The 2012 national election was a watershed moment for political marketing. Republicans and Democrats didn't agree on much prior to that election, but the very next day they agreed on one big thing: the Obama team's sophisticated use of data enhanced digital and social marketing made all the difference in the world. In the words of one Republican operative at an industry conference, "we were like a very good high school team playing the New England Patriots. We won't let that happen again."
No doubt there will be record amounts spent on the 2016 national, state and local elections, not to mention the lengthy primary season. However you feel about the role of money in politics, both parties - plus an overwhelming number of PACs - are going to double down on digital. There's no question it's going to rain money; it's just not clear how many of us are going to get wet. As I've trained digital sales teams over the years the topic of digital political advertising often comes up, but the depth of that conversation is not where it should be. Many sellers still believe that the primary role of the political ad is to convince someone to vote for a given candidate, ignoring how digital factors into fundraising, list development, voter mobilization, turnout and so much more.
Two close friends of mine - who both also happen to be legends in our business - are doing something about this gap. On Thursday August 6th at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, John Durham and Rick Parkhill will be hosting the Political Advertising Summit. They're assembling some terrific speakers for the purpose of informing and training digital sellers about the opportunity ahead and what it will take to realize it. I have no stake in the outcome, except as an attendee and fellow traveler; I plan to go myself to learn more about this important set of topics. If you're a seller who's been tasked with going after 2015-16 campaign and initiative dollars, or if you have one on your team, here's a link to help you sign up for this important event. I hope to share the day with you or someone from your organization.
An old maxim tells us that money is the mother's milk of politics. While that is certainly (and perhaps unfortunately) still true, we owe it to ourselves and our companies to pursue those dollars as smartly and effectively as we can. Doing less that that is to ignore the lesson of 2012 and leave your company wondering what happened on the Wednesday after Election Day.
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