4 steps to stakeholder mapping success

Jan 19, 2020 | Stakeholder

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Do you know what stakeholder mapping is?

Do you have a stakeholder map for your membership organisation?

Do you think one would be useful?

I ask as an associate rang me last week to ask for my advice as she was asked to analyse audiences and she remembered me waxing lyrical about how useful, but under-utilised, stakeholder mapping is for membership organisations.

This is a summary of the guidance I gave her …

Stakeholder Mapping

My definition: “A visualisation and analysis of who an organisation needs to persuade to ‘do’ something.  This can be direct persuasion or via others who influence those you need to persuade.”

Stakeholder mapping can be as complicated or as simple as you like – search Google Images for Stakeholder Map and you will see exactly what I mean.  My preference is to veer towards simple so that you have the greatest chance of everyone who needs to understand the stakeholder map … being able to!

Membership organisations need to communicate with a wider group than just people with the label of ‘member’ to satisfy their raison d’etre / justify subscriptions.

  • do you know who these people / groups are?
  • do you know why you need to communicate with them?
  • how frequently?
  • how much of a ‘stake’ do they have in your organisation?

A stakeholder map will answer all of these questions … and more … and make your communication more effective.

The 4 steps to stakeholder mapping (I.S.E.E)

The aim of stakeholder mapping is to identify the different groups of stakeholders for your organisation to determine who you need to communicate with, how frequently, and with what messaging in order to persuade them to do what it is you want them to do.  What you want them to do could be: join your organisation, attend an event, sign up to training, do CPD; upgrade their membership; understand an initiative; make a pledge, etc.

The theory stands regardless of what you want to achieve.  It is how you apply the information you gather and analyse which comes into play for the ‘persuading’ part.

I.  Identify top-level stakeholders, e.g. members, staff, civil servants, politicians, associated organisations

II.  Segment the top-level to make the information more meaningful, e.g. levels of membership, engaged/non-engaged members, permanent / contract staff, senior / junior roles, specific internal departments, MPs / local councillors, specific constituencies/ wards, other membership organisations, charities, NGOs, community groups, specific interest groups.

III.  Establish their levels of interest and influence.  I find it useful to slot them into this grid.

IV.  Engage – prioritise the stakeholders to determine their level of engagement.  Add the following four labels to your grid (download your own template of a Stakeholder Map – opens a Word document): Keep satisfied, Keep engaged, Keep informed, and Keep interested.

To determine how you should best engage each stakeholder group, apply the thinking below to the groups in each quadrant:

  • High Influence / Low Interest – communicate and engage enough so they are satisfied their voices are being heard on key issues.  Avoid low value contact so they do not lose interest in the project (KEEP SATISFIED)
  • High Influence / High Interest – these need to be fully engaged and lots of effort made to satisfy their concerns and requirements for information.  These will be valuable advocates. (KEEP ENGAGED)
  • Low Influence / Low Interest – monitor these stakeholders closely and keep them informed, with minimal effort. Do not overload with excessive communications or needless information (KEEP INFORMED)
  • Low Influence / High Interest – keep these stakeholders regularly informed to maintain their interest. Monitor any issues or concerns that may arise and respond (KEEP INTERESTED)

Have you produced the best Stakeholder Map?

The perfect stakeholder map does not exist and whatever you produce as part of this exercise will change … over time.

You need to appreciate the adage “Rubbish In. Rubbish Out” as the quality of the stakeholder map you produce is directly in proportion to the people you speak with to create it.

Your stakeholders will change over time, and will vary from project-to-project / campaign-to-campaign.  Don’t create a stakeholder map and religiously stick to it … as you will come unstuck.

5 top tips when stakeholder mapping

  1. Be clear on the end goal?  What do you need to achieve?  Keep this in mind when identifying who needs to be ‘persuaded’.
  2. Pull together a brainstorm team of people within your organisation from every aspect of the project / product / service / campaign under consideration.  Get the team to identify who they think has a ‘stake’.  At this stage, no idea / suggestion is a bad one.
  3. Once you have what you believe is a definitive list of stakeholder groups, get someone outside this team to sense-check the identified groups.
  4. Establishing which stakeholder groups are high interest, high influence, low interest, low influence takes some serious thought.  Put yourself in their shoes and consider what you would think if you received information on the product / service / campaign.  Excited? Motivated?  Bored?  Uninterested?  Would you tell others about the ‘thing’?  Would they then be motivated?  Bored?  Uninterested?
  5. Consider what could be the tactics you use to reach the four parts of your stakeholder map to determine if the individuals groups are in the right box / classification.
    • Keep Satisfied – include in existing meetings, presentations
    • Keep Engaged – personal briefings, workshops
    • Keep Informed – minimal effort, i.e. no specific communication, incidental via third parties
    • Keep Interested – newsletters, posters, flyers

What next?

Once you have finalised stakeholder mapping you need to do something with it – this sounds obvious but once you have created it, don’t just shut the map in a draw and forget it … make sure you use and revisit it along your strategic journey.  The map is the basis for your PR / Communications / Marketing strategy and gives you a concrete base on which to establish:

  • who needs to be reached
  • how frequently
  • the level of messaging
  • how to reach them

I guarantee (a strong word to use, but this approach works for me) that your strategy will be easier to write, more engaging, and … dare I say it … more effective, because of the legwork you put in to the stakeholder map up-front.  It’s a win-win … you ‘win’ as you have more knowledge of who you need to reach so your communication is not wasted.  The people you need to reach ‘win’ as you are more aware of the type of information they need and how you need to communicate with them.

Creating the map makes you examine your stakeholders to understand their motivations, concerns, interest and level of influence … all the factors you need for your PR / communications strategy to be successful.

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