Today’s tip is a reminder of the importance of the first P of marketing–-your Product (see page 14 of the TELE workbook).
A very smart Broadway producer once said to me (and I’m paraphrasing): “I can think of many good shows that have failed due to poor promotion; but I don’t know of any bad shows that have done well due to brilliant marketing.” He may have been overstating the case, but the point is that “bad” products are a much harder sell than good ones.
For us social change agents, the Product is the behavior that we’re trying to encourage among our audience members. So, if your outreach doesn’t yield the desired result, be aware that the problem may lie with your communication objective, i.e. the action you’re asking landowners to take.
We see this problem frequently for two common landowner actions—workshops and management plans. Many programs use these as “first steps” in their efforts to engage landowners. But they are not always a good fit.
For example, a workshop on planting native trees correctly may do the trick with traditional “working lands” owners, but may not work for wealthy, urban, absentee owners. You may do better by meeting with those owners individually or in small groups at a local winery, getting them enthused about restoring native habitats, and giving them a list of vetted contractors to plant the trees and care for the saplings till they take hold.
Similarly, while there is value in having a holistic management plan, the time and effort required to get a plan may actually discourage landowners from taking any specific actions, like reducing invasives or thinning a stand. In this case, you may be better off first encouraging them to reduce invasives rather than going through the process of obtaining a management plan. Helping them initiate this first management action can open the door for them to understand the importance of a management plan in the future.
The point of this post is not to disparage workshops or management plans. I’m simply encouraging you to consider the best “entry point” to engage your target audiences to achieve your conservation goals.