You may not like their candidates or positions, but their promotions still got your interest. Here are some things their campaigns did right, to keep in mind the next time you’re thinking of reaching out to our members:
PLANNING & PRELIMINARY STEPS:
Set your goal first, everything follows from that.
What are you trying to accomplish? You’re not trying to win an election, but you may want people to sign up for an event or CLE. The strategy and plan are the tools of how you get there: they’re not the destination/goal itself.
Do your prep work.
Who’s your target audience? Who’s the competition? What differentiates your offering? What barriers might you face? How might you overcome them?
Don’t try to be all things to all people.
Political marketers know that even the strongest messages won’t move a certain number of recipients who aren’t open to your message. Don’t take it personally if someone’s not interested. Move on to those who are willing to hear your thoughts and ideas, those who are willing to accept your help and guidance.
Develop the messaging before deciding what tools to use.
Don’t use the bright shiny app just for the sake of doing so. Once you know what you want to say – and who you want to say it to – it’s easier to figure out what channels you’ll want/need to use. Don’t post just for the sake of posting: make it meaningful. Choose your words with precision. Copy length should be short, crisp, and direct. Put your main points first.
Figure out what winning looks like.
How do you know if you’re gaining ground? Political marketers spend as much – or even more – time determining the effectiveness of their messages. How are you going to measure the results of your efforts? How are you going to handle things if you need to change course mid-stream?
EXECUTING YOUR PLAN:
Don’t run (the ad, email, post, etc.) unless you have a chance to win (the attention or eyeballs). Be smart when, where and how you get the word out. If it won’t make a difference, it doesn’t need to go out. Be strategic and make the most of your budget.
When and where to send messages are strategic moves.
Timing and frequency of messages are key. Are your recipients at their offices these days? How do you know this? Are e-mail and social media better choices to reach them than direct mail? What if they’re on information overload?
The value of recommendations and quotes.
These are some of the most important tools in the political marketer’s toolbox and they’re also helpful for our member communications. Use these to leveraging connections and the power of influencers. Who would you be more quick to believe: a stranger or someone you know and admire?
Fact-check before publishing!
A typo is mostly just embarrassing; a lazy misstatement (because you forgot to doublecheck or ask the right questions) can be serious. Put together an approval process and use it.
Make it easy for your audience to take the next step.
Do you want them to give you their credit card? Sign up as a volunteer? Become your advocate? Use large, simple buttons and easy-to-remember links liberally.
Don’t publish exactly the same thing on each social media channel.
Each has its own posting style/convention that most users follow: be sure you follow it, too. But have a consistent look and feel across the platforms to unify your messages. Remember how many competing messages are out there and make sure that yours doesn’t get lost in the “digital noise.” Use links liberally. Make it easy for readers to share your content with others.
Know what to do if something goes wrong.
Published the wrong e-mail or phone number? Glaring typo? Sent to the wrong list? Odds are, it’s not fatal. Politicians have professional “fixers”, but you don’t have that luxury. How are you going to fix what you broke? If it’s very minor, is it better to ignore it than point out you made a mistake? When can a little error snowball into something much larger? Know when to push things up the organizational chart.
How else are you thinking like a political marketer? We want to know! Send me an email at Lsabean@nhbar.org
~ Lynne Sabean
Good Photography / Strong Images.
Think in focus, colorful, no distractions. People should look friendly and approachable, but still professional. There are a number of online sources for free and low-cost images, but you still need to observe copyrights. Easier yet, come by Marcomm and have us search our subscription service for you.
Political marketers frequently use the colors red, white, and blue to invoke feelings of patriotism and being “All American”. Consider using hues that also evoke a particular psychological response: calm, confidence, even outrage where it makes sense.
Don’t make your page design so cluttered that you’re making your audience work to figure out the point of it. Help them get to vital information as quickly as possible. This recommendation applies equally to print and web design.
Basic, familiar fonts in appropriate sizes. Ornamental or unusual fonts should be used sparingly (if at all) and only then for good reason. For the most part, font usage should be utilitarian.
Don’t overwhelm readers with a “sea of gray”. Consider adding:
- dividers (lines between paragraphs or columns)
- subheadings (lines of text underneath the headline that reinforce the main idea)
- pullquotes (quotes that jump out from the page or screen because they have a different, larger type treatment)
- drop caps (Capital letters that start a sentence or paragraph that can go 2-3 or more lines deep)
- sidebars (short boxes of copy placed alongside a main article, and containing additional or explanatory material)
- figures, illustrations, and charts and the like to break up the space and give the reader somewhere to rest their eyes.