How donation-based online political campaign stores changed everything

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Before the 2008 presidential election, campaign supporters often received branded political merchandise when they attended a campaign event or when then mailed in a donation to a candidate’s campaign or gave it in person. Now, buying branded items from a campaign’s own retail commerce website is the campaign donation. And those online purchases generate a gold mine of marketing data that campaigns can capitalize on.

Greenville, Ohio-based distributor Tigereye Promotions (UPIC: TIGREYE) has been one the leaders of political online stores since it started the first presidential donation-based campaign store for the 2008 Obama campaign. “We were already providing the campaign with promotional products and once the campaign figured out that they could legally ask for donations through an online store, they asked us if we could help them out,” says Tigereye President Monica Baltes.

Here’s how the process works: according to Federal Elections Commission regulations, a political candidate can’t sell items for profit. But by treating those purchases as a campaign donation, where the product itself is the “premium” that a supporter gets in return for a pledge, campaigns are able to stay within the rules—and gather actionable customer data to further their fundraising and volunteer recruitment efforts. For example, if someone buys a baby item, the campaign could assume that person either has a baby or is close to someone who does, and that children’s issues are important to that person. They can then better target marketing messages and volunteer recruitment communications tailored to that person’s interests.

Donations through Obama’s campaign store just “exploded more than anyone could have imagined,” Baltes says. “It was a huge challenge. The campaign kept asking us if we could find unique items that were both union made and made in the USA. There are not that many manufacturers that do that. There was a lot of shopping and a lot of coordinating with vendors. Our vendors are awesome. They will bend over backwards for us and they make us look good.”

In the 2016 presidential campaign, as well as in statewide and local campaigns, online stores are a now a fundamental necessity. If you’re going to create a campaign store for a political candidate, “Just make sure you get the campaign to pay for the products up front so you don’t get stuck with a warehouse full of products in the event the campaign runs out of money,” Baltes emphasizes.

Five tips for creating an online campaign store

1. Plan ahead. An online store is essentially a business within your campaign or group. Build a business plan including branding, marketing, staff and budget.

2. Emphasize unique messages. What is your campaign about? People are more likely to buy merchandise with a lasting, transcendent message than just a campaign or union logo.

3. Include merchandise in your marketing. Let people know how to get the products you’re offering. Use social media to connect web savvy supporters to the store. Offer a discount code to targeted supporter groups.

4. Supplement the store with premium appeals. A well-placed premium item may whet your base’s appetite for other merchandise and boost your traditional fundraising totals at the same time.

5. Keep it fresh. New designs and new products will give your supporters a reason to keep coming back to the store to make donations.

Source: Tigereye Promotions

These Products Get Our Vote

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Nobody home? This full-color hang tag is the perfect leave-behind.

Beacon Promotions UPIC: BEACONP


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Why Yard Signs Matter

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Source: Arizona Daily Star

Trump Cover

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