Multi-Channel Marketing: A Lesson from Politics

If you've ever signed up to volunteer, donated money, or signaled interest of any kind in a political party and/or campaign, then you are experiencing the leading edge of multi-channel marketing. Ten years ago, online porn and gambling sites led the way in transaction processing innovations (really, they did) and today political campaigns in many respects are teaching us all a thing or two about how to find, connect, and leverage people of similar interests and political persuasions for the purpose of volunteering and fundraising. Andy Sack, the co-founder and CEO of Judy's Book and a former boss, has talked and blogged about finding a topic about which people are passionate as being a requisite for a successful online community. He's right and these days there is no topic many of us are more passionate about than politics. As a result, the political campaigns are being led by their supporters and 20-something staff members to dive into a broad array of social media technologies in an effort to find and engage individuals and communities with similar passions and political beliefs. In 2004, Meetups became an integral part of every campaign. Since then, campaigns have come to recognize the power of user-generated media as practiced by hundreds of millions of people on MySpace, Facebook, Blogs, Twitter, and more. What is happening today is a truly multi-channel approach to getting the message out with clear calls to action to people to including donate money, write letters/email, volunteer, or attend an event. Each of these activities being the bread and butter of American grassroots politics since the birth of our nation. The tactics and scale of reaching people is undergoing a revolution before our very eyes but the response these efforts are designed to engender hasn't change much. What this means for online marketers is that we can and will learn a lot by watching how the 2008 political campaigns identify, engage, and motivate people to act on their behalf. Whether your objectives are to build brand awareness, generate buzz, or increase order volumes, what the campaigns are doing online will provide a blueprint for optimal roles that social and user generated media can play in your marketing mix.

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