Post Three–Bringing Targeting, Tailoring and Engagement Together

Ok…the first post in this series called Targeting versus Tailoring describes the difference between the two.  To summarize, a targeted message is created for a specific group of people.  A tailored message is directed to one individual, created specifically for that one person.  Both strategies of reaching the audience require formative research. Post two is called Engagement…making it relevant. As one commenter notes, targeting has been done in the advertising world for many years.Reaching an individual through tailoring is comparatively new.Research that has been done on tailoring has been in phases.The first phase compared tailored messages to nontailored messages.This research, conducted in the 90’s, consistently showed that using tailored messages resulted in greater recall of the information.The messages were more carefully read and believed to be more relevant than nontailored messages.Positive behavioral change was documented. Another phase of research examines the aspects of tailoring, like message source or cultural variables.  In one study in African American churches, message source was tested because formative research had  revealed much distrust of research. yet confidence in the Bible and scripture to provide health guidance.  In the study, the tailored communications were either endorsed by the church pastor or by nutrition experts.  Those who received the pastor sourced messages thought them more credible than those endorsed by the nutrition experts and pastor endorsed recipients had greater intention of modifying their health behavior. Okay, so now how do we use tailored communications?  Although the results of intervening at the individual level are impressive,  people do not live in a vacuum.  Indeed, sickness is not a result of personal failure.  Use a multi-level intervention, one that takes into account social networks social norms, and environmental factors, for example.  Although more complex to conceptualize and execute, multi-component health promotion interventions are more likely to result in lasting behavior change. Next post…gamification of health interventions

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