Small Changes, Big Difference integrated marketing

Alex Petrie

Alex Petrie
Account Director

06 November 2015


At the EHealth Insider Awards earlier this month, our work with NHS Borders on the Small Changes, Big Difference campaign, was highly commended in the category for "Best use of Social Media" in a healthcare campaign.

While it’s always nice to receive a bit of industry recognition (and local recognition thanks to TD1 Radio), and lovely to attend glitzy ceremonies, of greater importance is looking at the story behind the commendation: NHS Borders using integrated marketing across each healthcare touchpoint across print, radio, digital and social media channels to encourage their staff and the community to engage with their local NHS and adopt healthier lifestyles. 

The forward thinking team at NHS Borders was great to work with, focusing their efforts on how they could harness digital and social media to better serve the local community. This is a public sector organization that places treating people as people, rather than a statistic, at its core. Community members' needs most certainly trumped organization needs in terms of strategy and thinking. And rightly so. 

While obviously doing the necessary exploration into behavioural models and drawing on theoretical insight is key, a genuine effort was applied to get to grips with the needs and behaviours of the individual we wanted the campaign to resonate with. 

The aim of the campaign was two-fold. Firstly, it sought to encourage people to take a proactive approach to their own health, inspiring people by communicating the message that making small changes to their lifestyles can have a huge positive impact on their health. Secondly, the campaign aimed to encourage NHS Borders staff to lead by example and participate in the campaign - they are part of the local community after all - while raising awareness among patients of the benefits of taking ownership of their health. 

We worked with NHS Borders to devise a multi-channel marketing strategy. At its core, a campaign microsite built using Umbraco, with integrated ‘Small Change, Big Difference’ pledge tool, social sharing functionality, offering an interactive, compelling online experience that encouraged engagement with the campaign. With the foundations in place, the campaign focused on social communication, creating unique content and sharing user generated content to maintain momentum. By capitalizing on staff stories, community pledges to improve health and the habit of people making New Year’s resolutions, as well as creating social content around this theme, the community quickly adopted the campaign and participated enthusiastically. 

The success of the campaign illustrates an important shift in public sector marketing: No longer can organisations take one of their needs and push a message or notion onto the end user and expect them to behave in a certain way. Whether it’s a social media campaign or an online service customer journey, modern public sector marketing is about putting service users – citizens - at the core, and taking an outside-in approach to developing the communications strategy. By focusing on the individual's experience, exploring their decision making processes as they move toward the desired behaviour, and continuing to look at every interaction they have with an organisation thereafter, marketers demonstrate a commitment to the individual which will, in turn, encourage behavioural change.  

Public sector marketers must remember that target audiences are people, and people respond to feeling valued. By keeping people at the core of everything you do, changes in behaviour will come, whether that’s improved uptake of services, better citizenship, or care for the community or environment, or simply a move toward more meaningful interactions with target audiences. 

The most forward thinking public sector organisations are pursuing strategies that will genuinely engineer impact. They approach strategies as living things: adaptable to customer behaviour, responsive to market and societal changes, and flexible enough to explore appropriate technical innovation or media. It’s an approach that, if implemented effectively, will change end user behaviour in the desired way, and achieve those important desired outcomes for the organisation. The ’Small Changes, Big Difference’ campaign is a great example of this type of strategic marketing on a local scale, in action.

The EHI Awards are the UK's only dedicated healthcare IT award scheme, so to be highly commended in the group of finalists, is testament to the fantastic work that NHS Borders does in using technology, digital innovation and marketing to better serve the public. We’re delighted that this recognition will help raise the profile of the work by NHS Borders to positively impact the health of the people of Scotland.

Feel free to drop me an email if you would like to discuss the campaign. Or if creating effective campaigns that change behaviour is what you're after, get in touch with the marketing team who are happy to chat.