begin collecting pledges, you can then begin following-up with pledge-takers to assist them with their actions. If you agree to share your pledge data with CCC, we will be able to assist with periodic follow-up, recognize exceptional leaders and track habitat actions over time.

4. Reach out beyond brochures - It is how partners engage the community and use special tools that make social marketing most effective. For instance, coupons discounting native plants at local nurseries can be used as incentives to strengthen outreach campaigns. Examples of other tools include the creation of social norms, prompts and incentives (see Figure 4). These tools are most effective when used together.

5. Learn from peers – Social marketing proponents have successfully promoted good health, waste management and energy efficiency. It’s time to tap into this success. However, conservation-based social marketing is still new. Join us , CCC, and learn from our network of peers who are collaborating together to develop pilot projects and break new ground in this arena.

6. Save on Training – Social marketing training for staff can be expensive. Participate through our Grow Wild! program and save on workshops (see Figure 5). Learn from our webinars highlighting conservation-related advances. Join our network as a “Working Group” member and help develop/test ideas or talk to us to explore developing your own pilot project. We are also producing a toolkit.

7. Empower your audience to do more – Once you encourage audience members to take on habitat-friendly action, what next? Through Grow Wild! you can help people to take the “next step ” in their conservation journey. If you have helped them plant a native plant, for example, you can empower them to plant a habitat garden or larger group of plants.

 Figure 3: Grow Wild! umbrella and pilot project campaigns aim to promote “habitat actions” our research shows the public are most likely to undertake. “Save”, “Steward” and “Seed” describe three categories of habitat actions within the campaignFigure 4: In addition to pledges, various social marketing tools such as the creation of social norms, prompts and incentives can help foster habitat actions.
 Figure 5: CCC’s Grow Wild! Social Marketing workshops provide a great venue to receive training, share experiences, learn from others and network.  (photo: M. Kanter)

Carolinian Canada is a network of leaders growing healthy landscapes for a green future in the Carolinian Zone in the spirit and practice of reconciliation.

Carolinian Canada will make every effort to provide assistance making materials accessible on request. Contact for more information