Politics and Get Out The Vote

The two greatest revelations to me recently to put in my box of power tools as a businessman and future government leader are the A/B test, and the ability of Online activities to drive Offline actions. Interestingly, the recent past has produced some great examples in political campaigns of how to be successful, and also how to not be entirely successful, with these tools.

A/B Testing the Future of Business

The impact of my new knowledge of the utility of an A/B test is huge, due to its applicability across business and government visual communications channels.

Although our readings did not mention it, the A/B test tactic is broader than the internet, even though it originated online. Essentially, it’s a utilization of very granular marketing metrics. Online, it’s possible to utilize very granular indicators such as open rates, email forwards, new and dropped subscriptions, and money contributed.

But which one really matters? While practitioners such as Nicco Mele and Zephyr Teachout of the Howard Dean Presidential Campaign push the broader applicability of email beyond utilization simply as a money-generating tool, if limited to simply this consideration, the A/B test can be pushed offline and utilized on Television Ads and the corresponding most essential metric: money contributed, and numbers of people mobilized to online and offline events from television-generated advertisements.

The broad rule that I will take with me is that everything having to do with an online business can be A/B tested, and optimized for profit. In addition to this, the broad applicability of these metrics indicate they could easily be utilized both online and offline for a profit-making entity.

Implications of A/B Testing the Future of Government

Be afeared and forewarned, however! The above optimization comes at an opportunity cost: the cost of the paradigm-shifting strategic decision that changes your business and the market in a manner that alters the rules for your business and other businesses in your market.

The rules dictating this opportunity cost are simple: if you are always optimizing what currently exists, you are not creating the next best business model, product, service, or engagement method.

Therefore, leaders should seek to move beyond simple optimization through A/B testing, which could easily be considered tactical change.

Leadership is about strategic vision and change that shifts our current paradigm and the rules of the game, therefore leaders should maintain the vision to look beyond the day-to-day problems and tactics to changes that actually “move the needle”.

Online engagement driving Offline Activities:

Online communications generating Offline Activities is the key marketing conversion – be it in business, government, or politics. Communication generating interest, engagement, two-way communication, and a corresponding offline action is the manifestation within politics of something called The Experience Economy.

The fact that Obama’s political team adapted this concept to a political campaign in 2008 is quite interesting, as this business concept was born in 1998.

By 2008, this concept was pervasive in the marketing and positioning of many business organizations and brands. A critical hurdle was cleared in the 2004 – 2008 time frame that enabled technological communication tools to mature to the point necessary to drive deep engagement within a tolerable ease-of-use of a majority of the population. Another critical hurdle cleared: adoption of necessary online communities, and self-education of the internet of all ages.

To see this in metrics, Internet usage in the United States was 64.76% in 2004, and 74.00% in 2008, according to the International Telecommunications Union.

Meanwhile, Obama’s margin of popular vote win was 7.2%.

Moving the Experience Economy into Politics via the Internet can only be described as a strategic paradigm shift.