Your Target’s Changed. Have You?

Adapting Your Advocacy Marketing for a 2021 Audience

Thursday, January 21, 2021

By: Greg Adams, Chief Executive Officer


By the time you read this article, our 46th President, Joseph R. Biden, Jr. will have already been inaugurated. This transition to a new administration has generated a lot, and I mean a lot, of discussion about how public affairs and advocacy-driven organizations should conduct their marketing outreach in 2021.

It’s become clear that when advocacy and public affairs leaders ask the question, “What’s next for marketing in 2021” the answer needs to include how we adapt our strategies to meet the political and behavioral shifts that have occurred.

We are above all relationship marketers, and successful relationships require listening to the needs of those we want to communicate with. Organizations that don’t do this will become the equivalent of that person at the party who doesn’t realize the subject’s changed—their voice is ultimately lost because their audience tunes them out.

So let’s do this right. Below, are the two important ways organizations can adapt their 2021 outreach to reflect the changing needs and behaviors of a 2021 audience.


1. React Strategically with a Targeted Crisis Communication Plan.

Today’s heated political climate means that our target audience is inundated with “urgent” communications throughout the day. Because of this, advocacy marketers need a crisis communications plan that prevents them from spinning their wheels trying to keep up. The best way to get started is by defining what your specific audience considers a crisis. Notice, I didn’t say “define what your organization considers a crisis.” This is an important distinction.

Invest in getting to know your target audience, whether it’s a grassroots movement or a group of PAC contributors, so you have a clear idea of what they value. Once you understand your audience, you can effectively define what they will consider to be a disruption and how they prefer to receive communications around it. This way you aren’t responding to every urgent, politically related event and instead are just focusing on the topics that are important to your target.

For example, when we put an outreach plan together for clients the first thing we do is to pull data to create a target audience profile. We may look at things like voter records, audience demographics, and psychographic behavior patterns. These insights help us to determine the medium, message, and design that will spur our client’s targets to action. This same process can help your organization to understand your crisis communication audience.


2. Embrace Digital Marketing and Stop Waiting for Business to Return to Normal.

We all spent a lot of time wondering when the pandemic would end and things could get back to normal in 2020. In the meantime, most of us in the advocacy world pivoted hard to adapt so we wouldn’t lose traction. Hill Days and in-person conferences were converted to virtual events. Dining room tables were cleared off to become remote grassroot campaign work spaces. But there was always this persistent, underlying idea that these were all things that we were doing “until things got back to normal and we could meet in real life again.”

Here’s the thing, they say it takes 60 days to lock in a habit and we’re on month 10 of the pandemic. Over the past 10 months our targets became accustomed to relying on their digital devices and that’s not likely to change once pandemic restrictions have been lifted. The good news is that this incredible rise in digital adoption has expanded the ability of advocacy marketers to reach targets and increased their willingness to engage with us online.

Putting a communication crisis plan in place and realizing that digital interactions are here to stay are two strategies that ACCESS believes are important moving forward. What changes has your organization noticed and how do you plan to adapt your outreach to meet the needs of your 2021 audience?

For the fourth year in a row, ACCESS Marketing Services was recognized by Campaigns & Elections, picking up four Reed Awards, including Best Use of Programmatic Advertising, Best Radio Ad, and two for Best Mail Piece.



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