Finding Commonalities and Solutions With Decision-Makers
Highly educated, financially secure decision-makers who prioritize the economy and business strength, and favor limited government, represent the Economic Influenced archetype.
Description: Prioritize economic strength; favor limited government and personal freedoms; financially secure, highly educated; pragmatic; passionate about policy details.
Quote: “What is the effectiveness of existing programming? There are lots of programs. Do we have the data to know what is working?”
Freedom, autonomy, individual choice
Efficiency of small government
Originality, innovation, addressing problems (public-private solutions)
Tradition, order, autonomy and sovereignty of family unit (parental decision-making)
Motivated By: Helping people become self-sufficient.
How to Approach:
Approach the issue from a limited government and personal responsibility perspective.
Be straightforward, clear, and succinct, while staying open to discussion.
Remember that progressive language can feel “virtue signaling.” Be flexible, negotiate, and find common ground.
Free market advocates
Select mainstream media
Data and examples of success
Approach to PN-3 Issues: Data driven, need to understand ROI.
Approach to Local Decision-Making: Believe in small, limited government and reducing government spending, which is the basis of their concern over local policy-making.
Economic Influenced decision-makers are passionate about discussing the details of a policy, especially the data and numbers supporting it, to fully understand its costs, benefits and return on investment.
Economic Influenced decision-makers advocate for small and limited government, believing government alone is inefficient and ineffective for solving problems. Concerns about fraud and waste within government programs are common, and they believe in reducing spending where possible. Proposals where government is the solution will not be well received (e.g., large government investments for child care). Economic Influenced decision-makers are more open to proposed solutions with blended approaches that engage employers, families and nonprofits as well as government.
“There is an element of personal responsibility that you have to at least acknowledge. Conservatives want self-actualization policies. You need to say that people want to have happy lives and make good decisions, and we can help them do that, but that there also needs to be an element of accountability.” — State director, conservative political organization, male, early 40s, urban
The family unit — and its freedom — is essential. In policy conversations, it can be helpful to show how proposed solutions offer choice and diverse delivery options that can remove barriers for families to maximize their own personal choices. Describing programs as flexible and voluntary, not universal, signals flexibility and choice.
“A focus on and access to prenatal care is very critical. But I would qualify that: Their choice of prenatal care. A government-prescribed approach to health care does not rank high. Universal preschool is an example of what would be harmful — it can lead to government dependency. The early years should be focused on the family and that family’s choice, whether it be getting vaccinations or attending pre-K.” — Former state representative and state senator, male, 58, suburban
Free market advocates
Select economic-focused mainstream media, such as The Wall Street Journal or Financial Times (not The New York Times)
Data that make the economic case for what happens if an action is taken or not taken
Evidence that existing policies and programs are working. “What is the effectiveness of existing programming?” asks a 45-year-old male president and CEO from a conservative professional association in a suburban area. “There are lots of programs. Do we have the data to know what is working? Generational poverty is the hardest and most important thing to break, and the programs aren’t fixing it.”
Data and details. Economic Influenced decision-makers focus on quantifiable and tangible outcomes of solutions as well as data, numbers and other details to support them. Details about how well programs have worked in the past in similar geographies can be very helpful. A male in his early 40s, a state director of a conservative political organization from an urban area, suggested this approach: “First, you need to build an economic case — what happens if we do this versus don’t do this. Use data. Second, appeal to conservative decision-makers’ desire to protect unborn children and keep the family unit intact — if we can remove some of the stress and anxiety and uncertainty that impacts people’s decisions, we can also impact these two values.”TIP
You may want to share that independent evaluators found that the child tax credit, expanded in 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic, was an effective tool for reducing child poverty.
Confirmation that an initiative will not increase the size and scope of government involvement. This archetype wants to reduce “bloat” and simplify how governments are involved in their constituents’ lives; they support policies that help create limited government. Programs perceived as expanding dependency on government supports and/or requiring expanding funding and resources are generally nonstarters.
“ … It’s complex. Limited government really is the answer on the conservative side. Overreach by the state goes against the concept of limited government.” — State representative, male, 57, urban/suburban
Responsibility and solutions that go beyond government. It is important to acknowledge the Economic Influenced decision-maker’s desire for efficiency and limited government as well as a strong belief in personal responsibility. “If you lead with a government-only solution, conservatives will be put off by that,” said a male in his early 40s who is a state director of a conservative political organization from an urban area. “But if you lead with ‘Everyone has a lift in this’ you will be met with agreement. I would say: ‘We need a baseline of safety nets provided by the government, but additional support must come from the community.’”
Focus on establishing a common ground and vision. Economic Influenced decision-makers are among the most likely to invite conversation. Use this open invitation to establish a common goal, recommends a male in his early 40s who is a state director of a conservative political organization from an urban area. “Is this what we all want?” he asks. “Yes. So how do we get there? We have to find the shared principles. I do not ask them to change their principles. I ask them, ‘From your perspective with the principles that you hold, is there a solution that we could create to solve this problem?’”
Economic Influenced decision-makers are pragmatists who care. Economic Influenced decision-makers are open to discussions, not lectures. Approach the conversation assuming best intentions and mutual concern. “The biggest turnoff is when people come in with the mindset that they care and you don’t,” said a 45-year-old male president and CEO of a conservative professional association from an urban/suburban area. “To recognize that you are across the table from someone who wants to make the world better and their life experience has brought them to a reasonable conclusion on issues — now let’s talk.” And while economic indicators are important, acknowledge that their desire for strong families drives their focus on effective, efficient solutions.
Implementing solutions is complex. Talk about the power of investing where the need is greatest. “Broad statements about solutions for all brush over the complexities of actually doing it for all,” said a female in her 60s, president of a state GOP organization from a suburban area. “Billions of dollars have been thrown at these problems. We need to look at the history of what has been attempted. There is too much waste.”
They’re willing to consider each issue individually. One state representative noted, “I think it is possible to find common ground in a lot of places … We may disagree on the final solution but let’s at least have the conversation.”