Teaching Behavior Change: Lessons from SPARKS 2014

Candy Castellanos of Waste Management speaking about foodcycling

Candy Castellanos of Waste Management speaking about foodcycling

This week I went to the 2014 SPARKS conference focused on social marketing in the Pacific Northwest. Speakers shared lessons from projects ranging from health care design to promoting safer pesticides and cleaning products to engaging residents in food scrap composting. Targeting “low-hanging fruit” was the conference’s unofficial theme — a good reminder that even the most daunting task can be broken into achievable goals.

  • For successful long-term, effective behavior change, draw on how humans evolved by stressing the personal benefits of change and making use of our need to feel valued by the group. Hogan Sherrow of You Evolving
  • Prevention, or no action, can be the behavior change you target. Heather Trim’s team analyzed shoreline armoring and decided the easiest target wasn’t removing bulkheads, but preventing them from being built on the homes that don’t have them now. With a “Beach Friendly” campaign, they’re establishing ‘no action’ as the behavior norm for shoreline homeowners. Heather Trim from Futurewise
  • Question all your assumptions when you’re deciding how to design an education campaign. They assumed shoreline homeowners were primarily families, when in reality they were almost all over 60. Heather Trim from Futurewise
  • Local stores make good partners for education campaigns because they have better staff retention than big box stores, making knowledge shared with sales staff ‘last longer’ when reaching the public. Jenn Leach of Seattle Tilth
  • Facilitators should design diagrams that invite discussion and ask users to tell a story. Kate Hasting from The Cadmus Group
  • Transcreation supplants translation: context is decisive in meaning. Transcreation combines language with context to convey the same meaning and spirit in different languages. Ha Na Park of C+C
  • Model desired behaviors with photos of how we want people to act. Haley Cureton of WA Dept. of Health and Mary Rabourn of King County

About Tracy Durnell

Seattle-area graphic designer and SFF writer inspired by the Pacific Northwest, crafting a sustainable and intentional life.

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