As political data becomes more sophisticated and consultants offer services beyond mail delivery, beware of the “smoke and mirrors” consultant. Some consultants use catchy jargon and peddle unproven tactics to sound like industry experts. The best consultants work in partnership with you in an accessible and transparent way. It’s time to pull back the curtain.
Beware of Buzz Words
Unless you’re an automotive expert, you’ve probably encountered a scenario like this: You hear an unusual sound coming from your engine and take it to an automotive repair company. After hours of sitting in an uncomfortable waiting room, the mechanic informs you that the flux capacitor is out of whack. He can replace it today for $1,500; you’re lucky because it’s the last one they have in inventory. This company, and companies like this, are preying on your lack of automotive knowledge. Sadly, consultants in our industry engage in the same type of predatory behavior.
It’s a red flag if your proposal, targeting, or communications plan is filled with a lexicon of confusing terminology. We make our clients targeting transparent to their campaigns and explain how the criteria help put them on a path to an election day victory.
Trust The Data
Land doesn’t vote. People do. We’ve heard this argument in support of changing the electoral college, but it goes beyond presidential races. In today’s data reality, there are dozens of ways to target voters. The more basic is their past vote history and party affiliation, but targeting goes beyond that to include predicting a voter’s likelihood to own a gun, supporting reproductive freedom, or believing in climate change, to name a few. It is archaic to target people based on their arbitrary geographic precincts. Most voters don’t know what precinct they live in and certainly don’t act as a homogenous bloc when voting.
Too often, consultants use these abstract lines that separate neighbors as a predictor of voting behavior. With so many other valuable tools at our disposal, be cautious of utilizing non-data-driven decisions to spend your campaign dollars.
We view voters as the unique and complex people they are.
Show Your Hand
Political mail is only one of the many methods campaigns use to talk to voters. It’s certainly not the only instrument. Think of a symphony when all the instruments play harmoniously – the percussion knows the beat, the woodwinds know when to come in, and the flute section knows the timing of their epiphany. They know this because they’re all reading off the same sheet of music. Campaigns should operate the same way.
Your political mail consultant should articulate their targeting scores, messages, and drop dates, so other campaign programs (digital, field, etc.) know when they’re “playing.” We always seek to create a multi-channel, reinforced, and harmonious campaign representing our candidates, organizations, and issues.