What the Client Thought They Needed.

Beth Lindstrom engaged Conduit Innovation in the midst her 2018 campaign for US Senate to help expand her audience and reach more people in order to defeat the firmly entrenched Democratic incumbent.

Beth, the former Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation, the first woman executive director of the Massachusetts Republican Party and had huge success as the executive director of the Massachusetts State Lottery.

She was passionate about securing our borders, building a strong economy and bringing a fresh perspective to congress as a non-career politician. During her campaign she valued common-sense above labels and conformity.

Her campaign team needed support strengthening their messaging through digital marketing and revamping their website to bring in donations and attract voter attention.

It is widely known that incumbents have an overwhelming advantage in elections.  As a Conservative Challenger in the historically liberal State of Massachusetts, many believed this was a losing battle to begin.

Conduit Innovation, however, did not shy away from such a challenge given that Beth Lindstrom’s profile as a candidate showed the potential to provide a true alternative to voters in a toxically polarizing time.  Furthermore, Conduit saw this as a unique opportunity to apply its methodology to the electoral arena.

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What Beth Lindstrom’s Campaign Didn’t Know They Needed

With the 2018 Massachusett's US Senate GOP Primary already in progress, Conduit Innovation quickly outlined the external forces which served as variables to undermine the likelihood of success for Lindstrom's campaign.

  • A three-way primary race with three distinct Republican candidates, served to dilute fundraising efforts within the Primary.
  • Beth’s platform as a cooperative, open minded, common sense based moderate Conservative was an excellent platform for the General Election but presented a distinct challenge in the Primary.
  • Beth’s challenge in the Primary was compounded by the historical lack of voter turnout for Republican Primaries during non-Presidential Election years. 
  • Additionally, given the relatively wide range of choices within the Massachusetts Republican Primary in 2018, donors were reportedly holding off on supporting a candidate until the “dust settled”

Lindstrom's moderate platform, juxtaposed with the context of the 2018 Republican Primary Race led Conduit to believe a “traditional” approach to running would not be enough to win. 

Conduit recommended appending the campaign's approach with a disruptive voter acquisition strategy to mobilize constituents which normally would not be "in play" for her primary opponents.  In other words, for Beth to overcome two opponents in a Primary which only the farthest right voter actually votes, she would have to run the Primary as if she was running the General Election.  Instead of treating each election in a vaccuum, Beth Lindstrom's best chance at ultimate success would be to create a movement bigger than the election she was currently competing in.

 

A three way Republican Primary, and Lindstrom's moderate Republican platform had many potential campaign donors in “wait and see” mode. These factors contributed to a sizable gap in campaign finance between Beth and her two opponents. 

Given that Lindstrom's campaign could not outspend her opponents Conduit recommended that they turn thier attention to a more surgical voter acquistion and retention strategy.  A road less travelled, this would allow Lindstrom to remain authentic to its moderate and inclusive roots which would ultimately benefit the candidate in the general election.

  • Rather than focusing on simply expanding reach, Conduit recommended the campaign expand the reach only in areas where Beth stood a chance to mobilize those voters under her cause and on her behalf.
  • Finding the right voters was critical to this strategy given that the Lindstrom campaign had yet another disadvantage; the Massachusetts Primary Vote was to take place on Tuesday after the Labor Day long weekend.  Historically, this served to only further erode voter turnout.

Assigning Roles as a Method to Divide and Conquer

In cooperation with Lindstrom’s campaign, Conduit Innovation infused the INNOV8 process to compliment the campaign’s time-tested tactics.  This process applied Conduit's unique view of Customer attributes, profiling and segmentation to the Republican Primary Voter.  

Conduit began by embedding resources within the campaign headquarters to seamlessly merge the qualitative day to day feedback received from the field with the quantitative research and analysis undertaken by Conduit’s staff.

SMARTech Convergence Gets Applied to a Political Race

Conduit transposed it's SMARTech Convergence Methodology that unifies Sales, Marketing and Technology efforts, converging them around the wants of the Customer to the Massachusetts 2018 GOP Senate Primary.

