A Guide to Strategic Advocacy Part 2: Utilize Your Tools Effectively

March 4, 2013 by Crescerance

Organizations that have made an investment in advocacy software may believe that just having the right tools will make their grassroots campaigns more successful. While grassroots advocacy technology does make the process of gathering advocates, informing and engaging them, and calling them to action a less difficult task, there is still a bit of strategic thinking required to get the most out of what you’ve got. In the second part of our two part article, we will discuss how you can look at the tools you have and devise a more strategic approach to advocacy that best utilizes everything in your grassroots arsenal.

Segment Your Advocates Database

“Segmentation” is a marketing buzzword that describes dividing people into population groups based on their demographics, psychology, or other factors. By segmenting your product’s audience you can deliver a more effective message targeted at a particular group. Think about the old adage “Don’t sell ice to Eskimos”; lobbyists need to think about advocacy the same way. Your advocacy database is not composed of one class of people. There are always some people who are more interested in supporting your issues than others. Associations often make the mistake of believing that because someone joined the group, they are fervent supporters. Human nature says people join groups for so many reasons, and many of them are not advocacy oriented.

Create Smaller, Focused Groups

Lobbyists can create database segments to reach out to their advocates and craft action alerts more effectively. A good advocacy system should allow you to create smaller subsets of your overall membership that can be targeted with customized messages. For example, if you have a group of your association’s membership that attend certain events or regularly answer calls to action then you have a group of more engaged advocates that may want legislative updates more often than just causal association members. Consider sending out a survey that asks which issues concern people or their legislative areas of interest. From the survey you can create segments based on the issues and contact them when their issues come up at the capitol. You may have a smaller subset of your membership that have worked on a particular legislator’s campaign or have political or even personal relationships with elected officials. A grassroots advocacy system that tracks key political relationships can help segment your database into smaller groups for more targeted messages.

Develop Your Advocacy Network

Your online advocacy system is can help you create these segments automatically if you create an online grassroots network. A grassroots network is an online environment where your members can go to indicate that they want to step forward and become a qualified advocate for your organization. By asking a few questions such as “Do you have a relationship with any elected officials?” or “What is your level of commitment?” By asking these questions, your advocacy network can automatically create segments based on people that know certain legislators and people that would be willing to make phone calls, but you also create a larger segment of all the people that have joined your network. If your grassroots system geo-codes your member’s address, you have even more database segments to reach out to. Advocacy should be about quality not quantity. You can be more effective with three people who know a legislator speaking with them then trying the 10,000 emails approach. The difference is, when you are strategic, you are thinking more about being heard then about making noise.