Tales from the campaign: part seven – the door-to-door challenge

[Note: The observations, impressions and interpretations found here are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of Jeff Johnson, who’s campaign this series is about. This series is about the marketing behind Jeff’s campaign. This is part x in a series. Parts one, two and three can be found here (part one), here (part two), here (part three), here (part four), here (part five) and here (part six).]

Conventional wisdom says that you can’t win an election without a superior ground game. I think that only gets magnified in a campaign with no traditional, dedicated media like a local newspaper or television news station – as is the case in Lake Forest Park.

If Jeff Johnson was going to win his election for LFP Council, he was going to have to get in front of as many residents as possible through doorbelling (going door-to-door) – in person and with as many surrogates as possible.

With more than 5,000 households, reaching every home was going to be impossible – especially the apartment buildings. So we decided we wanted to make a dent in every precinct and be efficient while we were there. To that end, we also plotted doorbelling courses with the greatest home density per square mile. That way, we wouldn’t spend too much time simply walking from house to house. (As we learned, many homes are really far from one another and others, while close together, have very long and uphill driveways.)

But our greatest challenge was Jeff, himself.

Everything Jeff has accomplished in his career came from him creating an opportunity and getting the job done. He started his own business, he walked in and started filling needs with the Seattle Outboard Association. He decided on his own to be a stand-up comedian.

In short, he’s never had a job interview, so the idea of walking around to homes he doesn’t know and telling them how great he is was a pretty foreign concept.

I know first hand that Jeff is a pretty humble and unassuming guy, and the idea of bothering complete strangers to talk about himself was a difficult task that I’m not sure he was ever completely comfortable with – even after all the houses he visited.

And this is related to the other issue I think he had. Being a guy who I think appreciates his own privacy and respects the privacy of others, I’m not sure walking up to a house knowing he was going to be interrupting their dinner or their family time was something he really wanted to do. But he did.

What we quickly learned was that I was having much more success going up to doors and speaking FOR Jeff. One of the peculiar stats from his website was that the citizen endorsements page was the second most visited page. Likewise, I think it almost meant more to people that I was willing to doorbell for Jeff than if he’d gone to the door himself.

Generally speaking, word of mouth is so powerful in marketing because when someone advocates a product or service or candidate, they seemingly have no vested interest. It almost lets a person know that it’s OK to vote for this candidate… you won’t be the only one.

So I ended up doing a lot more than I had originally planned. I would walk up to the door and say:

“Hi, my name is Jon, and I wanted to talk to you quickly about the upcoming Council elections.

My neighbor, Jeff Johnson, is running for Council, and he’s been a really great neighbor to me, so I thought I would stop by and help him get the word out to consider him for Council.”

All sorts of conversations followed this standard opener, but I would guess that I left 90% of the houses with which I engaged convinced they were going to give Jeff serious consideration – if not their outright vote.

Doorbelling’s not easy, but Jeff and I had both resolved early on that we didn’t want to have the election end, lose by 10 votes and wish we’d only doorbelled a little more.

As his lead is now about 130 votes, I feel that even more strongly now.

Click here for part eight, which focuses on the revelation that changed and defined the campaign.

– My name is Jon Friesch, and every time I type my name here, Google moves this blog a few more spaces up for “Jon Friesch” search results.

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6 Responses to Tales from the campaign: part seven – the door-to-door challenge

  1. Pingback: Tales from the campaign: part eight – the revelation | Q Logic

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  3. Pingback: Tales from the campaign trail: part ten – marketing judo | Q Logic

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