Monday, March 28, 2011

Lobby by Acknowledging Opposing Views

There are times when you as an individual retailer or member of a retailer coalition want to influence the political process. Politicians are consumers, so the tools of influence derived from consumer psychology findings can help.
     A current case study for this dynamic is the effort of Walmart Stores to open a little shop in New York City. Well, a little shop, considering that it would be about 30,000 square feet rather than, say, the average 180,000 square feet of a Walmart Supercenter.
     The effort to get a NYC store is by no means new. A number of years ago, Walmart retreated from the drive to open stores in Queens and Staten Island because of the thoroughgoing political opposition.
     What would attitude change experts advise to Walmart in their situation and to you in situations where you want to influence politicians? Research findings from University of Illinois and Northwestern University indicate that when lobbying, the retailer should be sure to acknowledge opposing points of view.
  • Respect the heartfelt beliefs behind what often shows itself as overly emotional demonstrations. Walmart acknowledged that they were seen as environmentally unfriendly and as an exploitive employer. A recent New York Times article points out how Walmart offered maternity leave and pressured their product suppliers to cut down on pesticide use.
  • Specifically mention as many of the arguments of your opponents as you can, and give your counterarguments. You might be concerned that in doing this, you’re bringing up points of view damaging to your case—points of view the politicians wouldn’t have thought of otherwise. The research evidence is that this isn’t the case. You’ll have more credibility with the politicians and earn their appreciation when you equip them to better respond to the objections they’ll encounter.
  • Engage in debates that the politicians can see. The research punctured a couple of other myths about this. First, it’s commonly thought that with people already convinced of your point of view, bringing up the opposing opinions won’t build your credibility further. But in fact, it does, with the result that it helps inoculate your supporters against subsequent attitude change. Second, it’s often thought that balanced arguments will confuse people who have limited education about the issue. The truth is that these people usually process what they can from what you say. The two-sided presentations help clarify rather than confusing the listeners.
Click below for more:
Restrain Your Overreaction to Criticism
Encourage Balanced Customer Reviews
Make Your Product Reviews Credible

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