Effective Supporter Communication
Submitted by Dan Grice on Tue, 05/11/2010 - 2:06pm
While there are perhaps thousands of ways to communicate to your supporters, ask for volunteers, or write a fundraising letter, one of the most tried and true formulas is known as the Munroe Motivating Sequence.
Developed in the 1930s by a fellow named James Munroe who was a professor of psychology at Purdue University, the Munroe Motivating Sequence is a 5 step formula that has become the basic for any basic public speaking class and can be used in any activity or communication meant to persuade involvement or activism.
This formula is generally aimed at identified supporters who already support your cause (it is meant to persuade rather than to convince or argue) and is designed as a method to call your supporters to action. It can be used in speeches, paper letters, or of course emails to supporters which I will focus on here.
The basic 5 steps are:
- Grab your audience's attention.
- Establish a basic need.
- Satisfy the need.
- Visualize the need.
- Call to action.
This is a simple process and often involved repetition of important details. For instance the call to action (5) often repeats satisfying the need (3), and the visualization (4) is typically a more detailed version of the need (2).
In an email communication, both step 3 and 5 may include a link (and sometimes even the same link or a similar one) to an additional volunteer or fundraising form. Keep your email specific and focussed on the issue at hand. Most people will rarely read more than the first two lines (and sometime only the subject) so get to your point quite quickly and expand on it later.
Also, keep in mind that a relevant and simple subject line is important for even getting your email opened.
This is a general idea:
Wake up, this email is worth reading and with this first line I'm
looking to get your attention and make a connection. (Get their
My second paragraph is going to let you know why I'm sending you this
email and what I want. I'm not going to give you all of the details
or what I want you to do, but I'm going to outline a success, a
challenge of some sort of need we have. (Establish the need.)
I'm going to put an action item or need right here with a link. You
don't need to read the rest of the mail if I have already convinced
you. (This is where I let you know how to satisfy the need.)
After this, I'm going to convince you by outlining the benefits,
further describing the problem, or giving you enough of an anecdote
that will try to get you to yes is you are not already there.
This is where I am going to do the call to action. It may re-say the
action item above or it may list a few options (call to action.)
To see how this can be used in terms of an actual communication, look at this sample from a recent provincial referendum campaign in BC:
Dear XXXX --
Are you ready to “POWER UP YOUR VOTE”?
It has been a busy week at campaign headquarters for the BC-STV campaign. We have ordered 10,000 lawn signs, and have buttons, shirts and bumper stickers that will be arriving within the next week.
It is going to be a big task to get this sign outs and get materials, and we will need to have teams ready to go on April 12th, ready to get up signs across the province.
** Satisfy the need:
Please let us know if you are able to help deliver signs and materials in your community.
** Visualization / Further Details
Last time around the vote was extraordinary close, but the campaign did not have a vis-ual presence. Imagine this campaign, with BC-STV lawn signs on major boullevards and on lawns across the province. In the last campaign, we found that people who knew about the referendum in advance were over 70% in favour.
** Take action:
Please email your friends and talk to your neighbours to see if they would want a lawns sign.
Barack Obama's presidential campaign used a similar formula:
Your name --
In the next 36 hours, the McCain campaign will be pouring millions of dollars -- if not tens of millions -- into negative attack ads against Barack Obama.
Before John McCain accepts the Republican nomination on Thursday, his campaign has to spend every last dollar of primary funds they've raked in from Washington lobbyists and special interest PACs.
Just yesterday, they aired a new negative ad in 14 swing states. His campaign manager even admitted that all McCain has to rely on is attacks, saying that for them, "This election is not about issues."
He doesn't want Americans to notice that the Republican platform is the most extreme we've ever seen -- opposing stem cell research, denying a woman's right to choose no matter what the circumstance, and continuing to spend $10 billion a month in Iraq.
**Satisfy the need**
With so much at stake, we can't allow another election to be determined by petty and divisive political tactics.
Make a donation of $5 or more to fight back against an unprecedented week of negativity from John McCain.
** Visualization **
The McCain campaign is trying to distract voters from the real issues -- so we're going to focus on what they're trying to hide.
They've come out against the life-saving possibilities of stem cell research.
They don't even mention protecting equal pay for equal work.
They support huge tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of Americans.
They've almost completely ignored the $10 billion we're spending every month in Iraq.
And they make zero exceptions for a woman's right to choose -- even in cases of rape, incest, or to protect the life of the mother.
If that all sounds like more of the same, that's because it is. John McCain is offering a third term of the disastrous Bush agenda, so it's no wonder his campaign would choose to focus on attacks instead of issues.
** Call to Action **
Please make your donation of $5 or more today:
I know we've asked a lot from supporters like you recently, and many of you contributed just last week.
But the stakes are high, and there are less than 9 weeks before Election Day. It's going to require unprecedented resources to defeat John McCain and bring about the change America so desperately needs.
Thank you for all you do,
Feel free to experiment..
Keep in mind that this is a logical ordering of your ideas and different groups may have different variations. Repeating a link twice in an email is likely to increase the click through for those reading some of your email as well as those reading all of your email. In fact, on many fundraising emails, a third link with a simple (donate) button can be found at the bottom of the email to once again reinforce it.
It is usually better to try and keep your first few lines short, so that people can see the first call to action link without much reading. Very few people actually read entire emails or web pages unless you really hook them in. If your still reading this, I know I've already done my job!
Remember, you can hold back information and encourage people to follow a link to get more information. Once someone follows a link or takes a simple action, they become a much more valuable engaged supporter. (Google makes its money from people who click on advertisements, rather than just those who see them.)
TRACK YOUR COMMUNICATIONS
Pretty much any online newsletter program (CiviCRM, Campaigner, Constant Contact, Campaign Monitor) will give organization the ability to monitor the success of your email letter. They will give often give you results such as how many people opened your email or who clicked through. The statistics regarding who opened your email are not always accurate as many email clients limit the ability to track whether an email is opened.
However, the most important item to track is who actually clicks on any of your links. These are the supporters whose attention you have got and who care enough to read more than two lines of your email. The more supporters who click through on your links, the more effective your communication is.
There are additional methods to effectively communicate. Where you have your supporters names, use them at the start of the email so it seems more personalized.
Some groups even track their supporters interests, so they can ensure their emails are extra relevant.
If you are organizing rallies and have your contacts address, many mass email programs have the ability to use additional information about your contacts such as their city which can be automatically referenced in the email to encourage them to have a local event.
Lastly, always remember that this is a persuasive email from you to your supporter. While it may be a mass email, you should always write your email as though you were writing to a single person.
Include words such as "You can help" or "Thanks for your support in the past". The more personal an email feels, the more likely you are to solicit a response.
In activism, politics, or any area of persuasion, it is always the one to one connection that will put you over the edge. Know your audience and address them.