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Opinion: Campaigns ignore digital strategy at own peril

By Jacqueline Neil, The Prosper Group

In September, Congressman Billy Long made us all chuckle by doing one of the things he does best: auctioneering. Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, was testifying before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which resulted in a shouting protester. Congressman Long, drawing on his career as a successful auctioneer, put those skills to use and in the process, entertained the country for what would be a blip on your social media timeline, if not for the Prosper Group. 

At The Prosper Group – a premier digital agency serving Republican candidates and committees – we saw one of our most successful cycles yet. Prosper Group partners with Axiom Strategies, the country’s largest Republican political consulting firm and Clout Public Affairs, a Missouri-based government affairs and crisis communication firm. With more than thirty campaigns in Missouri including the U.S. Senate, members of Congress and dozens of campaigns for Missouri House and Senate, we worked with each candidate to perfect messages that contributed to a successful election night. 

It wouldn’t have been possible without partners like Aaron Baker, Hannah Beers, and Becky Willard along with myself, and our team at Prosper. 

Ten years ago, digital campaigning was in its earliest phases. What we saw at the presidential level that year has grown exponentially since. When it comes to building candidate platforms that make an impact in sharing key messages and connecting with voters, every year campaigns are becoming more sophisticated in how they leverage digital marketing. Gone are the days of digital spending being a “maybe” on the budget plan. Today, it’s a necessity to reach your voters. 

In Missouri, the race between Attorney General Hawley and Senator McCaskill was considered to be one of the most expensive of the 2018 mid-term election. With crowded primaries and a lengthy ballot in the general election, television wasn’t an option for most campaigns. We saw campaigns on every level turn to digital as a new avenue to reach their base. With more than 30 candidates on the ballot in November, Prosper Group had clients from the top of the ticket all the way to county officials.

What sets digital apart from traditional advertising is the ability to reach our audience by geography, interests, age, affiliation, etc. Each voter can be specifically targeted, and there’s less competition when you’re reaching your target in just one click. 

What we can tell you, after a very successful cycle again in 2018, is this: Smart digital campaigns to target voters online and geofence key areas (i.e. targeting events and neighborhoods) in legislative districts is driving results.

I doubt that today, in 2018, many will deny the need to go all-in on a well-rounded digital strategy.

Whether it be through peer-to-peer texting, email fundraising, search and voice engine optimization, or another digital technique, Prosper Group is focusing on successful tactics that deliver compelling messaging points and mobilize our base. Many of the tactics we employ engage voters across the state. For any campaign to rule out the digital arena is a missed opportunity in both earned and paid media. Authenticity in addition to content is the success to engagement.

We live in an era where attention is an asset to effective advertising. The Internet of things has increased engagement between two mutual parties in communication. Historically, we’ve grossly underestimated the power of the Internet, and that has to stop. Campaigns must not fear digital marketing or shy away from the unexplored vehicle preparing for the 2020 election. 

When it comes to digital advertising, however, it’s not just for campaign season. Prosper Group partners with various advocacy organizations that target legislators, legislative districts, various interests, and voter bases to achieve legislative goals that were impossible before. Tools like email acquisition, micro-targeting, search engine optimization, and various platform advertising can help your organization reach its goals more effectively and conveniently by using the technology we have at our fingertips. 

Those that underestimate the powerful of digital to drive results – especially in close races – do so at their own peril.

Prosper Group is proud of the work we accomplished this year and the exemplary candidates we partnered with. 2020 looks bright from here. 

This opinion piece appears in the January 2019 Missouri Times Magazine.