How We Organize

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Musings, tips, and thoughts from the Organizer team

Practice What You Preach: If your platform is green, shouldn’t your campaign be too?

Posted by Rebecca Stone on Aug 27, 2015 12:03:26 PM

Despite the snowball recently thrown in Congress, the opinion of climate change in America is visibly shifting. Most Americans finally accept climate change as a reality and more and more candidates address these environmental concerns when campaigning.  

When we think of candidates who are taking the lead to “go green”, however, we rarely consider their campaigns themselves. Anyone who works on campaigns knows that campaigns use an unimaginable amount of paper. Picture a hoarder with a paper fetish—stacks and stacks and stacks of paper. All while sharing and promoting their environmental concerns and visions.

Old-school politics argue that paper is a necessary environmental evil when running a successful campaign. Volunteers need lists in order to canvass effectively and potential voters need literature to remember a name. But, at Organizer, we think it’s possible to share a vision and be environmentally friendly at the same time.

So, how do you make your campaign as green as your platform? Embrace technology.

Leave the stacks of paper in the early 2000s. With the average city council race using over 1,000 sheets of paper printing lists every week and larger, congressional races, using ½ a tree of paper per week when canvassing, it’s time to find a greener solution. Switch to digital organizing to decrease the environmental impact of canvassing efforts.

Organizer is committed to continuing to help campaigns embrace the efficiency of technology and going green. We cut down the stacks of paper by helping campaigns use technology to facilitate conversation. This allows candidates to successfully influence their voters without destroying a small forest printing lists. Just last year, Organizer helped save 42 trees when switching campaigns from paper to digital.

Don’t wait for Election Day to become environmentally friendly. Show voters that the environment is a campaign priority now. Organizer wants to help your campaign go green this year.

It’s Getting Hot in Nashville’s Mayoral Race

Posted by Rebecca Stone on Aug 27, 2015 12:02:46 PM

Nashville’s 2015 mayoral race is heating up with seven candidates hurdling towards the August 6th primary. As a nonpartisan race with no incumbent candidate, 30% of Nashville citizens are left undecided. This makes the final two months of campaigning crucial in order to secure a victory in the primaries and progress to the runoff in November. With the August date quickly approaching, candidates must ask themselves the question, how do I make it to the runoff? The candidate who will be toasting Jack Daniels and karaoking some Hank Williams Jr. (in true Nashville celebratory fashion) in August, is going to be the candidate who reaches that undecided 30%.

Marketing for the Small Business: The Problem with Digital Advertising

Posted by Ellen Perfect on Aug 27, 2015 12:02:16 PM

The rise in digital marketing in recent decades has brought with it an unprecedented ability to reach a broad range of customers. For a fee, companies can break out of local markets and gain wide exposure with their internet-enabled audience. But for the small business looking to gain traction in its industry, online advertising can be a major financial sinkhole. Here’s why:

The actual cost of digital advertising

The payment structure of Google Adwords is auction-based. Firms can set parameters for how much they are willing to pay for their ad to appear with a particular search keyword. While there are ways to set maximum bids, in order to actually win the auction, small businesses often pay as much as $5-$60 per click–when they are able to win the auction. Adwords is best suited for large companies that have a wide reach and the funds to pay for extensive campaigns with high bids per click. For the small business looking to grow its customer base, it is difficult to keep costs low while not getting outbid by online behemoths.

Limited depth means limited influence

Most people who regularly use the internet have trained themselves to ignore flashy ads, close pop ups, and scroll past sponsored content. So most people are only likely to get a glimpse of your message. And the message you display needs to be highly compelling–without exceeding the word limit of the advertising platform or the attention span of your online audience. The average clickthrough rate for digital marketing campaigns is only 2%, which means that you are only likely to get a lead for 2 of every 100 auctions your ad bid wins.

What are you really paying for? The difference between “click” and “sale”

A click isn’t always a sale. In fact, a click is not even always a lead. Many consumers are simply browsing and, depending on the keyword specificity of your campaign, may not even be looking for what you are selling. There is no guarantee they will accept your call to action on your ad’s landing page, which means you are essentially paying for views, not for leads. For industries that are seeking a specific set of qualified customers, like solar sales, online ads cast too wide a net and force you to pay to generate leads that are not suitable for moving toward a sale.

Digital marketing tools like Google Adwords have incredible reach and can do very big things for large companies. But for the smaller company that is just starting to build a presence, online advertising can pose several significant problems. For these firms, it’s time to remove the digital barrier between salesperson and customer with more innovative and engaged marketing tactics.

