Political firms marketing their businesses are always looking for the next big event, gift to send, or way to set themselves apart from the pack. Often though, they overlook the basics, like meeting their target audience where they are. Usually, that’s at local, county, and state party events where candidates are in the mindset to talk about their campaign, strategy, and make introductions.
This year, my firm attended a Congress of Counties event in Indiana, Build the Bench event in Iowa, and the annual Iowa GOP Lincoln Day Dinner. All these events had the same audience of activists and candidates who are either looking to run for office or are on the ballot for 2022-’23.
By attending these events and prioritizing meeting candidates where they’re at, we were able to fill our sales pipeline, cultivate existing relationships with candidates and stakeholders, and build out a potential candidate recruitment list. Here are three ways you can make the most of your next in-person county or state party event:
1. Meet everyone in the room.
County and state party events have a different crowd than typical industry networking events. Here, candidates are seeking advice and just starting their campaign journey. We have found it’s helpful to listen to their campaign successes and struggles, and give ideas on how we can solve that problem for them.
At the GOP Lincoln Day Dinner we were able to talk with several county party chairs who wanted to advocate for their candidates before 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 assist them now and for years to come because county chairs stay longer than candidates.
2. Invite potential candidates as your guest.
We wanted to take advantage of a room full of stakeholders, candidates, and activists so we invited a future candidate to join us at an event. It was a way to show, as a sponsor, we are credible, but also had plenty of time to chat and strategize with other likeminded individuals. Building one-on-one personal relationships has helped our company bring in new business, keep clients, and thrive.
3. Follow-up religiously.
There is one way you can set yourself apart from the rest and that’s by sending personal follow-ups to every person you meet. By collecting business cards and taking quick notes, we have been able to identify areas of conversation that are important to our newly networked friends and show that we care with a personalized email.
Overall, there are so many opportunities to meet new potential candidates in the political industry. From attending county party events to statewide dinners, meet your potential clients where they are at. 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 husband, Michael.