“What is the best way can I spend my campaign dollars – and my time – to reach voters?”
This is the million dollar question for every campaign. If you could personally meet every voter, you would win, hands down (well, hopefully). But since you can’t, you have to make tradeoffs.
Person-to-person contact produces the highest response of any campaign activity, by far. That’s why going door-to-door is so important. But it’s obviously the most time-consuming.
So what’s the next best thing to going door-to-door and meeting people personally? Some research suggests that just being in a neighborhood or city can have a positive and lasting effect. Having a local event creates a sense of proximity for voters that isn’t as good as meeting you personally, but close.
If local events are this valuable, how do you get the most bang for your buck? It starts with a tried and true activity familiar to any campaigner: the traditional meet and greet, or house party. The goal is to leverage the local event as the foundation of all of your other voter contact activities. Far more than just an event, it ties into a hyperlocal advertising strategy across multiple channels.
Imagine having canvassing crews deployed to targeted households while ad buys are targeted to specific ZIP codes and digital ads are customized to specific audiences within tight geographies — all with the goal of communicating that the candidate is nearby.
If voters show enough interest to attend the event, then the candidate does get to meet them and pitch them on their candidacy and hopefully a contribution. But the real ask coming out of one meet-and-greet is to get attendees to host their own, thus creating a viral loop that expands the campaign’s direct voter contact and leaves a lasting, personal impression with the community.
As the election gets closer and events get larger, the same process can be deployed to attract attention, register attendees, and “up-sell” additional engagement.
Would love your feedback if anyone has tried something like this!
The New Meet & Greet:
- Find families who will host a meet and greet in their home.
- Promote the upcoming meet and greet with geotargeted promotions via all available channels. All communications should be localized, even using the hosts’ picture if possible.
- Digital ads
- Targeted cable buys (can target cable buys down to the ZIP code level, so this can be very cost-effective)
- Door knocking
- Accept registrations via Eventbrite to capture data. Cross-promote via Facebook. Email 2-3 reminders prior to the event.
- Promote the meet and greet on the day of the event so people in the area know you are there. Make it something spectacular.
- Yard signs
- Bumper stickers
- Signs at the entrance to neighborhoods, like realtors use for open houses
- At the event:
- Make sure everyone who attends shares their email address and preferably phone number. You want to match attendees back to the voter file.
- Share your story and why you are running
- Ask for a contribution
- Ask attendees to host a meet and greet themselves
- Post pictures and video clips of the event everywhere:
- Email (emails w/ event photos should strongly encourage people to host a meet and greet)
- After the event, have staff follow-up with all attendees.
- If they did not donate or signup to host, ask them to host
- If they made a contribution, thank them and ask them to host an event
- If they offered to host an event, thank them and get a date on the calendar
- Repeat for each new host
- Recruit new hosts via digital ads, personal network, etc
- Once ballots are out, send a postcard to everyone who attended an event, thanking them for coming and asking them to help get out the vote.
To make this work, you’ll need a few people dedicated to it:
- Event Coordinator
- Follows up with prospective hosts
- Finds dates for events on the calendar
- Creates event on Eventbrite and Facebook, sends reminders
- Event photographer
- Knock on doors in neighborhoods where there is an upcoming meet and greet
- Event advance (preferably 2 people to be able to setup overlapping events)
- Gets to event early to help the host setup.
- Provides nametags, stickers, signup forms, yard signs, balloons, banner and other event collateral
- Makes sure all attendees provide their name, address and email
- Breaks down after event
- Collects checks and delivers them to the finance director
Using this pattern, a candidate could easily attend 2-4 meet and greets every weekend, plus 2-3 on weeknights. During the fall they could bump it up to 7-9 per week.
If you had an average attendance of 40 people at each event, you could reach 6,000 – 20,000 people directly over the course of the campaign. That may not sound like much for a statewide effort, but it would be significant. Every one of those people would share with their network that they were at the event and that they met you personally.
All of those conversations create a ripple effect that could be the deciding factor come election day.