Develop a Relationship Before Asking for Cash Online

November 20, 2010

It is perplexing how many campaigns utilize e-mail solely to solicit money without ever building a rapport with supporters or enticing supporters with insider bits of information.  This practice goes entirely against the basic tenets of sales and inhibits digital success.

Dr. Jeffrey Lant, a leading scholar in marketing and sales, coined the “rule of seven.”  The idea is it takes seven marketing touches before a marketing message or sales pitch will have any significant impact.  For campaigns, a supporter joining your newsletter isn’t enough.  You still need to win their hearts.  By making them feel a part of the campaign, they will be happy to contribute when the time comes.

In his book, The Audacity to Win, David Plouffe discusses how the Obama campaign decided to announce the selection of Joe Biden as Obama’s running mate over text message, as opposed to a traditional press conference or event.  The campaign saw two primary benefits from such a decision.  First, it would grow the campaign’s text messaging database, which ultimately rose from a few hundred thousand phone numbers to millions.  Secondly, it made the campaign’s fervent supporters feel even closer to Obama, truly believing they were a part of history by hearing about the Vice Presidential selection before anyone else.

Plouffe also highlights in his book how the Obama campaign was careful not to ask for money too often in its e-mails and when it did, would go out of its way to explain why the money was important.  For instance, in an e-mail to Florida supporters, Plouffe shot a video explaining the campaign’s Florida budget and how an additional $4 million could be the difference between winning and losing the sunshine state.

Want to raise $20,000 in the final 12 hours before the FEC reporting deadline?  Need another $50,000 for more television advertising during the campaign’s final week?  Then be sure to do the due diligence early.  Send supporters insider tidbits or videos about the campaign.  E-mail instructions on how to obtain bumper stickers or free campaign paraphernalia.  Initiate contests such as the volunteer who knocks on the most doors in a weekend wins a free dinner with the candidate.

Above all else, do not fall into the trap where all you send is solicitations for money.  Because not only will supports not contribute, they will also stop reading your e-mails.


Editor Note: Apologies for the lag time between articles.  A combination of leaving town, work obligations and illness placed this blog post on the backburner.  Thank you for your understanding and continued readership.



Party Website Wars (Part One)

September 21, 2010

Last week the DNC released its redesigned Website, This follows the RNC’s unveiling of earlier in the summer. A close inspection of both Websites highlights the parties’ differing strategies as they compete for votes in November. Today, we will begin examining the party Website wars with the Democrats.

Opening, it is easy to be struck but its simplicity. The top prominently displays the party’s new slogan – “Change that Matters” – and a new logo with ambitions of building upon the successes of President Obama’s logo which was prominently displayed on merchandise throughout the summer of 2008. In the top right corner the site offers a Spanish version – something the Republicans lack – demonstrating the Democrat’s outreach to that important constituency.

The new DNC logo

The most eye catching element of the site’s home page is its large banner with four rotating messages:

  • “The history of the Democrats is the history of America” (with a picture of President Roosevelt)
  • “A new identity that captures the spirit that unites us all” (exploring the new look and image of the party)
  • Join an organizing rally with President Obama
  • Pledge a commitment to vote in November main banner

Remaining above the fold, the most innovative aspect of is the “find a local candidate” feature. Users can type in their zip code and the site will highlight all Democratic candidates running for Senate, Governor or House of Representatives in that state or district. When users click on the candidate’s profile, a quote from the candidate is displayed along with their primary Website, Facebook page, local event information and volunteer information.

Scrolling down the home page, visitors will find the main DNC social media links – including Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Flickr – and streaming Democratic Twitter updates from the party, a candidate and a state party. In addition, as Website users scroll to the bottom of the page they find a group of nine boxes with links to such features as the Democratic store, an iPhone canvassing app and a video from David Plouffe.

OFA iPhone Canvassing App

When a user signs in, they are presented with a personalized Dashboard. The Dashboard includes options such as signing up for events, finding Democratic groups in an area, writing a blog and updating a profile. Users can also enter their cell phone number to receive campaign messages via text.

For me, the most effective tool of the Website is the local candidate feature, which not only informs voters of their local candidates, but highlights upcoming events and connects voters to their candidates via social media. The Spanish option for the Website is very important and the site does a good job of incorporating the party’s new logo and inspirational leaders (Obama and Roosevelt).

Objectively, it would be great to incorporate video more prominently on the home page. has minimal embedded video and does very little on its home page to incite passion among the Democratic base. The Website does a tremendous job of delivering local information to supporters but lacks the fervor to rally people to volunteer and vote.

And when it comes to passion and inciting fervor, it is tough to compete with the GOP – and we will examine their Website in our next installment.