Monday, May 26, 2008

What if we actaully gave activists the yard signs, t-shirts and stickers they wanted?

Yard signs, t-shirts and stickers.

There are few subjects that will invoke more anger, frustration and crazy stories from veteran campaign staff than these mundane items.

Mundane? Yes. Simple? No.

Anyone who has ever had the privilege of working on any campaign of any size is familiar with the sanity-testing exercise of keeping donors, activists and volunteers happy. Undoubtedly, these supporters of our candidate want a visual representation of their support for our candidate.

It used to be we could give them a "Smith for Congress" yard sign or a "Jones for Governor" bumper sticker and call it a day. Not anymore. Welcome to a micro targeted, coalition driven, Long Tail world of campaign collateral.

C'mon Chris I thought this would be a substantive discussion on REAL campaign logistics. Trust me, it is. Just hang with me for a few minutes.

We are starting to see more segmentation of campaign collateral as our supporters ID themselves as "Veterans for Smith", "Viva la Bush!", "Sportsman for Kennedy" or even "Asian American Pacific Islanders for Bloomberg". I am not making that last one up, I have a button to prove it.

Enter the The Long Tail. Recently I finished reading the The Long Tail by Chris Anderson and was blown away by such a simple but powerful concept. People want more choice in everything they do...including their politics.

Now add Threadless. Read a great article in Inc. Magazine on the success of Threadless and how it uses its user driven community that cuts out all the advertising and marketing and just prints the shirts customers actually want. Free lance designers upload their art, community members vote on their favorites and then that same community buys them by the truck load.

So what if a big campaign that had some online store component actually asked it's online supporters (specifically the small dollar donors) what they wanted? How many "Frat boys for McCain", "Dentists for Coleman" or "Pet owners for Mitch" would want a t-shirt, bumper sticker or yard sign?

Even better than having to give it away at Campaign HQ all the time what if supporters actually pay for their own stuff. Allow them to "actively" participate in the campaign and engage on their own terms under their own label.

Now that would be a cool idea.

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