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Lessons Learned - Politics & Business

A week ago last night my daily involvement in a political campaign with Cowboy 1 Desmund Adams concluded. After 17 months of our work dedicated to media, communications, policy, public events, video, photography, design, voter outreach, social media…we lost.  Desmund lost by over 1,400 votes to a guy who had campaigned for 34 days. Now, while that sounds like a bunch it really was not.  Our opponent had a 5,000 voter registration edge on us.

I learned some things from this adventure that may be helpful to the business world or for those of you considering a political future.  Here is a quick list:

  • Work vs. Money – While we all say we value hard work going into something underfunded is a death blow.  In 34 days our opponent outraised and outspent us by nearly 4 to 1.  Deep pockets trumps hard work it would seem;
  • Stay Simple – Our campaign worked over seven key issues we believed were critical to the future of Iowa.  Meanwhile our opponent failed to utter a single original idea and kept true to his political party’s talking points.  There is a lesson here about detail me thinks;
  • Social Media & Facebook – If you have a business and you want to connect with potential customers use social media and promote by doing advertising on Facebook…it works;
  • Mass Media – Television works.  It’s that simple.  In the final weeks of the campaign our opponent spent thousands on television advertising.  While the ad was not very creative it was the only thing running;
  • Direct Mail…Sucks – We spent several thousand dollars on specifically directed mailings to selected special interest groups.  Our return was less than 1%...way less.  This has caused some re-thinking for our agency about the use of direct mail;
  • Relevant Message/Bad Timing – No matter how “important” you  think your product/service is trying to sell ideas during the Holiday Season is tough…very.
  • Winter Elections/Promotions -  In December it’s dark by 5PM finding a polling place, especially after redistricting was tough.  That brings to mind the timing of your promotion/event.  Getting people OUT after dark during the week?  Unless it’s a very social thing…nada;
  • Wednesday & Church – Not being a Christian I had this misdirected thought that Wednesday nights were like any other night.  Wrong.  Avoid Wednesday night events...especially if you are targeting women.

However difficult it was to lose it was a wonderful adventure and we were grateful for the experience.  I know that Desmund Adams is not finished with his dream to serve the citizens of Iowa…I’ll let you know where that leads all of us.



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