This case study was first published at polleverywhere.com.
Jason O’Rouke is the Senior Director of Public Policy and Federal Affairs for the Georgia Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber’s goal: prioritize efforts on those issues that are of the utmost concern to Georgia’s business community.
How do you gather actionable feedback from busy Georgia business owners?
After about two years on the job, Jason was frustrated with the old methods the Chamber was using to gather feedback from their audience on important policy issues.
Those methods included live calling and a ton of emails, which produced a frustratingly small return. After sending about 30,000 emails, the Chamber was lucky to get 250 responses.
That’s not the sort of data set the Chamber can use to influence major policy decisions. For a task that important, the Chamber needs more feedback and deeper analysis to make a compelling case to persuade policy makers.
They had just finished using the main survey, so the learning curve was gone.Jason O’Rouke
Use polling to gather feedback while you already have their attention
The Chamber’s top leadership decided to go straight to the source, organizing townhalls across the state in a major visioning effort. Georgia 2030, as the events came to be known, consisted of about 25 townhall meetings all over the state. The audience: the thousands of Georgia businesses whose interests the Chamber represents.
Each event was about an hour long, with an average audience size of 100 to 150, but some ballooned to as many as 500 Georgia business owners.
The Chamber started with general questions, then got more specific about policy. In the last round of feedback, they drilled down to focus on concerns that directly impact policy.
The Chamber CEO started the event with a short PowerPoint on state issues like changing demographics, job predictions and the general state of the Georgia economy. Then the polling kicked in with specific questions like how to close the insurance gap in the state or how many favored a state-wide minimum wage increase.
Transform live feedback into actionable results
After the general polling, the Chamber would hold focus groups on relevant topics like healthcare and education, pulling passionate business owners from those focus groups to get further feedback.
With those customers already engaged, Jason focused on explicitly asking Chamber members where policymakers should be focusing their efforts. Later, he compared that data with data that had already been collected from the general public. That’s an important step with big ramifications.
Jason gave a solid example. “Say you have a group of business owners who are 95 percent opposed to minimum wage increases, but a majority of the general public supports it. That changes your strategy knowing that you’re fighting an uphill battle with voters, but your membership is all-in on that fight.”
Back at the Chamber, Jason had a robust data file that represented the collective opinion of over 2,000 business owners in Georgia. The Chamber could then use the data they collected to more effectively weigh in on public policy initiatives. Those efforts might shape the Chamber’s efforts for as many as five to fifteen years to come.
After the townhall, some intrigued chamber members approached Jason, all asking a variant of the same question: “We’re having a board meeting soon, and we want to use something like this. What was that service again?”
It’s Poll Everywhere.
Our staff could take what we found back to leadership and say, “This is what business owners care about. This is … our number one priority for the next five years.”Jason O’Rouke