Discovering the Activation Point
"Activation requires motivation: the audience must have the will to act." This tidbit is from Kristen Grimm's report Discovering the Activation Point. Any progressive group out there who has been struggling with their campaign, even though public support for it is high, needs to read this report. At the most recent PCDC monthly gathering, Kristen (who is president of Spitfire Strategies, which produced the extremely effective http://www.smartchart.org/) talked about her key findings from her work developing this report:
No matter what issue campaign you are running, your audience is probably smaller than you think. Don't just reach out to everyone. Really think about who your audience is. Then think about who the leaders are in that group and also who will influence the ultimate decision makers. Once you have the right people, you need to figure out what will make them take an action - this is the activation point.
There are three stages of activation to take note of. The first stage is sharing knowledge. People need to know, care and believe about a cause in order to act. Give them the simple facts, but in a way that reflects their values and also respects them - don't label them as activists or advocates, because they may not see themselves in this light. Make what the issue personal to them: the issue needs to be personally relevant and they need to feel personally connected and involved. There also needs to be a personal reward. Make them believe in the cause via trust and experience - facts and data won't always sway someone when they have their own personal experiences as a counter weight. Persuasian is the key here: don't think of persuasian as manipulation, but as the way to get people in your corner and acting.
Information is not persuasian - once you've gone through the first step of sharing knowledge, you need to think about the next steps. The next steps it to build will. To do so, you need to anticipate any barriers - people are afraid of being laughed, they may not have time, or they don't want to act outside of their comfort zone. With this in mind, show them a leader taking action for your cause - your audience will be more receptive if they see the action as a social norm and something doable. Don't pose it to them as an alternative, but as a smart option.
The third stage of activation is reinforcing the action. You can't simply tell your supporters to act and then give them no reinforcement. They want to feel like they accomplished something, no matter how small. Celebrate any wins no matter how big they are. Revisit past successes so that your audience can see that the actions they take do matter. Congratulate your supporters for a job well done. All of this reinforcement will benefit you - these supporters will be compelled to help your cause a second, third or forth time if they know that what they do matters in the long run.
Some other things to think about that Kristen mentioned...Don't get stuck in stage one. If you have been there for awhile, you need to re-evaluate how you are sharing knowledge about your campaign. Also remember to take advantage of any good timing - if something happens that can raise the awareness of your campaign, jump on that and get your supporters to act.
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To view a webcast that features Kristen Grimm of Spitfire Strategies discussing the Activation Point, go to:
Posted by: Bruce Trachtenberg at Apr 6, 2007 3:34:16 PM