Three Easy Steps to Better Advocacy
As advocates, we’re often frustrated when people don’t take action after we ask them to make changes that help animals. Last week’s article, “Want Better Results for Animals? Put the Vegan Shoe on the Other Foot,” invited you to gain insight into your advocacy by being on the receiving end of a campaign outside the animal protection field. I’ve used this approach at numerous conferences…
Guest blog by Caryn Ginsberg
Part 2 of 2
|Blog series on effective advocacy by Caryn Ginsberg:
Part 2: Three Easy Steps to Better Advocacy
As advocates, we’re often frustrated when people don’t take action after we ask them to make changes that help animals. Last week’s article, “Want to be a More Effective Advocate? Put the (Vegan) Shoe on the Other Foot,” invited you to gain insight into your advocacy by being on the receiving end of a campaign outside the animal protection field. (If you haven’t had a chance to complete that activity, you’ll get even more out of this article if you try it first).
I’ve used this approach at numerous conferences. Whether I ask people to shop exclusively at second-hand outlets, give up their cars, or eat 100% raw food, I rarely have more than a few takers. That’s because these mini-campaigns don’t go far enough to address three key steps that would make them more compelling.
While nothing can guarantee 100% success, these three steps will help you do more for animals.
1. Answer “what’s in it for me?”
People change when they feel it’s in their interest to do so. When you read the shopping example, you evaluated what’s in it for me. If you weren’t ready to give up shopping at large retailers, you didn’t perceive the benefits of doing so as greater than the barriers. Even if you valued the environmental and social justice arguments, you may have had concerns about:
- Where else to shop
- Higher prices for organic, labor-friendly goods from specialty retailers
- The quality and selection of second-hand clothing
- The inconvenience of shopping at a thrift shop or consignment outlet
We can talk ourselves blue in the face, but unless we tip the scales for people to feel that taking action is in their benefit, they won’t. Altruism can make people feel good about themselves, but it’s one benefit among many and comes up against the barriers that people often see in making change.
2. Focus on more than message
Crafting effective messages, whether one-on-one or for campaigns, is critical to success. But effective advocacy requires more than education on the issues. It’s about delivering the complete package to inspire change. For example, a campaign to persuade women who wear fur coats to choose alternatives should also provide information on fake furs, identify where to buy them, and explain how to donate a fur coat to an animal protection organization for a possible tax deduction. Businesses know that it takes the 4Ps of marketing: product (the faux coats), place (where to buy), and price (tax deduction) in addition to promotion (communication) to get results.
Much of the growth in the consumption of vegetarian and vegan foods has come from the increase in substitute products and grocers carrying them. Further advances to improve taste, lower cost, and increase availability can be as powerful or even more so than what we say and how we say it.
3. Find out what you don’t know
The appeal asking you to avoid malls and major retailers wasn’t based on any understanding of your situation. Suppose I’d first asked these questions:
- Where do you shop now and why?
- What would you think of buying some or all of your clothing second-hand?
- What benefits would you see in buying second-hand clothing?
Maybe you weren’t that convinced of the environmental impact, but liked the idea of saving money. Maybe you weren’t aware of a nicer thrift shop that had just opened in your area. By finding out what was on your mind, I could have engaged you with ideas, and resources that were much more compelling.
When we talk with people one-on-one, we get better results by listening as much as talking. Rather than “speechifying,” asking questions and genuinely considering the responses give us useful information and can build a better relationship.
When we’re planning campaigns, research is our tool to listen to large numbers of people. In focus groups, participants share detail and nuance on how they feel about animal issues. Surveys reach large numbers of people to provide quantified results that can predict how others will generally respond. Research studies at Faunalytics or customized research projects can help you learn more about the people you’re trying to reach and what will work best in approaching them.
Insight and action
To put these ideas to work for you and for animals, think about each of these key points in planning your advocacy.
- Answer what’s in it for me? Consider ways you help people perceive additional benefits and fewer barriers to animal-friendly behavior.
- Focus on more than the message. Make it easier for people to adopt animal-friendly behaviors, such as by maintaining a listing of animal-free circuses visiting the area. If alternatives are inferior, costly, or hard to find, explore ways to change the situation.
- Find out what you don’t know. Determine how you will listen to people one-on-one, using Faunalytics or via research studies.
I hope this two-part series has given you some fresh ideas on how to make your outreach even more effective. Please share your comments on how you’ll put these tips to work to get better results for animals.
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Have you used these steps or related social marketing approaches successfully in the past? Please contact Caryn Ginsberg to share your stories for possible inclusion in her forthcoming book on effective animal advocacy.
For additional articles on effective animal advocacy, please visit http://www.Priority-Ventures-Group.com/Resources
Caryn Ginsberg has more than ten years of experience helping individuals and organizations get better results for animals. Her clients include ASPCA, The Humane Society of the United States, PetSmart Charities, Farm Sanctuary, and United Animal Nations. She serves on the board of advisors for Faunalytics and Institute for Humane Education and has spoken at numerous animal protection conferences.