Influence Audits & Crossfire Research Message Testing

Association Influence Quotient Audit and Issue Management

The National Restaurant Association hired us to conduct several workshops with their state association staff to help them integrate numerous fundraising and issue management influence techniques. We also conducted an Influence Audit of their existing issue campaigns with recommendations to maximize their influence potential.

“Amy and Kelton's work was fantastic. The combination of their Influence Audit process and dynamic workshops (in fact, our members are still quoting Kelton's advice) enabled us to better frame our issues, and gives us an opportunity to be more proactive on future issues. We could tell our members' eyes were opened during this process -- they now think more strategically with a long-term view.”– Kelly Benedetti, Vice President State Relations and Grassroots, National Restaurant Association

Crossfire Research: Creating a New Message Narrative that Won a National Corporate Grassroots Campaign

A Fortune 300 company needed to overturn a 30-year law that prohibited their expansion into larger markets. Their opponent was a major industry competitor who outspent them 8 to 1 in advertising, lobbying, and grassroots advocacy. In addition, their opponent had been engaged in local, state and national organizations for thirty years longer than our client. While our client had lots of national, state, and local goodwill, and is consistently ranked as one of the best places to work, their opponent had deeper ties to the third-party groups that mattered in this influence campaign.

We recommended that they take a research-based approach to determine prevailing public attitudes toward their legislative goal, as well as attitudes toward their opponents. We employed the Crossfire technique, which revealed that the economic arguments frequently used by the company to persuade citizens and legislators, while accurate and compelling, did not test as favorably as the messages we uncovered. Our messages generated more public empathy and understanding, and successfully positioned them as “David” to their opponent’s “Goliath.”

We counseled the staff to integrate the new messages into all advertising, grassroots advocacy and legislative communications, and designed a narrative turn-key presentation for staff and employee ambassadors. They carried the story to community groups, which resulted in new surrogates and supporters.

The result? Our client’s legislation was passed, their customer volume is up 20% in the targeted markets, and the overall growth has moved their Fortune 500 ranking up 33 spots.

“Amy's counsel as we developed our program has had lasting results. In fact, a recent employee grassroots campaign on major federal legislation resulted in over 13,000 personal letters to Members of Congress, helping to save our company millions of dollars a year. Our achievement was recognized and lauded by our company leaders. I attribute this to the solid organizational foundation and implementation strategies that we learned from Amy.”– Susan Goodman, Director Legislator Awareness, Southwest Airlines

Crossfire Research: Methodology Results in Changed Direction of Long-Term Reform Issue

A coalition of business interests was trying to move forward a major reform issue with national implications. They worked closely with prominent think tanks and policy experts, but their message was not getting traction, as the national mood was decidedly against their position.

One of the project directors was a prominent expert on the issue, employed by one the top think tanks in the country and made numerous media appearances with their message. However, when the issue failed in the Congress, we were hired to test the main arguments used to sell their issue. Some were skeptical and wondered if we could find anything that wasn’t already known and hadn’t already been tried.

What our testing showed was the main arguments generally used to ‘sell’ their issue fared poorly, but several other arguments that were not in wide use tested magnificently. It highlighted how little traction the most frequently given arguments were getting. After testing over 160 message frames, the new arguments were performing at 15:1 and 17:1 strongly agree to strongly disagree ratios in favor of the client’s position.