How to Campaign a Campaign: 7 Steps for Better Political Promotional Campaigns
More than 20 years ago, before we started Clothpromotions, we were the very first supplier to use microfiber cloths as business cards. In 2000, we conceptualized using microfiber cloths as promotional items—Opper Fiber, which happened to be for a political campaign.
The 2016 presidential candidates have spent millions of dollars on promotional products so far. That is just one campaign: A total of 469 seats are currently up for reelection in the U.S. Congress, and there are hundreds, if not thousands, of additional local and national political races occurring this year.
There has never been a better time to market your services and expertise to political candidates. Just like in politics, strategy is everything. Here are seven ways to bring in the dollars while bringing out the vote.
1. Research, Research, Research
The first step is to understand the demographics of the candidate’s potential voters. It’s best to consider a variety of factors, including age, education level, religion and income. This is effectively the candidate's political stance in representing his or her constituency and will assist determining the most effective and targeted promotional campaign.
2. Proactive Planning
This is the fun part! The planning stage recognizes the demographics and discovers how best to present the message, ideally using a concise, memorable slogan. A good plan breaks down your key tasks and sets goals. Our aim is to educate the candidate and campaign manager about the product, and make suggestions that benefit the campaign. Be able to identify how your product choices provide solutions.
3. Budget and Quality
It’s all about the money! It is important to identify the promotion's budget and develop a product or idea deck prior to meeting with the campaign manager. Focus on promotional items that will get the candidate the highest exposure with the best cost per impression. Quality and standout items are paramount, as they represent the candidate and will set you apart. Focus on items with a good cost per impression, such as our Opper Fiber cleaning cloths, which can get up to 10 exposures per day, to help spread your client’s dollar and message further.
4. Curate the Product
Promotional items are crucial in political campaigns. Working with specialized suppliers that can provide unique ideas may give you that edge while your competition is looking to cheap, mass-produced items. Identify and develop a product deck using the campaign’s slogans on each item you pick for the campaign. Imagine supporters standing in a large crowd in the middle of a rally, all waving and wearing a CoolFiber cooling towel covered in campaign slogans. Choose items that are functional and act as billboards. Developing artwork for the products you have picked shows you are a partner in the campaign and invested in its success.
5. Consult, Don't Sell
Distributors are able to develop long-term relationships with candidates and campaigns. Candidates should utilize your knowledge of products and services. The greatest error most distributors make is constantly attempting to sell promotional products. This decreases the true value you have to offer. You are a promotional products specialist. Use your experience, portfolio, industry contacts and creativity to present concepts and items that are perfect for that campaign. Unique items that stand out from more common campaign merchandise will showcase your value as a consultant who thinks outside of the box. Anyone can sell. Demonstrate your uniqueness through your ideas.
6. Present the Product Deck
Once you have curated and developed the budget, products and pricing, use a slideshow or create a full-color PDF to present a product deck to the candidate and campaign manager. Present your clients' artwork and slogans on items, rather than generic sample art. The product deck is an excellent marketing strategy to help identify you as the campaign's product specialist and exponentially increase the possibility of a sale.
You’ve done your homework well, they love your ideas and the price is right. Now focus on how and where to distribute the campaign's promotional products. Discuss with the campaign organizers how best to use volunteers to give away items and which items will fit best with each event. Don’t just focus on political rallies, but don’t forget about other distribution methods. Direct mail is still the single most personal manner of reaching households, and coupling promotional items with direct mail can be very effective.
Clothpromotions’ Direct Cloth Mailer hand delivers campaign literature to the recipient’s front door. This is the time to look at how your product is being received and interpreted, and revise your distribution approach if necessary. This goes back to step No. 1: Knowing your client’s demographics will help you to better target your distribution.
Nov. 8 is three months away, so now is the time to start talking with campaigns about what you can offer. Good luck and happy promoting!