In June 2011, I got an email from the Obama campaign with the subject line "The Obama campaign is hiring." It said:
We need your help recruiting the folks that will wage the most innovative and effective digital campaign in history, a team that will not just surpass but demolish our fundraising, communications and organizing goals. ... We need fresh ideas and new talent from creative agencies, non-profits, media companies, tech startups and anywhere else that employs people with drive, skill and a desire to serve.
This was sent to my personal account—not as a press release—and it went on to say they wanted experience in direct response marketing ("through email, social, mobile and all other platforms, traditional and non-traditional"), analysts and "data geniuses" ("people who can help us enhance our performance, optimize our strategies, and make everything we do better"), digital advertising ("including ad buying, creative, tracking and optimization across search, display, social and mobile platforms"), design, film/video, writing/editing, creatives/planners, developers/Web producers and project managers.
We're all seeing the results of that recruiting effort, and similar efforts on the Republican side, in our mailboxes and inboxes today. These are the most highly targeted, personal, high-tech (and, yeah, maybe a little bit creepy) fundraising campaigns ever launched.
If you're subscribed to our Today @ Target Marketing e-newsletter, you heard about the Obama campaign's Narwhal data project. Similarly, the GOP Voter Vault database has long been its big gun (although it went through some soul searching last year). All of those tools will be used to their limits between now and election day.
What does this mean for marketers?
- I've never seen politicians outlaw anything that got them elected, so perhaps we can breathe easier about federal privacy laws.
- Americans are going to see more highly targeted, cutting-edge direct marketing this year than they ever have before.
- There'll be some campaign-hardened direct marketers looking for work in November.