The two aren't very different at all.
I had an interesting email conversation with a friend who is running for political office. He had sent me some notes he took from a "21st Century Campaigns" conference he attended. I wish I had known about the conference, because from the notes he passed on to me, it quickly became apparent that the concepts, strategies and techniques for running campaigns are incredibly similar to what we preach and practice in our Chicago real estate marketing business.
Here is the basic text of what I wrote back to him. See if this doesn't dovetail perfectly with the online marketer strategy.
Running an online-enabled campaign is 100% no different than what I do for my business. It is online marketing and lead generation pure and simple. Instead of filling a funnel of people who want to buy or sell real estate, you are filling a funnel of people who are motivated to donate money, volunteer, and vote for you.
Also what is right on is the idea of phone contact, which is the part of developing the relationships people don't like to do. Again, this is 100% identical to what Risa and I have developed as a winning strategy. Fill the funnel from building your list through online means, then someone has to call them and build enough of a relationship so that a sale (or in your case a commitment to donate or vote for you) can be secured.
It's amazing how similar election campaign work is to my work and business model.
Now, in my business, there are many who preach solely working their "sphere of influence" - those people they know (family, friends, fellow church or temple congregants, neighbors, etc.) for referrals or direct business. This is and can be very effective, and can give you a "quick hit." It's simple. Just put out the email to your sphere, make phone calls to them, and ask for business or referrals. But the problem is this: how long can you continue to hit up that sphere of influence and will the sphere of influence be deep enough to sustain you financially and get you elected?
In my opinion, the answer to the question of "will your sphere enough?" is "no." Your sphere has to continually grow so that new opportunities to reach voters can be found on a consistent basis.
Many, many people in my business try to make a career out of managing and growing that sphere, but it is beyond their capabilities due to lack of tools (software to help manage and organize is essential) or lack of understanding in the basic need or ability to put together a strategy and process. These are the people who don't survive the first 12 or 18 months in the business. The statistics are something along the line of 84% drop out after 18 months, with many never completing a transaction. They've probed that sphere reluctantly with limited or no results. They don't know where to go after that.
But the key to success - in either my business or your new one (you have to think of it as your business now, right?) is the effective comibination of the traditonal sphere of influence marketing along with online marketing and sphere growing/managing. Converting the online funnel into members of your sphere then using the phones and personal contacts to develop commitments from the growing sphere is the name of the game.
Howard Dean developed the strategy and methods, and he is right on target. How big is his sphere of influence now as compared to 2002 before his run for President? He had some weakness that voters perceived that kept him from winning, but what he acheived was monumental nonetheless. Also, you have to look at someone like Ned Lamont as a prototype, I think. This guy climbed the mountain and unseated a very high profile, well entrenched, well monied Senator in a primary. It's a feat that almost never is achieved - there are only a handful of people in the entire history of the United States who have been able to do this.
But the conclusion I come up with is reinforced by the article I sent - one party is hammering the data collection and analysis to death and turning it into votes. The other is isn't. Which one is winning, even in a hostile political environment?
Candidates who want to win need to take their games to another level, because getting on the phone to your static sphere of influence isn't going to be enough.
Building your online real estate marketing business and running a modern political campaign is nearly identical.