> The State

The State Of – The Advocate Journey, Level 2 – Engage



Tom Donnelly

Director, Grassroots Program Development

photo credit: Architect of the Capitol / CC0

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, or in our case, advocates.

The next level in our advocacy journey is moving from getting informed to engagement. In Level 1 – Get Informed (found here) we discussed regularly communicating with your advocate base. But how does one move an advocate from information gathering to engaging with lawmakers on behalf of the organization?

Level 2 – Engage

Engagement includes connecting with a lawmaker through a letter, an email, a phone call or a social media post.

The business community calls this stage “conversion.” Here they convert a customer from gathering information to purchasing a product. They do this with a variety of tactics designed to motivate the customer.

In advocacy we motivate the advocate by using compelling calls to action that convince them that taking an action will help them avoid a problem or that taking an action will help them gain a benefit.

At AFBF, we use two techniques to help motivate advocates to engage: create an immersive experience and evoke storytelling. The immersive experience uses simple phrases of “imagine if …” a policy was adopted or “imagine yourself …" in a situation. In regard to storytelling, stories should be personal as well as short, enthusiastic and tailored to the audience.

Take rural broadband for example. Currently, we are asking advocates to write to lawmakers to support legislation that will remove hurdles to “last-mile” broadband projects and prioritize rural areas most underserved. [Rural Broadband Action Alert.]

Thepolicy benefit to farmers and ranchers and others in rural areas where broadband connectivity is lacking is to allow them to use climate-smart, cloud-connected equipment that indicates soil conditions, weather and helps with the positioning of equipment. Told by individual farmers and ranchers in their own words, expressing their needs and reasons, is what advocacy engagement is all about.

Those who have or will be taking action are considered at Level 2, engaged advocates.

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 by going here.