How donation-based online political campaign stores changed everything
Before the 2008 presidential election, campaign supporters often received branded political merchandise when they attended a campaign event or when then mailed in a donation to a candidate’s campaign or gave it in person. Now, buying branded items from a campaign’s own retail commerce website is the campaign donation. And those online purchases generate a gold mine of marketing data that campaigns can capitalize on.
Greenville, Ohio-based distributor Tigereye Promotions (UPIC: TIGREYE) has been one the leaders of political online stores since it started the first presidential donation-based campaign store for the 2008 Obama campaign. “We were already providing the campaign with promotional products and once the campaign figured out that they could legally ask for donations through an online store, they asked us if we could help them out,” says Tigereye President Monica Baltes.
Here’s how the process works: according to Federal Elections Commission regulations, a political candidate can’t sell items for profit. But by treating those purchases as a campaign donation, where the product itself is the “premium” that a supporter gets in return for a pledge, campaigns are able to stay within the rules—and gather actionable customer data to further their fundraising and volunteer recruitment efforts. For example, if someone buys a baby item, the campaign could assume that person either has a baby or is close to someone who does, and that children’s issues are important to that person. They can then better target marketing messages and volunteer recruitment communications tailored to that person’s interests.
Donations through Obama’s campaign store just “exploded more than anyone could have imagined,” Baltes says. “It was a huge challenge. The campaign kept asking us if we could find unique items that were both union made and made in the USA. There are not that many manufacturers that do that. There was a lot of shopping and a lot of coordinating with vendors. Our vendors are awesome. They will bend over backwards for us and they make us look good.”
In the 2016 presidential campaign, as well as in statewide and local campaigns, online stores are a now a fundamental necessity. If you’re going to create a campaign store for a political candidate, “Just make sure you get the campaign to pay for the products up front so you don’t get stuck with a warehouse full of products in the event the campaign runs out of money,” Baltes emphasizes.
Five tips for creating an online campaign store
1. Plan ahead. An online store is essentially a business within your campaign or group. Build a business plan including branding, marketing, staff and budget.
2. Emphasize unique messages. What is your campaign about? People are more likely to buy merchandise with a lasting, transcendent message than just a campaign or union logo.
3. Include merchandise in your marketing. Let people know how to get the products you’re offering. Use social media to connect web savvy supporters to the store. Offer a discount code to targeted supporter groups.
4. Supplement the store with premium appeals. A well-placed premium item may whet your base’s appetite for other merchandise and boost your traditional fundraising totals at the same time.
5. Keep it fresh. New designs and new products will give your supporters a reason to keep coming back to the store to make donations.
Source: Tigereye Promotions
These Products Get Our Vote
Nobody home? This full-color hang tag is the perfect leave-behind.
Beacon Promotions UPIC: BEACONP www.beaconpromotions.com
Colorful promotional buttons are the traditional backbone of every political campaign. These U.S.-made buttons come in round or shaped options and feature PMS color matching.
Express-A-Button UPIC: EXPR0004 www.expressabutton.com
Good campaign volunteers always have a roll of stickers to create as many walking billboards for their candidate as possible. “I voted” stickers are perfect for more general get-out-the-vote efforts. These two-inch round stickers come in a roll of 200.
Fields Manufacturing UPIC: FIELDS www.fieldsmfg.com
These circular shaped lapel pins would make excellent accents at any convention or conference. Featuring gold trim and a magnetic closure and backing, these classic promotional products can be customized with your company name, logo or message. Through the four-color process and epoxy dome print method, your custom imprint is sure to stand out.
Essef Distributors UPIC: 7414140 www.lincolnline.com
These patriotic sunglasses with UV400 protection are a perfect accessory for any summertime election event. Add the candidate’s custom logo or campaign slogan. One size fits most adults.
WOWline UPIC: MANY0002 www.wowline.com
Everyone knows that the donkey and elephant represent the Democratic and Republican parties. Political action committees and hotels in cities that host political debates or town hall meetings have used the reversible donkey elephant puppet as way to engage voters in some laughter before heated debates and before important decisions are made.
Artistic Toy UPIC: ARTSTOY www.artistictoy.com
For a unique political giveaway, stickless hand fans make a perfect handout at any political rally, event or parade, indoors or outside. This 6 ¾- by 8 ¼-inch fan is available in white with a process color (CMYK) imprint on both sides.
Magna-Tel, Inc. UPIC: MAGNATEL www.magna-tel.com
Double-sided yard signs are great for name recognition and allow a candidate’s supporters to proudly display their favorite candidate.
Gill Studios UPIC: gill www.gill-line.com
Adhesive notes are the perfect tool to create an effective, efficient, grassroots campaign. Attach a note to the front door of each home in the region. Add an adhesive note to each mailing piece to increase value. The more dimension a marketing item has, the more it will be noticed.
Bebco UPIC: BEBCO www.bebco.com
No campaign is complete without bumper stickers. These bumper stickers include a quarter-inch tab for easy removal. Static vinyl bumper stickers for inside window application are available.
Discount Labels UPIC: DISC0002 www.discountlabels.com
The MopTopper™ is a pen, stylus and screen cleaner all in one. With a soft silicone stylus tip and long-lasting microfiber hair screen cleaner, the MopTopper is a great way for campaigns to stand out with a unique product.
Prime Resources Corp. UPIC: PRIME www.primeline.com
Perfect for group breakfast, lunch or dinner candidate speaking events, these full-color placemats are powerful campaign devices for campaign events and for candidates to donate to senior centers, recreation centers, fraternal organizations and restaurants. Memobooks with gloss coating, rounded corners and ruled lines are ideal candidate handouts. The imprint cover can deliver complete candidate messages.
Tru Art Advertising Calendars UPIC: TRUART www.truart.com
Why Yard Signs Matter
In the first randomized field trial of political yard signs, five researchers found that on average, lawn signs increase vote share by 1.7 percentage points and the effects spill over into adjacent precincts. One of the researchers, Alexander Coppock, a doctoral candidate in American politics at Columbia University, said he and his colleagues started the trial assuming that candidates were wasting their money on small yard signs. Their findings contradict that notion. And Arizona-based political consultant Constantin Querard emphasizes that yard signs can make a big difference in “down ticket” or local races, like state legislator or county assessor, where people aren’t paying as much attention. “Your endorsement is valuable only because they assume you know the person or pay attention to this. And in the absence of any other deciding factor, the personal endorsement from your neighbor actually, I think, carries weight,” Querard says.
Source: Arizona Daily Star
Cleveland, Ohio-based supplier Galaxy Balloons (UPIC: GALACTIC) designed, fabricated and produced the Trump balloon that appeared on the cover of the October 4, 2015 New York Times Magazine. The Trump balloon cover received a gold award in the Cover Design category from The Society for News Design. One judge commented, “The obvious play on hot air, inflated ego, multiple visual puns happening at once so that you do not need words at all … Even the placement of the illustration, with him floating off the top, is clever.”