How the Solar industry can learn from politics to drive sales

Posted by Ellen Perfect on Aug 27, 2015 12:01:43 PM

Solar power is often regarded as a key part of a green energy future. The technology exists, the power is clean and affordable, and there are demonstrable economic benefits to homeowners and businesses to use it. The industry is ripe for expansion, and yet has not gained the momentum we would expect from such a groundbreaking invention.

Solar suffers from high acquisition costs that are limiting growth. These firms often try to combat this by emulating the digital mass marketing campaigns seen in other industries, but solar is unique in that consumers are generally not seeking out the product of their own volition. So instead of convincing them of the superiority of their solar panels, firms need to focus their efforts first on convincing customers that solar is right for them. What solar salespeople need to understand is that their job relies upon changing the consumer’s existing conceptions about solar energy. They need to convince the consumer to invest in solar panels as a change toward a sustainable future, and not just another appliance.  

So how can solar companies better gain traction with potential customers?

The first step toward increasing the effectiveness of field sales is recognizing that the sales process is as much about advocacy and understanding how to influence the buyer’s mindset as it is pitching the benefits of the product. The second is realizing that there is a model where this is done very effectively: political campaigning.

Change the selling mindset. When it comes to promoting a future that runs on green energy, we cannot make a change without selling the change. To do this, we can look toward political campaign staffers who have been changing people’s opinions door to door for decades. While this is a practice that solar firms are just starting to take note of, spending more time engaging each voter in a face to face conversation has been proven the most effective and efficient means of influencing opinions.

Reach the customer. Perhaps the most important element in making any sale is the marketing platform. Modern marketing is heavily focused on the digital space and many solar power firms fall into the trap of paying for site traffic. It may seem like an attractive way to affordably grow a business, but for most, the end result is unmanageably high acquisition costs and no real leads. In contrast, a political campaign is essentially one very large, time-sensitive marketing blitz for change. And as you might imagine, the people in this industry don’t rely heavily upon digital marketing. What campaign staff have realized over years of refining their methods, and what the solar industry needs to know, is that selling change is about engaging people.

Change the buyer’s mindset. A political campaigner’s job is to gain votes by changing their audience’s opinions about the issues or their candidate’s stance on them. They aren’t selling the candidate themselves, but rather the change that they can bring while in leadership. We see it in political messages and slogans all the time: “a vote for __ is a vote for __.” This slogan format works because in a campaign, the goal is to first convince voters that they want the change, and then make them believe that their candidate will bring it. This same logic can be applied to solar sales. In this industry, the sell isn’t the solar panel itself, it’s the change to solar energy. While a small change to make in a salesperson’s pitch, properly recognizing what the customer actually needs to be sold on can make an enormous difference when it comes to generating real sales.

Taking some lessons from the political field campaign handbook can help solar firms better engage with potential customers and make a huge impact on the world’s energy future. And the world is starting to take note. When more solar firms make this switch on a larger scale, the industry will see widespread growth, much lower acquisition costs, and drastically expanded opportunities to spread the green energy revolution.

Driving Growth through Customer Relations

Posted by Ellen Perfect on Aug 27, 2015 12:01:08 PM


It is often assumed that in order to have a successful business, small companies need to target as many customers as quickly as possible. While customers are ultimately the source of company revenue, there is a vital component that this strategy overlooks. Growing firms don’t just need more customers, they need better, more engaged customers: brand advocates.

The distinction here is a simple one, but it is highly important for facilitating expansion. Customers may choose to purchase your product but be relatively apathetic about your company itself. In contrast, advocates feel so connected to the firm that they actively promote it and will go out of their way to help it succeed. While customers are likely to bring steady revenue until they discover a cheaper competitor, advocates create brand loyalty and convince others to switch to your product.

The challenge of growing a small company is not in reaching more customers, but in finding the best ways to turn customers into advocates:

Make the customer a stakeholder.

The value that feedback can bring to product and customer service improvements is widely understood. Companies can easily use customer surveys to tailor the next product release to customers’ needs or restructure their customer service. Even for firms that aren’t looking to make major product or service changes, asking customers for feedback makes them feel involved and to think of themselves as a stakeholder. By actively promoting transparency and responsiveness in customer service, companies can lay the groundwork for building their customer base into an advocacy base.

Build Public Trust

People feel more connected to another human being than they do a faceless institution. Firms that put an emphasis on treating their employees well and making them visible reportedly do very well when it’s time to count the profits. The visible exposure and positive press builds trust with customers who identify with the average employee. Increasing the interactions between customer and staff can make this more visible and help the customer feel like a part of your brand family. And as one firm’s experience has shown, talking to customers face to face is the best way to get meaningful feedback.

