What learnings can my company take from the US election campaign?

Published on November 16th, 2020 for College Green Group.

With the world fixated on the US election last week, many people have been asking me numerous questions about the procedure, strategy, law, and what I have gleaned about the American electorate from having lived there for four years. But the question I have been asked most often this week is a simple one, being: “How can my company use what you learned from the US election campaign?”. I have found that there are three main lessons that can be taken from the election itself.

The first is that a ruthless and precise focus on people that matter is integral. It goes without saying that in advocacy campaigns we don’t need to convince the world, we need to activate those people who will champion your position. The most important questions to consider are: “Who matters to your business?” and “What message do they need to hear to translate that message into votes?”. Our team is consistently undertaking market-led research to ascertain who needs to hear your message and how best to communicate that message, allowing your business to hit the ground running with clear and effective messaging that resonates with a receptive audience. 

Years of working in campaigning have shown us that the majority of campaigns can dramatically reduce their expenditure with better planning. This calls to mind the old maxim that half your budget is wasted but no one knows which half. We can assist in ensuring that your campaign remains on budget and that your allocated budget is used in an efficient manner. In our experience, we’ve also found that most campaigns do not have a single list of whom to target. This can be extremely detrimental in that there may be overlap and misused resources to communicate the same message to either the wrong people or those who are already in agreement. Campaign discipline, in planning, budgeting, and messaging is something that we bring to a project.

The second important lesson is to ensure that your message is appropriate for the social channel you are using. You have to know your medium and your audience, because as Marshall McLuhan said, “the medium is the message”. Important considerations include, what do you want people to circulate on slack, WhatsApp, and Teams to their colleagues, their friends and their families? Your brand will have many success points and we highlight the moment that you make your customer happy and make it widely known. Our research and know-how can be used to tap into those customer successes to ensure that your customer no longer whispers about the strengths of your brand, but instead, shouts to those that they influence.  We want to use our expertise to ensure that you can harness the magic “network” effect.

The third lesson that rings true following the US election is that it is extremely important to use all the channels available to you. Both election campaigns did an excellent job of finding those undiscovered and non-conventional channels. It is important to ask, “Are you using all the channels out there to reach your audience?”. It is very easy to become complacent and repeat the same formula, but the reality of campaigning in 2020 is that communication is constantly changing. We have discovered more ways of communicating and in some cases the billboards, newspapers, and Facebook ads are no longer the best or most efficient way of getting your position out to a captive audience. Those outlets may be quick and useful for a scattergun approach, but they will not access the entirety of your potential audience. We believe in a targeted approach where your advertisements inform your specific customer base. Your customers do many things on and offline, which means you now need to put resources into reaching them in those more hidden spaces. It can be as simple as telling people about your product on payday when they are more receptive to your campaign. We utilise these tools, both in the digital and non-digital space, to send your message. 

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