The Message Development Tool: A Case for Effective Operationalization of Messaging in Social Marketing Practice

Document Type


Publication Date



campaign, health communication, message development tool, social marketing, verb

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)



That messages are essential, if not the most critical component of any communicative process, seems like an obvious claim. More so when the communication is about health—one of the most vital and elemental of human experiences (Babrow & Mattson, 2003 Babrow , A. S. , & Mattson , M. ( 2003 ). Theorizing about health communication . In T. L. Thompson , A. M. Dorsey , K. I. Miller & R. Parrot (Eds.), Handbook of health communication (pp. 35 – 62 ). Mahwah , NJ : Lawrence Erlbaum Associates . [Google Scholar]). Any communication campaign that aims to change a target audience's health behaviors needs to centralize messages. Even though messaging strategies are an essential component of social marketing and are a widely used campaign model, health campaigns based on this framework have not always been able to effectively operationalize this key component, leading to cases where initiating and sustaining prescribed health behavior has been difficult (MacStravic, 2000 MacStravic , S. (2000). The missing links in social marketing. Journal of Health Communication , 5, 255–263.[Taylor & Francis Online], [Web of Science ®], [Google Scholar]). Based on an examination of the VERB campaign and an Australian breastfeeding promotion campaign, we propose a message development tool within the ambit of the social marketing framework that aims to extend the framework and ensure that the messaging component of the model is contextualized at the core of planning, implementation, and evaluation efforts.

Was this content written or created while at USF?


Citation / Publisher Attribution

Health Marketing Quarterly, v. 27, issue 3, p. 275-290