Through a series of articles we call The State, the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Advocacy and Political Affairs team is providing analysis related to "the state of" various aspects related to advocacy and political trends impacting farmers and ranchers and rural Americans.
Every advocate takes a journey when they decide “to do something,” from making the decision to take an initial action to becoming a key advocate for an organization or issue.
Over the past few years, legislative advocacy has evolved by adapting current marketing strategies employed by the business community, using a customer-centric approach called the customer journey. The approach builds trust with customers by rewarding them for their continued engagement, moving them from satisfied to loyal customers.
The same approach can be applied to advocates. For the FB Advocacy program, we strive to build trust with advocates and move them along an advocate “journey,” guiding them from early-stage sign-ups to reliable key advocates with relationships with lawmakers.
The business community defines the customer in personas, and for each persona, there are purposeful, deliberate and coordinated interactions that support engagement. In advocacy, we have similar personas, and by coordinating our interactions, we can move advocates from an entry-level to a higher level of engagement.
Below is an example of using deliberate interactions between Farm Bureau and our advocates to bring them along the advocate journey - motivating them from level one to another.
Level 1 – Get Informed
Once advocates provide contact information to receive emails and communication on advocacy-related issues and calls to action, they enter the advocate journey at level one. For the AFBF, this level also includes advocates educating themselves about policy issues that impact agriculture or following lawmakers on social media.
The following purposeful, deliberate and coordinated interactions can be used to motivate advocates to take the journey from level one to higher levels.
Email continues to be the best vehicle for communicating with advocates. However, only using email to ask your advocates to act on an issue can water down your calls to action. By using a series of emails over time, you can educate, inform and motivate advocates to engage on behalf of the organization.
- Thank you email: An email sent several weeks after an advocate first signed up for advocacy information to thank them for their interest and provide a quick overview of recent advocacy efforts.
- Suggested reading email: An email sent a month after new advocates signed up to inform them where they could get more information about policy issues and encourage continued engagement.
- Power of advocacy email: An email sent several months after they signed up to again thank advocates for their interest and motivate them to take several steps to get to the next level. For AFBF, that could be to act on an Action Alert, participate in a meeting with a lawmaker or contribute to a political action committee.
Content is used to reward advocates for their engagement. Supplying information that they would not necessarily receive through other channels gives them a sense of exclusivity.
- Access to new policy analysis
- Virtual meeting with a key Hill staff member
- Reports on how their participation has helped the organization
- Social media content that can be shared
The tactics above are just an example and can motivate and engage advocates at any level.
Instituting an advocate journey program takes planning and time. However, by using a variety of advocacy, email and marketing platforms to automate the process, you can implement an advocate-centric program to build trust with your advocates and move them along an advocate “journey” from early-stage sign-ups to reliable key advocates with relationships with lawmakers.
Start your advocate journey and sign up for Action Alerts from FB Advocacy direct to your in-box here.
Tom Donnelly is AFBF’s director of grassroots program development.