We’ve talked about how effective lobbyists understand the nature of what they’re selling in Washington, D.C.. They identify the intent (action vs. inertia), the scope (controversial or note), the importance (must do vs. may do) and the timeframe (short vs. long term). In the last couple posts I talked about intent and scope. In this one we’ll look at importance.
Now sure, every idea (especially yours) is important. But, let’s face it, some decisions are more immediately necessary than others. However, with the right strategy these “must do soon” decisions can be some of the easiest to influence.
Take the example of government responses to natural disasters. They tend to generate a fair amount of lobbying activity outside the scope of the natural disaster because special interests know that THIS legislation will move quickly, unlike 96% of the bills introduced in a year. In 2006, for example, when the U.S. Congress passed emergency legislation to help provide additional assistance to victims of Hurricane Katrina, the bill included billions of dollars for other totally unrelated programs, like research into the threats from “bird flu” as well as farm bailouts. Lobbyists and special interests saw these bills as opportunities to move their priorities because they were “must do” decisions. No legislators wanted to be against relief to victims of Hurricane Katrina, so they agreed to overlook the other items.
For your own influence situation, consider whether the decision is “must do” or “may do.” Does the decision maker desperately need what you’re selling right away? Or is it the kind of situation where it would be “nice” for them to buy your product, service or time? Are there other “must do” decisions coming down the pike that you can attach your issue to? Knowing the answers to these questions will help you develop a winning advocacy strategy.