Motivating people to take action is an important part of advocacy. To further a mission it is important to effectively connect with a diverse audience via intentional strategies. Make it straightforward and simple for people to act on your message and spread the word.
1. Limit Options
- More choices can make your audience feel less confident in their decision
- Less choices lead to more satisfaction and your audience is more likely to take action
- Stick to the rule of three
Example: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
2. Appeal to Identity
- Speak to people’s wants and needs
- People believe they have a responsibility based on their membership in a common group
- Make it personal!
Example: Don’t Mess with Texas
3. Get Specific
- People don’t respond well to vague and overarching claims
- Use specific examples to prove general conclusions
- Establishes credibility and promotes memorability
Example: “We care about our customers” vs. “Extending opening hours for your convenience”
4. Reward Behavior
- Find ways to personally thank people that have taken steps toward your goal
- Show concrete evidence that what they are doing has an impact
- Rewarding repeated behavior helps to develop habits
Example: Rewards cards at stores
5. Provide an Action Plan
- People respond better to clear and detailed language
- Tell them exactly what to do and don’t leave out critical details
- Show the specific impact of their action (make it quantifiable if possible)
Example: Studies found that more college students donated to a food bank when provided with a map to get there.
6. Appeal to Group Mentality
- People don’t want to be the first one to act
- People are more likely to act if they know people have done it before them
- Use testimonials, case studies, numbers
Example: “In a typical month, nearly 2 million volunteers contribute more than eight million hours of their time.” – Bob Aiken, CEO of Feeding America
7. Consider Convenience
- How far out of their way will people have to go to meet your request?
- Consider ways that you can work to meet people’s needs in a way that is convenient for them. Limit the effort they will have to make to meet your request.
Example: College donation programs placed bins right outside student dorms to collect items. This simple change required minimal effort from the student.
8. Speak to Audience’s Worldview
- Absolutistic View (Seek order, strong faith in higher power)
- Oppertunistic View (Take advantage of the system, ends justify means)
- Humanistic View (More to life than money, importance of treating others well)
- Systemic View (intersection between doing good and their own success)
The following questions can be useful in analyzing the impact of your message
- Have you provided the appropriate amount of options?
- Did you connect your message to your audience’s identity?
- Is your message understandable and specific?
- Did you provide an incentive for people to take action?
- Did you provide a detailed action plan?
- Have you shown that they are one of many to follow your message?
- Did you consider the needs and limitation of your audience?
- Did you consider the values of your audience?