Our Theory of Campaigns

Every campaign is different.

Unlike some, we take that as a given. What does that mean? It means that we don't just apply the same program to every campaign and expect it to be successful. We take a careful look at the resources and needs of a campaign and then develop a plan that takes advantage of those resources to win.

But that doesn't mean we don't have a careful process we apply. We test everything. Here's how we approach the work:

1. Figure Out the Basics
You know why you're running and you probably know the target audience but do you really know what message resonates best with your target audience (whether it's donors or voters)? We'll try out a few different things to see which works best for each specific audiences: maybe your message about crime gets donors to respond but does nothing for African American voters but they might like your support for teachers while Latino voters might not respond. We'll figure that out.

2. Test Messages
Now, we know that certain general messages work best for certain demographics so it's time to test messages. What images, what text works best to move supporters to donate and volunteer, what has the most effect on moving voters to supporters? We'll figure that out.

3. Get out there
The first two stages are small in scale and avoid wasting money on things that don't work. But once we know what will bring in donations and build support, it's time to get out there and make sure targets see the message and respond. This is when the campaign machinery is going full-blast, generally in the last month or two of the campaign (although, some higher profile campaigns, this starts earlier).

Now, some experienced campaign hands say that they know what voters care about and so they don't need to test anything. But are they confident enough to bet a campaign's fate on their untested beliefs? At worst, testing messages will reveal that they were right; far more likely, though, they will be surprised that one message does better or another falls flat. And then you'll be very glad that you went through a rigorous testing process to figure out the best way to get your campaign in front of the right people, without wasting money advertising the wrong message to people whose votes you need.