In politics, it’s inevitable that sooner or later something is going to happen that shines a spotlight on your candidate or cause and suddenly the pressure is on you to take advantage of the moment.
There’s no shortage of stories about a moment coming and candidates or groups raising big sums of money. These are the exceptions, not the rule, but that doesn’t stop most campaigners from believing their breakout moment is going to come with truckloads of cash from small dollar donors.
And their instincts are right: you’ve got to capitalize on these moments. But how?
Before It Happens
Build your net.
Because there are so few moments in a campaign or debate you control, you must always be prepared. The time to make sure these preparations happen is before you launch your campaign or organization:
- Have a website that’s oriented to email capture. This means conspicuous, compelling calls to action on every single page.
- Ensure your website appears on the first page of Google for relevant searches, especially for your name.
- Have free advertising pixels for Facebook, Google, and Twitter on your site so you can retarget visitors with ads – even if you don’t yet have an ad budget!
While it’s happening
Put out your bait.
Potential supporters who are being introduced to your candidate or organization for the first time or are looking to take action on a particular issue need you to tell them what to do.
As Morton Blackwell says, “Don’t rely on being given anything you don’t ask for.”
- Breakout moments are fueled by social media. Post on your social media accounts as soon as you can a clear call to action, whether that’s signing a petition (to capture information) or – if you must – an ask for a donation.
- If budget permits, turn on search ads for any relevant keywords that you might not have a good organic search presence for.
- Create an easy, low-friction call to action, like a petition or one question survey so you can capture surface level interest for a potential supporter who might not be ready to donate, needs to learn more, or may only have 30 seconds before they get distracted.
After the moment passes
Reel in your net.
Our collective attention span and capacity for outrage is intense but short-lived. Once you’ve done everything you can to capture the burst of attention and start relationships with potential supporters, you’ve got to help them climb the engagement ladder.
- Follow up with an email or series of emails, educating them about your candidate or organization. Ask for a donation to help support your work while they’re still passionate.
- Report back as events warrant. The attention of a big moment brought them to you and they raised their hand to say they cared, now make sure you keep them informed.
- If budget permits, launch donation ads retargeting site visitors whose information you got. Call to action ads should go to anyone who didn’t give you their information during a visit.
If your answer to the question, “How can we capitalize on this moment?” is simply, “send a fundraising email.” You’re going to be disappointed and you’re going to miss out on a wave of new support.
Follow these steps before, during, and after your moment in the spotlight to build a long-term relationship with new supporters.