Marketing 101 for Life Improvement Series Programs


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Marketing is how you define and identify the needs of your participants, select a relevant and attractive product, promote your product, distribute your product, maintain a relationship with your customers and build collaborations.  Social marketing theory is made of the “six Ps.” They are: Participants, Product, Price, Place, Promotion and Partnership.  Each “P” contributes to your marketing mix .



Potential participants are the target for your marketing efforts. Based on consumer research, women age 45+ who are mildly to moderately affected by arthritis are most likely to participate in AF Life Improvement Series programs.  See Target Audience information. 



Product is the service you have to offer to customers. It is important to understand your product from the customer’s point of view. Consider their needs, beliefs, concerns and expectations.  See Highlights of Consumer Research Findings on page X for a summary of focus group findings outlining customers’ expectations and concerns.



Price is the amount of money charged for a service or the value exchanged for the benefits of the product or service.  Consumer research indicates that pricing strategies for AF Life Improvement Series programs should be aligned with participants’ expectations of a not-for-profit offering, competitive set consideration (pricing for similar programs – especially exercise programs) and arthritis-related value. The latter reflects the importance and value associated with features like a certified instructor, warm water and courses that have been specifically modified or developed for individuals with arthritis. Arthritis-related value may also be influenced by expected outcomes such as pain relief or cost-savings associated with reduced need for medication. 

Marketing materials for programs must demonstrate value relative to price. Following are suggestions for doing so:


  • Be sensitive to the marketplace and look at how the courses are priced relative to comparable offerings. Participants will compare prices of programs with similar, non-arthritis related offerings, as well as what is available that is free, such as hospital-based seminars.
  • If you want to appeal to older adults, consider senior pricing strategies. Special pricing strategies are needed to help seniors on a fixed income.
  • Offer one class free of charge for new participants so they can experience a program without a large upfront commitment.
  • Consider offering programs free of charge.  Consumer research found that this seemed especially pertinent to the AF Self-Help Program.



Place, or distribution channel is the method for making your product available to the consumer. Consumer research indicated that the type of physical location did not appear to be as important as proximity and convenience. Proximity could relate to either work or home locations, depending on the target market. When selecting locations, consider:


  • Providing courses during the workday or immediately thereafter, at work or near a work location if the target market is working adults and is interested in having programs at or near their worksite.
  • Offering courses at various local locations within 10 minutes of home for an older population. Course offerings for the older and non-working population should be scheduled preferably in late morning or mid-to-late afternoon. Avoid night classes for this market.



Promotion is the specific mix of advertising, personal selling, sales and promotion and public relations a company uses to pursue its advertising and marketing objectives.  See Successful Promotion Strategies for help developing your marketing mix. By repeatedly sending out promotional messages through a variety of channels, you can help ensure that the potential participant eventually hear about the available classes.



Partnership is the collaboration with community partners to enhance the reach and impact of the program. Partners may have numerous internal and external marketing outlets and spheres of influence to help promote scheduled programs. Your partner agreement should outline your respective responsibilities for marketing. Also, partners will value the professionally-designed brochures, flyers and ads available through the AF. Partners should be urged to use our standardized course names, logos and descriptions. More information about establishing and maintaining partnerships can be found in Part 1 of this Step-by-Step Guide.



The “Six P’s approach” described in this handout was adapted from the National Council on Aging, Center for Healthy Aging Issue Brief: Recruiting Older Adults Into Your Physical Activity Programs. Available from: URL:



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