Essential lessons every startup and SMB should learn from watching political campaigns

TechRepublic's Dan Patterson and Daniel Scarvalone, director at Bully Pulpit Interactive, discuss how political campaigns are like startups and SMBs, as he examines the lessons every business should learn by watching how political campaigns implement big data innovation.

How political campaigns are like startups and SMBs

TechRepublic's Dan Patterson sat down with Dan Scarvalone, director at Bully Pulpit Interactive on the most compelling uses of data and tech in politics.

Dan Patterson: We're talking about the technology of politics and why it's important to business technology.

If I run a start-up, an SMB, an enterprise company, it's so easy to say, "Politics is the realm of partisanship, I have to focus on business and the bottom line." Can you connect the dots from what we see in the daily news every day, and what we see in election years, to policy and governance?

Dan Scarvalone: I think about business as vertical, it's about marketing of a product or of an idea. Politics is about the marketing of a personality when it comes to the specific figures that we elect for public office, or the marketing of the ideas the person's going to put into place once they get elected.

The core critical difference is that even though both business and politics are marketing, politics is marketing in 18-month sprints. Campaigns are the only business with defined end dates. When the election concludes, it only exists in these defined vacuums of time. People often draw the comparison between campaign and start-ups, and they are.

You have a bunch of people, they get together, they work really, really hard for a short amount of time, they sleep very, very little, but they have a very defined timeline to achieve an outcome. If they achieve 50% market share on election day, that's fantastic, and if not, they're going to be really unhappy for a little while.

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Dan Patterson: Are there KPIs that are analogous, other than that binary win or lose?

Dan Scarvalone: In politics, we think attitudes are the KPIs that campaigns spend a lot of time thinking about prior to election day. How do we change hearts and minds, and how do we hope that change translates to voting at the ballot booth? I would flip it around and I think you're seeing more and more businesses caring less about people's actions and more about their attitudes prior to taking action.

As corporations think more about changing attitudes, and as business thinks more about how to raise awareness, and how to convince people their point of view is correct, this is business moving closer to politics and saying, "We need to focus more on how people feel, as opposed to what they do."

In business, you can observe a long arc of people transacting and finding opportunity, and hope what you're doing is working. In politics, you get one day. We need to come up with better mouse traps to figure out what people feel and how their opinions are changing, as both are equally critical to campaigns as well as business.

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