Steps Toward Building Grassroots Support
December 6, 2017
Since the FDA hearing and the FTC workshop in 2015, the homeopathic industry has received more attention than usual from regulators. While AAHP continually meets with congressional leaders in Washington and works with both agencies, your association is also working to mobilize stakeholders.
It’s important for legislators to hear a cry of support for homeopathy early in the political process. That’s why AAHP is developing a program that educates and empowers our supporters. This will ensure better success than last-minute attempts to get letters sent to Capitol Hill.
As in any area of business, it’s essential to plan. AAHP is working on:
1. Identifying supporters
A database of individuals or groups with interests in homeopathy or a stake in the success of our industry is the cornerstone of this program, starting with our employees and customers. Customers include individual shoppers and patients as well as health care professionals and retailers. Interested parties also include shareholders, suppliers, and vendors.
The database must contain email addresses and zip codes for these supporters. Our goal is to target supporters based on their congressional district or other geographic characteristics. There are currently 435 districts throughout the United States, and the boundaries change according to the U.S. Census. If Representative Joe Smith is a key decision-maker on an issue relevant to our industry, we want to inspire his voters to contact him.
Additionally, we are identifying thought leaders who can compel others to action. These include educational institutions with students; other trade associations with members; mom groups; and influencers such as journalists, bloggers, and social media figures who support alternative medicine and personal freedoms. These influencers can share our message to their similarly-minded audiences. However, we will not attempt to script a response for these groups. Instead, we hope to discuss our messages along with their perspectives on the matter. Even if our message is not conveyed completely by the influencer to their audience, the fact that it is conveyed in their own voice may be more impactful.
2. Motivating supporters
It’s often difficult to motivate supporters to contact regulators or legislators for something that might happen in the future—especially when an issue is a complex business regulation. We hope to motivate supporters of homeopathic medicine by showing how an issue will affect them and what’s at stake. Furthermore, it’s essential to present easy-to-understand concepts that directly link the issue at hand to our consumers’ health, doctors’ right-to-choose treatments, or retailers’ sales, etc. This should explain why it’s necessary to get involved in the political process.
The industry might consider a website to help those interested in homeopathy understand the political process, encourage supporters to register to vote, and facilitate their involvement.
3. Your company’s support
AAHP will periodically email supporters of homeopathic medicine to either educate them on an issue or call them to action. Your company or organization can extend the AAHP’s reach by sending the same email to your database of customers and supporters. This will extend our reach, but we’ll keep your database private. Start working on a database now, and designate an employee to help with e-blasts.
4. Calling to action
Keep sight of the goal throughout the messages: inspire our supporters to voice concern to regulators. Walk them through specific actions they can take to bring about a change. Use clear calls to action, links, and landing pages to make it easy for them to write a letter, share news, or sign a petition.
Encourage supporters to keep their messages to regulators short and sweet. Comprehensive educational presentations are best left to our industry representative during in-person visits on Capitol Hill.
5. Measuring success
We will monitor the open rate of our emails and track the action level of respondents. For example, if Company A mails to a list of 10,000 supporters and Company B does the same in the same state or district, we can monitor the open rate and the number of supporters that took action on behalf of homeopathy.
AAHP is looking for a volunteer to help organize an industry-wide framework for a grassroots effort. The volunteer would work with staff across the industry to take inventory of supporters and create messages. Please contact Mark Land at Mark.Land@Boiron.com if you are interested in this exciting project or if you can suggest a staff member at your company.