I got my first political campaign job when I was 15 years old. Now, 22 years later, campaigns are still my passion. But at Push, we’re picking up more and more corporate work. And it’s coming from businesses that realize they need a thrifty political shop instead of a big New York ad agency that’s just back from partying hard at Cannes. And the more corporate work we do, the more I realize just how much these big businesses need our skills, our experience, and most of all – our mentality.
Here are 10 things corporations should learn from political campaigns:
1. Speed is everything.
There is only one commodity in politics: Time. You can raise more money. You can recruit more volunteers. But Election Day is coming fast and you don’t own an EFFing time machine. That’s why campaigns move at lightning speed. Corporations should, too. In the age of the internet and 24-hour news networks, public opinion can shift in 20 minutes and it could take you months to fight back. You have to move now. Not tomorrow. Now.
2. Make every penny count.
Money is the 2nd most precious commodity in politics. It’s why campaign managers are so cheap. Campaigns are the only endeavor where millions of dollars are raised, only to be completely spent in a 4-6 week period. That’s why campaign managers are such cheap motherf**kers. The good ones are making things work on fumes until it’s time to spend. You’re held accountable for every single dollar you spend. It’s public. So spend carefully, strategically and wisely.
3. It’s all about getting shit done.
It’s not about meetings or conference calls. Corporations talk themselves in circles. Campaigns need results ASAP.
4. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
Campaign managers ask one question: Will this action get me closer to winning or not? If it gets you closer to your goal, it’s good enough. That’s it. No need to overthink or overproduce.
5. Simplify the decision-making process.
If you need a PowerPoint presentation to explain it, then it’s too complicated. You must have people around you who are empowered to make decisions. Too many cooks in the kitchen will kill your speed and flexibility, and may even grind you to a halt.
6. Always be ready to take a hit.
Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face. So plan on being punched in the face.
Seriously. Your competition. The public. News. You can’t be sure when, or from which direction, but you can be sure it’s coming.
7. Every crisis is an opportunity.
Never go on the defensive.
But do: Have a nimble team in place. Get out in front of the crisis. Be strong, resolute, clear. Bend, but don’t break. Be cool under pressure. Be the person with a plan. Always be ready to pivot and counterpunch.
8. Build armies of advocates – not just customers.
The best campaigns are about people, and they become “movements.” Advocates and supporters are cultivated carefully and patiently over the course of a campaign. They need to be treated as the last match in a windstorm. Every customer is a potential soldier when the enemy comes knocking at your door.
9. Don’t overlook niche audiences.
Conservative grandmothers. Rural tweens. Every vote counts.
Now that audiences can be broken down, targeted and reached more specifically, be open to the possibilities some niche audiences may bring your way. Some group you might never have considered could be the key to an amazing new market.
10. You need 51% market share.
Market share is important. For instance, 10% market share in a given industry could mean millions or billions of dollars. Ha! 10% in politics means you lost… you go home… you blew it. Political market share means you have to go big and think big. Campaign managers are constantly asking the question; “How do I get to 51%?”
Over the next ten days, we will be diving deep into each of these points. This’ll be good stuff.