  • Targeted New Voter Acqusition & Retention would assume the role of "Sales"
  • Public Relations & Earned Media would assume the role of "Marketing"
  • Technnology would serve the same function; to better enable the people within Beth's Campaign to be successful in their respective roles
  • All efforts would converge around the Voter; assuming the role of the aforementioned "Customer" within the strategy. 

The 90-Day Sprint 

A late addition to Lindstrom's Campaign, Conduit had roughly 90 days prior to the Primary Election Day to make an impact.

Conduit quickly finalized the strategy that considered the environmental factors already impacting the campaign.

  • Fresh off a historic Presidential upset, there was a phenomenon of Trump Nationalism that also appealed to strong Conservative Voters. 
  • One of Lindstrom’s opponents had a platform designed to syphon all these votes.  The other opponent had personally invested several million dollars of his own in order to be the campaign most visibly dominant from a branding perspective.
  • Each of Lindstrom’s opponents engaged her in very limited public debates depriving the campaign for additional visibility.
  • As mentioned previously, Beth’s strength in a General Election was a perceived weakness in the Primary given that only the most ardently Conservative Voters reliably voted in State Republican Primaries.

As a result of these factors and more, the media within Massachusetts did not give the Lindstrom campaign a realistic chance of winning.

Eliminating Reasons for Failure 

These external forces; much like the markets that a company competes within, heavily influenced the path forward for the campaign. 

  • Conduit's strategy predicated on finding the opportunity given the current climate as opposed to focusing on the effort, money and time required to change that climate.
  • The output was a voter profiling approach geared to unearth the constituent who understood that the answers to the problems that face the people of Massachusetts are not “black and white”, “left or right” but somewhere in the middle.

The overarching vision was for Beth Lindstrom as a Canidate, to find a way to mobilize the large proportion of disenfranchised registered voters who have lost faith in the government and/or the "same old" politicians who care more about devisive party lines than the actual people of Massachusetts.  

In bringing this vision to life; Lindstrom’s campaign would be in a position to make something of the external forces they could not control Into a sustainable source of supporting data to build a case that the status quo could not continue:

  • The trending agenda based narrative of media which had already aligned itself with the Democratic incumbent
  • The polarizing and highly charged rhetoric by both parties which seemingly served only to divide people and prevent true collaborative problem solving 

Having finalized a strategic vision, Conduit Innovation then created an umbrella or rallying point to house all the seemingly disparate pain points, that the disengaged voter carries with them which contribute to their lack of involvement.

The slogan “Believe in Beth” was created to clearly state the intent of the strategy while also playing on Beth’s down to earth, authentic, grass roots approach to her campaign.  Beth believed in traveling and meeting people each day across as many towns and cities as possible during her campaign.

A listener first, speaker second, Beth’s connection with people during these road trips was infectious and having a slogan that embodied the larger vision with the person’s impact on people was natural choice.

To support the brand slogan, Conduit Innovation commissioned a series of assets with the intent on breaking a comprehensive candidate value proposition into consumable chunks.

Conduit also recognized that Lindstrom’s innovative approach to messaging flew in the face the traditional stereotypes of Republicans.  Rather than leave Beth to battle an incorrect perception of her, the recommendation was made to embrace opinions different than hers with a companion slogan:

“Tell me what you believe.  I will listen.”

When attempting to appeal to a wide range of people in the state of Massachusetts who feel “forgotten” Beth’s greatest strength; her compassion for others and ability to both listen and internalize the views of others was a crucial advantage.

  • Beth Lindstrom genuinely cared about the people of Massachusetts
  • She understood that people are not defined by a political party or affiliation

Beth’s faith in the humanity of her fellow constituents bolstered by her realism that the solutions to the problems we face aren’t one sided became her “brand”.

Armed with a new brand, vision, target audience and value proposition, Conduit’s next task would be to precision target these voters as part of the acquisition strategy.

In cooperation with Lindstrom’s campaign, Conduit Innovation accessed a series of data streams to first aggregate, then construct voter profiles which would serve as the basis for refining the type of person who would “Believe in Beth”.

