Step 4: Develop Your Campaign (Strategies and Tools)

Now you have your research in hand, you are ready for step 4: to develop your campaign. If a behavior change program is to be effective, careful consideration needs to be given to strategy development. Too often behavior change programs are based on hunches rather than solid information regarding the barriers and benefits to a behavior. Develop a strategy to remove the most important, threshold barriers, one (or a short list of barriers) that, if overcome, would free the priority audience to adopt the behavior and to highlight the most motivational benefits.

Here are some questions to answer before starting:

  1. What behavior are you addressing (what is the specific action you want your audience to take?)
  2. What is preventing your audience from adopting that behavior (threshold barrier)?
  3. What help does your audience need to adopt the behavior? Will the tools you choose provide the help your audience needs?

A. Design your Strategy

As you design your strategy, you must address these priorities:

  • What: What help does your priority audience need? What incentive, prompt, or nudge does your priority audience need in order to adopt the behavior? What motivation do they need to overcome their threshold barrier?

    If your audience does not have what they need in order to adopt the behavior, no amount of information will effect change.

    Example: Someone may remember and be better equipped to pick up their dog’s waste if they have a bag holder that fits on the dog’s leash, or if pet waste stations with bags and a waste can are located at hot spots such as dog parks or popular walking routes. As another example, many people acquire a rain barrel but never install it – about one-third of rain barrel owners – due to lack of comfort with cutting downspouts or properly siting the rain barrel. In this case, providing an installation service would help reduce the barrier of installation.
  • Where/When: Where will your campaign help them access the help they need?

    Ideally, that would happen at the place that is most conveniently for them, or at the moment they are making the decision whether to adopt the behavior. If the audience needs help remembering to do something, they may need a prompt, but this prompt must be placed close in place and time to where the behavior happens.

    Example: If you want people to stop idling their car engines while picking up kids from elementary school, you may need a prompt that is posted in the pickup lane so the audience can see it when and where they need to take the action.
  • How: How will you reach your priority audience? What will you say? How will you say it? Who is your messenger or what is the distribution method? When and how frequently will your tool be distributed to the priority audience? How can you ensure that your priority audience receives the tool? Most importantly, will your tools remove the threshold barrier? How long will your tools be in circulation before you measure behavior change?

    Example: Places that sell rain barrels or programs which promote rain barrels could distribute a list of rain barrel installation services or even arrange installation at the point of sale. If the cost of installation is a barrier, a reduced cost may be negotiated for a number of sales in the same community, or a volunteer group could be trained to install rain barrels and connected with those who purchase rain barrels.