9. Promoting Your Capstone Project Using Social Marketing Techniques

Learning Objectives

By the end of this chapter, you will be able to:

  1. Compare and contrast commercial and social marketing objectives.
  2. Explain the role of social marketing in capstone project development and implementation.
  3. Develop a small-scale marketing campaign for your capstone project.


This chapter describes how social marketing campaigns can be used to promote your capstone project and recruit participants.  Although social marketing is usually targeted to large audiences the concepts of social marketing introduced in this chapter can be used to promote your capstone project and encourage participant recruitment.


One of the first steps in the capstone experience is to identify an overall group of people, also referred to as a population.  Once a population is identified, you must devise a plan for subject selection, inviting members to participate.  This process may involve written invitations, telephone calls, or personal contacts in a clinical setting.  A key aspect of successful capstone implementation is the recruitment of participants.  Without project participation, the program will fail; therefore, participant recruitment and retention must be considered during the capstone planning process.  Within your MOU (Chapter 8) you will have outlined protocols and roles for stakeholders involved in your project. Developing a small-scale social marketing campaign will bring awareness of your project to the target community.  A small-scale social marketing campaign should take into account the services being provided, who will benefit from the services, and who needs to know about the services.  All necessary venues and stakeholders, such as partners, advisory boards, coalitions, community members, and participants should be considered.  Social marketing will create project awareness that will spark stakeholder interest and participation (Doll, 2010).

Commercial Marketing versus Social Marketing

In general, marketing is the process of getting potential clients or customers interested in your products or services.  While commercial marketing consists of efforts to promote and sell products profitably, social marketing has a non-profit motive and utilizes commercial marketing principles for non-profit purposes, such as informing and educating consumers and stakeholders about collective social issues (Nasrudin, 2022).  Although social and commercial marketing are both considered client-centered strategies that focus their research on a specific audience to understand behaviors, they can be distinguished in several ways.  (Refer to Table 9.1:  Commercial versus Social Marketing).

Table 9.1:  Commercial versus Social Marketing

Commercial Marketing Social Marketing
Focus Focuses on goods and services Focuses on behavior
Adopters Companies Populations, communities, charities, and other non-profit organizations
Purpose To make a profit by selling a product To influence behavior and to educate consumers about collective social issues
Target Consumers who are willing to buy products to satisfy their needs and wants Individuals with whom we want to change a behavior
Source of Funds Privately funded Funded from external organizations such as donations from donors or the government
Marketing Strategy Less attention is given to marketing ethics when developing strategies. The main considerations are revenue and cost Developing a strategy by promoting ethics and moral values.  The primary consideration in developing a strategy is social impact.  Marketing requires the involvement of stakeholders such as influencers, public advocacy, and communities
Impact Speed Often fast as customers are often willing to line up to get a new product Slower because it relates to thought patterns and behaviors (can take years)

Source:  Nasrudin, A. (2022, April 14). Commercial marketing: How it works, different from social marketing. Pension.  Retrieved September 30, 2022, from https://penpoin.com/commercial-marketing/

Social Marketing in Healthcare

Social marketing is the application of proven concepts and techniques drawn from the commercial sector to promote changes in diverse socially important behaviors, such as drug use and smoking.  Therefore, social marketing is widely used to influence health behavior.  Social marketers use a wide range of health communication strategies based on mass media.  Social marketers also use mediated, interpersonal, and other modes of communication; and marketing methods such as message placement, promotion, dissemination, and community-level outreach initiatives (Evans, 2006).  For students developing a capstone project with a target population, social marketing techniques can be used for program promotion and participant recruitment.

A Small-Scale Social Marketing Approach to Capstone Project Promotion and Participant Recruitment


Social marketing will help you reach your target audience.  This approach encourages you to thoroughly examine who you want to influence, and how to sway them most effectively.


Although this will depend on your project, it is helpful when you are trying to change the behavior of a group, population, or community.  Social marketing techniques can be used for program promotion, participant recruitment, and program sustainability.

Developing a Small-Scale Social Marketing Campaign

In the context of capstone projects, a social marketing campaign can be considered a philosophy that will direct how you approach your capstone project before and after implementation.  This does not mean that you must have a lot of money to make this work.  If you are excited about your capstone project and willing to put in the effort needed to make it work, social marketing can help you reach desired outcomes (Center for Community Health and Development at the University of Kansas, 2022).  (Refer to Table 9.2:  Managing a Small-Scale Social Marketing Campaign)

Table 9.2:  Strategies for Developing Your Small-Scale Social Marketing Campaign

Define the Problem, Issue, or Need Chapter 3 of this book:  Review your guiding question(s)
Define your Project’s Goal Chapters 3 and 4 of this book
Define your Target Audience Chapter 3 of this book:  Review your guiding questions (s)
Understand your Audience Chapter 3 of this book:  This can be facilitated by performing an Epidemiological Assessment of your population
Create your Intervention Chapters 3, 4, and 5 of this book
Design a Message Appropriate for your Population and Project Chapter 8 of this book:  This can be facilitated by reviewing your Epidemiological Assessment and Intervention
Select Channels of Communication Chapters 8 and 9 of this book: This is the time to brainstorm the best methods of disseminating your project’s information to stakeholders
Determine if IRB Approval is Necessary Chapter 8 of this book
Disseminate the Information Chapters 9 and 10 of this book: Once you have received approval from your capstone instructors, mentor, and/or IRB it is time to promote your program and recruit participants


Dissemination of project information, such as development of a small-scale marketing campaign, is an important consideration for effective program awareness, implementation, and sustainability.  Effective small-scale marketing campaigns should consider the services being provided, who will benefit from the services, and what stakeholders need to know about the services that are being offered.  Dissemination of information through social marketing can help to create community awareness regarding an important problem, issue, or need.  Small scale social marketing campaigns should be thoughtful and strategized processes because without stakeholder support, a program will not succeed or thrive.

Case Study:

Creating a Social Marketing Campaign for the Capstone Project:  A Health Literacy Workshop for Occupational Therapists Incorporating Elements of the Universal Precautions Toolkit

Glynn has created a marketing flyer to spur interest and participation in her workshop.  Glynn has included this flyer as an Appendix to her IRB application.  Once IRB approval is secured, Glynn will distribute this flyer within the skilled nursing facility.  Glynn will also make herself available to answer any questions stakeholders may have in reference to her project:



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