Political Lessons That I Learned from the Boardroom

dan centinello's political lessons from the boardroom

A disturbing trend has taken hold in the American political arena. According to information shared by the United States Election Project, voter turnout has been steadily declining ever since the elections of 1964. In 2014, that number hit a record low of 36.4 percent, the lowest turnout since World War II. Some may point to the fact that those were midterm elections, and that the voting public is really only spurred  into action during general election years. However, this ever-growing absence from the polls highlights a political apathy that can present a monumental challenge for campaign officials.

What Are Voters Really Looking For?

Why is it that so many voters today seem disillusioned? With today’s round-the-clock media cycle, they’re constantly bombarded on all sides by competing messages. Is it any wonder that eventually they would just choose to curl up in the proverbial corner with their hands over their ears? In many instances, they’re looking for more subtle signs to help determine their confidence in a candidate, one of these being the manner in which his or her campaign is conducted.

If you are a political campaign manager or strategist, take a page from the book of business marketing’s best practices. First, consider the importance of brand loyalty when it comes to building and promoting a business that consumers can trust. Could a company hope to make it a splash by investing all of its efforts in marketing while spending little to no time focused on maintaining its operations?


And the same goes for political campaigns. Shortcomings that such a mismanaged business would suffer can just as easily be experienced by a mismanaged campaign.

Running Your Campaign As You Would Your Business

Conversely, by applying the same principles that the best companies rely upon to retain consumer confidence to the campaign trail, you prove to voters that your candidate is capable of fulfilling his or her promises. With this in mind, here are five business management strategies every campaign should follow:

  • Establish a culture: Those companies whose employees are engaged in its culture care more about its outcomes. Similarly, an engaged voting base is more likely to campaign on your behalf.
  • Hire a capable staff: No company (or campaign) can succeed without having a qualified staff to rely upon.
  • Plan, then execute: Successful businesses begin with the end in mind. Envision your desired outcome, and then go about making it happen.
  • Analyze and prioritize: Executives often care most about the areas where performance is falling short. Knowing this will help you see where resources need to be allocated to reinforce your efforts.
  • Budget, budget, budget: Fundraising is only half the job; voters want to see that those dollars are being spent wisely.

Ideally, every campaign should be an audition for the office that your candidate is pursuing. Voters are watching how you handle yourselves behind the scenes almost as much as they are listening to the message you’re trying to put out. Understanding this offers you a key advantage over the ‘win-at-all-costs’ crowd whose desperation is readily apparent to the general public. Just as is the case in the corporate world, choosing instead to stick to sound business management strategies will greatly increase your chances of achieving success in the end.


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