Every cycle seems to bring about a fresh innovation that reaches voters differently or a new tech that helps a campaign run more efficiently. But one campaign principle that hasn’t seen much change over the years is how we utilize volunteers. I predict this is the next big thing for the GOP.
In every campaign, certain volunteers consistently out-produce and out-perform the others. They recruit other volunteers. They raise money from first-time donors. They can fill the room for a rally or town hall.
Typically, these super volunteers are influencers who leverage their personal network of contacts to drive results. They may not make the most dials or knock the most doors. Rather, they use their personal relationships to influence the people they already know.
So why do many Republican campaigns continue to push volunteers to phone banks where we ID strangers and drive long distances to knock doors in towns where we don’t live?
Channel marketing, otherwise known as “word of mouth,” has long been known as the most powerful tool of persuasion in the private sector. According to Chatter Matters: The 2018 Word of Mouth Report by Jay Baer and Daniel Lemin, “83% of Americans say that a word of mouth recommendation from a friend or family member makes them more likely to purchase that product or service.”
We’re seeing this all over the mainstream marketplace — big brands leveraging partnerships with social media influencers, people who bring credibility to a product, to sell everything from clothes, books, vitamins and everything in between.
Recently, Democrats have begun employing new software technologies like The Tuesday Company’s “Team” platform and Outreach Circle to enable volunteers to contact people they already know, and track that information just as easily as traditional calls and door knocks.
But Republicans have lagged behind Democrats in harnessing the power of personal relationships at scale. That may be about to change, thanks to a developing startup infrastructure on the right that’s being supported by the Startup Caucus’s accelerator program. One of the companies the Caucus, where I sit on the advisory board, has backed is Buzz360.
Co-founded by Lisa Schneegans, a lifelong Republican activist and software developer, the company’s app enables volunteers to match their personal contacts to their candidate’s list of persuadable voters. It then guides the volunteer through the process of making a quality, personal contact with each individual and reporting the results.
Iowa may be the testing ground for Republicans’ ability to incorporate relational organizing techniques into their campaigns, as 2024 presidential candidates will begin vying for the early advantage here in less than a year.
In the state where Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum harnessed the power of personal networks and turned them into victory, the Republican candidate who figures this out first will have an enormous advantage.
Nicole Schlinger is the founder and president of CampaignHQ. Since 1999, CampaignHQ has delivered millions of effective P2P text messages, voter ID, persuasion, advocacy, patch through, and GOTV calls for winning campaigns and conservative organizations.