These profiles would serve as the backbone for surgical voter outreach efforts by the campaign's field staff as election day drew closer.

The Necessary Tactics to See the Vision Become Reality:

  • Hyper-Focused Voter Targeting: Conduit developed a spending framework that mitigated the potential to waste marketing dollars by assigning a specific intent and target audience to all monies.
  • Clear Prioritization:  Assigned priority to advertising budget spent (along with its associated target audience) based on what/where the campaign needed traction and best opportunities to tell a story for the voter.
  • Impact Prediction: Established a mechanism to capture cause and effect for investments to determine impact (no matter how indirect that impact is).
  • Leveraging Data: Developed a process to link seemingly disparate data sets can be made by developing and assigning attributes to things the campaign wants to measure (the flow of money, the impact of messaging, the potential for voting changes etc.).

Levering historical turnouts and probability rates for turnout by the “Believe in Beth” voter, which in turn informed goal setting. As result of this, field staff were heartened and resolved to make a difference in support of Beth’s mission for the people of Massachusetts’ interests in the US Senate.

With a brand authentically positioned, and a clear target audience, Beth Lindstrom the candidate had assembled an impenetrable suit of armor against her opponents as the Primary Election Day neared.

In support of the Lindstrom campaign Conduit Innovation provided recommendations to extend the strategy into all digital assets and social media. 

  • Voter Acquisition and Retention Strategic Consulting
  • Digital Marketing Strategy
  • Content Strategy
  • Creative Strategy (memes, imagery, logos, iconography etc.)
  • Social Media Strategy
  • Vendor Coordination and Management

Proposed Website Enhancements to Unify the Approach

As the Republican Primary came towards a close, Conduit Innovation worked to aggressively unify these elements into a singular point of convergence for the Lindstrom Campaign; a redesigned website.

The enhancements integrated all aspects of the work Conduit Innovation had completed during its involvement with Beth’s campaign, carrying them through to the design and content strategy of the site itself.
 

Messaging, Ecosystem Building and the Website

  • Infused Beth’s target voter groups and profiles to message against
  • Created new content and established easy to follow messaging tracks within the website’s user experience based on voter profile groups
  • Carried forward voter profile groups to current donor lists to ensure continuity of strategy/messaging for the final push
  • Integrated a comprehensive social media strategy, providing direction to campaign staff to execute against

Comprehensive Website Overhaul

  • Developed a new website map that mimicked the voter journey based on the voter centric strategy
  • Established "avatars" or real voters who represented the target groups and established these voter profiles on the website
  • Created a listing of testimonials of voter profiles who believed in Beth
  • Strategically phased those based on voting segment, district and following

The Lindstrom Senate campaign failed to capture the Republican nomination on September 4th.  Despite failing to achieve the primary objective, the strategy deployed by Conduit Innovation in cooperation with Lindstrom’s campaign produced some incredible results.

Lindstrom’s campaign had substantially less capital throughout the duration of the election:

Kingston $6,759,223.51
Diehl $3,025,033.56
Lindstrom $1,350,610.18 

Lindstrom’s platform built on appealing to moderate republicans and disenfranchised voters was a significantly more difficult path within the Primary.  With that said; Lindstrom’s cost per vote tallied was a mere 27% higher than the strongly conservative Diehl and a staggering 70% less than Kingston.

Diehl 144,043 votes   $21.00/per vote cast
Lindstrom 46,693 votes $28.92/per vote cast
Kingston 69,636 votes $97.06/per vote case

While Lindstrom came in 3rd on the day of the Primary, her opponent Kingston spend $2,026,835.92 ($1,705,112 in Media Placement/$321,723.92 in Direct Mail Advertisement) during the months of August and September alone. 

In other words, Kingston spent 34% more than Lindstrom’s entire Senate Campaign over a 60-day period for a delta of 22,943 votes or 8.8% differential.

As predicted given the strongly conservative platform the candidate ran on, the winner of the Republican nomination was defeated handily in the General Election by the far left incumbent. 

*Campaign finance source:  www.fec.gov

 

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