Political companies marketing their businesses are always looking for the next big event, gift to send, or way to stand out from the pack. Often though, they overlook the basics, like meeting their target audience where they are. Usually, it’s at local, county, and state events where candidates are in the mood to talk about their campaign, strategy, and give pitches.
This year, my company participated in a County Congressional event in Indiana, the Build the Bench event in Iowa, and the Iowa GOP’s annual Lincoln Day dinner. All of these events had the same audience of activists and candidates seeking to run for office or on the ballot for 2022-’23.
By attending these events and prioritizing meetings with candidates where they are, we have been able to fill our sales pipeline, cultivate existing relationships with candidates and stakeholders, and build a recruiting list of potential candidates. Here are three ways to make the most of your next in-person county or state party event:
1. Meet everyone in the room.
County and state events have a different crowd than typical industry networking events. Here, candidates seek advice and are just beginning their campaign journey. We’ve found it helpful to hear about the successes and struggles of their campaigns, and provide ideas on how we can solve this problem for them.
At the GOP Lincoln Day dinner, we got to chat with several county party chairmen who wanted to champion their candidates ahead of the November election. They were looking for someone to manage their candidate’s social media accounts and teach them how to spread their message. We were able to exchange contact information and will help them now and for years to come as County Chairs stay longer than Candidates.
2. Invite potential candidates as a guest.
We wanted to take advantage of a room full of actors, candidates and activists. We therefore invited a future candidate to join us at an event. It was a way of showing, as a sponsor, that we are credible, but also that we had plenty of time to chat and strategize with other like-minded people. Building one-to-one personal relationships has helped our business attract new business, retain customers and thrive.
3. Follow religiously.
There’s one way to set yourself apart from the crowd and that’s by sending personal follow-ups to everyone you meet. By collecting business cards and taking quick notes, we were able to identify areas of conversation that are important to our new networking friends and show that we care about them with a personalized email. .
All in all, there are so many opportunities to meet potential new candidates in the political industry. From attending county party events to statewide dinners, meet your potential customers where they are. It’s much easier to build a relationship that started face to face than behind a computer.
Morgan Bonwell is the founder of Right Strategies. She resides in Grinnell, Iowa with her two beautiful toddlers and her husband, Michael.