Reimagine Efficiency

The Amazon-owned shoe enterprise Zappos, known for its incredible customer service, purposely eliminates time limits from customer service calls and actively trains its call center employees to have real conversations with customers. This has helped them produce a loyal following of brand advocates that is driving the company’s huge profits. The logic behind this highly successful business model is simple: Zappos puts value on the quality of the interaction, and ultimately each individual customer, and not the number of customers served.

The experiences of companies like Zappos speak to a larger trend that more and more large companies are joining. The Harvard Business Review recently published a study that quantified the reason behind this: companies that put more effort into customer loyalty objectively make more money. So the best way to grow a small business is to integrate these tips from the start. Put in the work to turn your customers into advocates, and your brand advocates will do the marketing for you.

 Ready to get started? Check out our tips on having a great interaction with every customer and borrowing audience-building tips from other industries.

Lowering Your Solar Acquisition Costs

Posted by Ellen Perfect on Aug 27, 2015 12:00:29 PM


Contrary to what many people believe,  the largest difficulty with alternative energy has not been developing the technology, which is becoming more sophisticated every year, but in convincing consumers to make the change. Market research shows that currently, acquiring a solar energy client costs a firm about 49 cents on the watt, or about $3,000 total to convince a single household to go green. In order for the American solar industry to truly thrive, these high acquisition costs need to be steeply reduced. That’s why some firms have begun changing their tactics in order to find more willing customers—without breaking the bank. Surprisingly, this new sales method isn’t a high-tech digital marketing program. Instead, these firms are taking a step toward simplicity by selling solar energy door-to-door. And it’s working.

But what is it about solar energy that makes in-person sales so effective?

Building Trust

Because so many consumers simply don’t have access to enough education on alternative energy and its long-term benefits, switching to solar is seen as a risk. And for the average consumer, a risky investment is not something they can afford. Convincing them to go green, then, is about becoming someone they know and trust enough to take that chance. When each client has a personal company representative that they have connected with face to face and who is willing to patiently guide them through the process, they will feel much more confident about taking a chance on a growing industry.

Spreading Awareness

There is a profound lack of education about alternative energy that makes selling it a very high-maintenance process. Because sales in this industry are, by nature, so time-intensive, in-person sales that favors quality of interactions with each client, rather than a quantity of surface-level connections, will have a high return on investment. Profits, and ultimately the ability to facilitate change, will favor the firms that put the most energy into high-quality conversations with customers.

Targeting Clients

Alternative energy clients need to be chosen carefully. Housing infrastructure, utility territory, and credit score all need to be perfect for the client to be a strong sales lead. Given these specifications, widespread  print or digital marketing will result in a high rate of misses, even among clients who follow up with the campaign. A better option is to target neighborhoods that may have the needed specifications and gather information about the client individually before pursuing a lead. Until there is enough education about solar energy that the average American understands its nuances, customers will not be likely to have the knowledge they need to self-select and seek out alternative energy opportunities themselves. Because of this, the actual cost per sale will be lower for the next few decades in a targeted campaign than if a company were to invest its resources in a wider marketing platform.

Given these new marketing campaigns, the future for solar energy is looking brighter than ever. The industry presents a unique case of corporate giants leveling with customers in order to make a sale. Although seemingly counterintuitive, these large companies have found success by putting more energy into each customer, rather than focusing on reaching as many customers as possible.

Get the Biggest Bang for Your Canvassing Buck

Posted by Rebecca Stone on Aug 27, 2015 11:12:24 AM


Do you know the most cost-effective way to get the biggest voter turnout on Election Day?

Today, it seems as though everyone has a magical formula to increase voter turnout. If you work on campaigns, you’ve probably heard sayings like, “1 part direct mail to 3 parts canvassing is the way we won the election in 2006” or “Phone bank away and voters arrive on Election Day”. But, do these tips have any merit? And would they work for you?

Thankfully, two Yale professors, Donald Green and Alan Gerber, spent the past two decades studying this very question. Their research was published in Get Out the Vote, the benchmark book on evaluating campaign tactics. They analyzed the different strategies and determined which were the most cost efficient. In other words, what was each method’s cost per vote?

Gerber and Green concluded that canvassing is the most cost-effective method to increase voter turnout. The cost per vote canvassing is $38cheaper per vote than sending direct mail and had a measurably larger impact on voter turnout than any other form of voter contact. This cost analysis was created under the assumption that canvassers are paid $16 per hour and have a contact rate of six households per hour. Since, the cost of canvassing is mostly a cost of labor and contacts per hour, if a canvass uses volunteers or creates a method to contact more houses efficiently, the difference in cost becomes even more dramatic.

Even in this digital age, face-to-face contact trumps. Some may perceive canvassing as an old-school tactic, but the research proves it is still the most cost effective and impactful way to influence voters.

Let Organizer help your campaign facilitate more face-to-face conversations and lower your cost per vote. Contact us today.

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