The Center for Tobacco Prevention and Control within the Maryland Department of Health & Mental Hygiene wanted to develop materials to assist landlords along the stages of change to adopt smoke-free policies at their properties in Maryland. The goal was to reach out to both market-rate property owners/managers and public housing authorities to educate them on implementation, clear up common misconceptions, and push the value of smoke-free living from a business and public health perspective.
The main challenge was overcoming the common misconceptions many landlords had regarding smoke-free policies due to their lack of complete knowledge on the subject. Preliminary focus groups were held to assess the general feelings, attitudes, knowledge, and receptiveness to smoke-free policies. This research guided the development of content and messaging for the toolkit and overall marketing strategy.
Writing & Content Development
Working with the internal project team, we took the initial draft of the toolkit and completely re-wrote and restructured the content to eliminate dense legalese and make it more accessible to the general public. Then, we enhanced this content with appropriate imagery and supplemental information from research conducted on core health literacy concepts and market-appropriate language.
The toolkit and campaign were designed around the theme “Clearing the Air: The Value of Smoke Free Living.” Aside from the literal, the idiom “clearing the air” alludes to the purpose of the initiative, which is to remove any doubt about the value of smoke-free housing by dispelling the myths occupying most landlords’ minds due to a lack of understanding. This theme also focuses on the value proposition. Landlords’ top priorities are protecting their investment, minimizing expenses, and keeping units occupied. All of the benefits discussed have a direct impact on the landlord’s bottom line and prove that smoke-free housing is a smart financial decision. The value proposition extends to the landlord’s target audience as well. After gaining an understanding of the benefits, they will be equipped to market this additional value to prospective tenants who shop for quality of life, not just quality of space.
An eye-catching and functional printed toolkit was developed which included a guidebook outlining the basic benefits and steps to adopting a program. The toolkit provided a brief introduction to the program and enclosed resources including fact sheets, talking points, and sample tools. The materials focused on the myths and realities of smoke-free housing, information on cost-saving benefits, legality of implementing such policies, market demand, development and enforcement of policy, and additional resources for landlords.
Interviews & Video Production
To localize the issue and make the information more credible, we decided to solicit success stories and words of advice from others in the Maryland housing industry that have successfully implemented smoke-free properties. We researched and interviewed property managers, residents, and legal representatives and used this information to develop videos. Other tasks involved scripting, storyboarding, on-site filming and photography, and post-production. The goal was to prove that the process of implementation a community decision and not a top-down enforcement.
A digital version of the toolkit was developed based on the printed version and restructured for digital interaction. It featured embedded media and tools such as:
Direct Mail & Marketing Collateral
In addition to the toolkits, marketing materials were created including signage that property owners could use and direct mail postcards with peel-off magnets. The goal was to provide property managers with free tools they could use to market the program and the toolkit.