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Gain Supporters and Influence People: Audience Analysis

A couple of months ago, we discussed the power of marketing to achieve your association’s policy advocacy goals. Today, I want to dig down a little deeper and give you some practical steps in a key aspect of policy advocacy – understanding your audiences.  A well thought out audience analysis will make your efforts more effective, and could tilt the scales from a loss to a win.

The importance of an audience analysis is really common sense – before you decide what to say, you need to know who you are talking to and what they want to hear.  Let’s take a look at your groups, motivators, messages, and materials. Here are some steps to get you started:  

1) In broad groups, who are you talking to?

  • Legislators and their staff
  • Local government elected officials 
  • Non-elected government officials (key staff, commission members, regulators, etc.)
  • Media
  • Supporting groups
  • Other groups who may support you
  • Opponents
  • Your membership

2) What motivates each group? Let’s look at some examples to get your wheels turning. These are just some possible motivations.

Your membership: supporting their business/interests; supporting the rest of industry; what is good for the association; and, making it easy for them to be involved.

Regulators: public safety; following the rules; pro-government; timelines; and, supporting their past actions.

Media: is the story interesting for our readers; have we written about this before; is other media already covering it; is it exclusive; and, will it impact our readership.

Elected officials/staff: how does this affect my constituents; is it consistent with my philosophy and past statements; and, what are the chances of it passing.

Groups who may support you: what is our time and expense commitment; will our members care about it; and, will it split our membership.

Opponents: it will affect me personally (raise taxes, increase traffic, decrease my property value); it is against my faith, worldview, or political philosophy; and, my friends and neighbors don’t like it.

3) Who motivates them? For each group, or, even better, key individuals and organizations within the group, identify who influences them – neighbors, key constituents, members of the media, competitors, other groups, key members, etc.

4) What is each group already saying about your policy, plan, proposal, etc.? Some examples include:

  • The coalition members supports it because it will help their group’s members reach more customers.
  • The opposing association is concerned it will mean a higher cost of doing business.
  • The elected official isn’t sure it affects their constituents, so they are not motivated to get involved.
  • The report is interested in writing about it, but needs more information on the impacts to business and a real-life subject to interview.
  • The local paper editorialized against it because they believe it violates free expression.

Your audience analysis drives your strategy and messaging. Next month we will tackle developing those so you can complete an effective advocacy marketing plan for the win.

Gain Supporters and Influence People: Audience Analysis

A couple of months ago, we discussed the power of marketing to achieve your association’s policy advocacy goals. Today, I want to dig down a little deeper and give you some practical steps in a key aspect of policy advocacy – understanding your audiences.  A well thought out audience analysis will make your efforts more effective, and could tilt the scales from a loss to a win.

The importance of an audience analysis is really common sense – before you decide what to say, you need to know who you are talking to and what they want to hear.  Let’s take a look at your groups, motivators, messages, and materials. Here are some steps to get you started:  

1) In broad groups, who are you talking to?

  • Legislators and their staff
  • Local government elected officials 
  • Non-elected government officials (key staff, commission members, regulators, etc.)
  • Media
  • Supporting groups
  • Other groups who may support you
  • Opponents
  • Your membership

2) What motivates each group? Let’s look at some examples to get your wheels turning. These are just some possible motivations.

Your membership: supporting their business/interests; supporting the rest of industry; what is good for the association; and, making it easy for them to be involved.

Regulators: public safety; following the rules; pro-government; timelines; and, supporting their past actions.

Media: is the story interesting for our readers; have we written about this before; is other media already covering it; is it exclusive; and, will it impact our readership.

Elected officials/staff: how does this affect my constituents; is it consistent with my philosophy and past statements; and, what are the chances of it passing.

Groups who may support you: what is our time and expense commitment; will our members care about it; and, will it split our membership.

Opponents: it will affect me personally (raise taxes, increase traffic, decrease my property value); it is against my faith, worldview, or political philosophy; and, my friends and neighbors don’t like it.

3) Who motivates them? For each group, or, even better, key individuals and organizations within the group, identify who influences them – neighbors, key constituents, members of the media, competitors, other groups, key members, etc.

4) What is each group already saying about your policy, plan, proposal, etc.? Some examples include:

  • The coalition members supports it because it will help their group’s members reach more customers.
  • The opposing association is concerned it will mean a higher cost of doing business.
  • The elected official isn’t sure it affects their constituents, so they are not motivated to get involved.
  • The report is interested in writing about it, but needs more information on the impacts to business and a real-life subject to interview.
  • The local paper editorialized against it because they believe it violates free expression.

Your audience analysis drives your strategy and messaging. Next month we will tackle developing those so you can complete an effective advocacy marketing plan for the win.

Dan Whiting

Dan Whiting is a communications, marketing, and government relations professional in Washington, DC. Dan starting working in public policy in 1996, serving 11 years as staff in the U.S. Senate as a policy advisor and then communications director. He marketed ideas, using content marketing, media relations, thought leadership and implementing new media channels when they were actually new. He also served in leadership at USDA for President Bush and as the first Director of Communications for the National Alliance of Forest Owners. He has survived crisis communications and taught writing, content marketing, and media relations workshops. He is passionate about communicating well to affect policy change while secretly hoping someone will hire him as a comedy writer. He is also a husband to one and a father to four (on purpose).