This is the challenge for social marketers based at the Northern Ireland Blood Transfusion Service (NIBTS). In these times of austerity, marketing is seen by some governments as a ‘cost’ rather than cost-saving strategy. Marketers normally sell benefits but in the case of the NIBTS the direct benefit is normally to an unknown person. “The 6% figure shows the reality of the situation and the challenge facing social marketers based at the NIBTS. Marketers, whether in the public or private sector, face similar challenges changing attitudes and behaviours. In that respect the experience of the NIBTS has a lot to teach us all” says Richard Houdmont, Director for Ireland, The Chartered Institute of Marketing. “With very limited resources they have to squeeze every last drop of blood from their marketing budget” he added, not apologising for the pun. “Some people think that social marketing and public-sector marketing is nothing to do with ‘the real world’ of business, but SMEs understand that in order to success they have to be creative and make their limited marketing budgets go far. Marketing is all about behaviour change and changing attitudes and so the NIBTS has a lot to teach us about marketing”.

With a budget of around £26m and a staff of over 220, NIBTS is part of a network of blood services in the UK and Ireland, with strong links to sister organisations throughout Europe, through the European Blood Alliance, and DOMAINE (an EU-funded programme).

Paul McElkerney, a Chartered Marketer, is the manager of the Donor Recruitment and Organisation department in NIBTS and at 6.00pm on 3 March The Chartered Institute of Marketing will be holding an event at the headquarters of the NIBTS at Belfast City Hospital when Paul will be revealing to fellow marketers the challenges, ‘what works’ and in the unpredictable world of human nature and changing behaviours and attitudes, what sometimes doesn’t work. He will dissect down further into the marketing channels NIBTS use to promote and performance measure the service. This will include KPIs such as complaints, satisfaction and another new measure relating staff inputs to successful donor recruitment and maintenance of the (customer) database. He will be joined by Charles Kinney who is the Donor Services General Manager at NIBTS, with primary responsibility for the donor programme, including blood collection staff (nursing, admin and transport), donor records and donor marketing. A key member of the senior management team, Charles is a Chartered Marketer and long-standing CIM member. Advance booking is required, see www.cim.co.uk/38380 for details or phone 01628 427340.