Hardly a week goes by without another candidate tossing his, or her hat into the 2016 presidential ring. Presidential campaigns are, in essence, giant mass marketing machines and it takes a lot of fuel, monetary and manpower, to run them.
If you want to run for president next year, you had better make up your mind soon, because the sums of money required to run an effective campaign have become staggering.
Fortune Magazine carried an article in its April 1 edition (maybe time to coincide with April Fool’s Day?) that a candidate will need to raise between $40-$50 million to reach voters in the first four states to go to the polls in next year’s caucus and primary season – Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada.
That’s a lot of wampum, especially if you’re a Republican. No GOP candidate has ever won his party’s nomination without scoring a victory in either Iowa or New Hampshire, so you can end up spending a fortune and still get yanked off the mound for an early shower before the start of spring.
I fully understand the need to sprint quickly out of the gate in political campaigns. Here at the Bottom Line Marketing Group, we have been privileged to help mold three major political campaigns, including Mike Bloomberg for Mayor of New York, Bob Turner for Congress, and Rudy Giuliani for President.
But the money is not the only factor. The most important dynamic in a campaign is to use your funds wisely to get the operation off to a fast and effective start. This principle applies whether your goal is to become President of the United States, or to promote a new product or service for your business, or a new fundraising goal for a nonprofit.
New research has revealed an uncanny similarity between a run for the White House and getting a Start-Up off the ground.
“Modern presidential campaigns raise and spend money faster than any startup in the business world, even the fastest and most successful in Silicon Valley.” So says a firm called Hamilton Place Strategies, a Washington-DC based consultant, whose team members have plotted strategy for members of Congress, presidential campaigns, and the national media.
A successful campaign makes efficient use of its two most precious resources: money and time. Getting the most out of each requires a talented staff that can get things done, and get them done fast.
Hamilton’s strategists devised a four-step approach to running a successful marketing campaign, no matter what the goal:
- Strategy is a Matter of Choice
Spend time devising a campaign culture, and then invest enough time early on to hammer out your processes and principles. Management’s role is to ensure that every staffer understands what the organization’s values are and it should echo through every meeting and public appearance.
- Make mistakes once, but not twice.
Every job has a learning curve, but campaigns will stumble when trying to recover from mistakes. There isn’t enough time for people to learn from the same mistake over and over. Great managers leverage their time by coaching others to be better at their jobs.
- Spend time on things that matter.
Understand what matters for your personal big picture and allocate your time accordingly. So if you’re running for president and your goal is to win the first caucus in Iowa, realize that the time you spend outside of Iowa is not going to contribute to victory in Iowa.
- Create the space for feedback.
It’s not enough to expect your team members to tell you when there’s a problem. You need to create the opportunity for them to do so. This can be as simple as telling people: “If there’s a problem, tell me.”
Hamilton concludes: “Whatever style you choose, the right style is the one that gets the best out of your team, not the one that you are most comfortable with.”
Bottom Line Action Step: Devise a campaign culture and inculcate it in your team.