Money is the second most precious commodity in politics.
You hear the old cliche “government should be run like a business.” Naw man. Government should be run like something a little closer to home – a political campaign. And for that matter, so should businesses. It’s all about running the most efficient machine achievable where every dollar spent is scrutinized down to the penny on a daily basis. It’s about being lean and mean.
Campaigns are the only endeavor where MILLIONS of dollars are raised, only to be completely spent in an extremely short time period. That’s why campaign managers are so tight with money. They have to be. The good ones can make things run on fumes until it’s time to spend.
Campaigns are held accountable for every single dollar spent. It’s public. It’s reported. Normal businesses don’t have that kind of microscope on them—or that sort of bust-to-boom-to-bust budget cycle. But businesses can learn from this.
Money is a finite resource. Spend it that way. Whether you are running IBM or something small like my brewery, demand regular reporting and metrics. You HAVE to be able to modify tactics or targets quickly. Of course, I am talking mostly here about advertising spending—but “make every penny count” is a good North Star whether you’re buying a tractor or a forest; not just ads.
In politics there’s no room for the bullshit waste you see in the corporate world. No fancy offices. No huge consultant markups. No inflated salaries. Sure, folks make money, but they make money by showing rock solid results. No results, no cash. It’s that simple.
On every political campaign we handle, we provide a weekly or bi-weekly report showing every single dollar spent with an analysis of what that dollar produced. Every. Single. Dollar. Hell, sometimes those reports are daily, especially after large events such as televised debates or toward the end of a campaign. If a dollar doesn’t produce a desired result in a specific timeline, it gets cut or reallocated. From my experience working with corporate clients, spending can go on and on and on for months without someone really looking into the numbers. It’s effing mind blowing.
In the digital space, we get learnings quickly and make adjustments quickly. It’s all about ROI. For us, that’s the cost per acquisition—how much per click, how much per email, how much per view, how much per dollar.
For your business, it could be any number of things but the question is the same: what am I getting for each dollar spent? And then, how much more could or should I get, and what do I need to do differently to optimize my spending?