The similarities between great social marketing and great advocacy programs are more numerous than the differences. Once you get past the determinants and outcomes issue (is it behavioral determinants and change we are seeking to influence or social ones?), which is like arguing chicken and eggs or nature and nurture for my money, the approaches the best ones take are remarkably similar in targeting an audience for specific actions, uncovering the benefits and costs for action, delivering the program at the most appropriate time and place, and crafting a persuasive communications and promotion approach.
One behavior that advocates and upstream social marketers tend to be very interested in is moving certain groups or people, or specific individuals (an elected official or policymaker), to action. Even if you have social goals in mind, achieving them is pretty much impossible without changing the behavior of (at least) a few people. If you work in nonprofit and other settings where audience activation and advocacy are part of your strategic quiver, you will do well to check out Discovering the Activation Point.
Here's a sample of 8 points they make that will sound very familiar to social marketers:
- The target is likely smaller than you think.
- Ask the decision makers how many is enough to get their attention and change their behavior.
- Focus on those you can actually persuade.
- Segment audience targets until you can’t segment anymore.
- Target the audience(s) with the greatest influence over your decision maker.
- Find and activate social reference groups.
- Show strong public support by picking audiences that are willing to show (not just voice) their support.
- Test the activation point before launching a full-scale campaign.
The report is filled with more research-based insights that you can immediately apply to your social marketing, advocacy and WOM programs (for the commercial folks who check in here). They are framed with a set of strategic questions:
- Who do you need to persuade . . . to do what?
- What stage of persuasion is the audience in currently (build knowledge, build will or reinforce action)?
- What can be done to build the audience’s will to act?
- What barriers need to be overcome and how?
- When is the best time to persuade?
- Once your audience takes action, how do you reinforce that action?
Discovering the Activation Point presents a systematic and strategic approach to citizen engagement for social change that anyone in the world-changing business should have in their toolbox.