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Micro-targeting with the Filpac system

Micro-targeting is the process by which we gather data in the hopes of reaching persuadable voters. The secret that most candidates don't understand is that micro-targeting is one of the easier campaign tasks, and that most candidates can do it themselves.

If you're thinking it can be done in Excel, think again. And if someone claims that the answer lies in social media, he or she really needs to read this.

Keep in mind that most voters are not persuadable. The vast majority reflexively vote Democrat or Republican, and there's little you can do about it, except to ensure that your natural supporters get out to vote.

1. The voter file

The most important foundation of any micro-targeting effort is the voter database, which usually is available for free from the state or local election authority.

With the voter file you have not only the person's name, gender and age but you have the names of others in the household. And in most cases you'll have party affiliation and voting history. These are the most important parameters of any campaign.

The Filpac system includes a utility to import the voter database. In many states, including Virginia, there's also a feature to import the periodic voter file updates.

2. Legislative contacts

Holy cow! Just think what can happen when you categorize and code the thousands of emails, letters and phone calls! You can then reach out to voters on the basis of issue preferences, and thereby address them in a manner they'll appreciate. For example, if someone wrote to you about a bill, you can write back months later, explaining that you wanted to follow. That is how you seal the deal with a voter.

With the Filpac system you can apply unlimited combinations of contact codes, list codes and group codes to correctly categorize and, more importantly, recall every every issue and every communication.

3. Donors to other campaigns

One of the mysteries of politics, in our view, is why candidates don't aggressively track the donations made to other campaigns. That creates a ready-made prospect list. Think about it: you're hosting a fund-raiser and have recruited several to help solicit funds. Just think how much more effective you'll be if the finance committee members could each receive donation history of everyone in their town who've given to other campaigns! The information is usually available online and while it isn't legal to use everywhere (the FEC specifically prohibits fund-raising use of its reports) a candidate can develop complete donor profiles in the ares where it is.

The Filpac system includes an auto-import feature that makes it easy to download and store the donation profiles.

4. Precinct targets

It's this simple: an unaffiliated voter (no party registration) in a Republican-leaning precinct is far more likely to vote for you than someone without party affiliation who lives in a base Democrat precinct. And those voters who live in the so-called "ticket-splitting" precincts are most likely the "persuadables" you seek.

Filpac includes a feature where every voter can be assigned a designation based on the voting history of the precinct. No other software offers this feature, largely because Filpac is the only campaign software designed for and sold only to Republicans.

5. Lists, Lists, Lists

Republican candidates can take advantage of the GOP Datacenter's affiliation lists. In many states you can procure lists of hunting licenses and fishing licenses. The possibilities are unlimited when you're using software that makes it easy!

Filpac includes a user-defined import feature that makes it easy for your to load lists from the GOP Datacenter and other sources. With this feature you can easily build profiles on thousands of voters.

6. List Enhancement.

It always makes sense to enhance your file with things like National Change-of-Address (NCOA) processing and deceased suppression. As the terms suggest, these processes remove the deceased and the bad addresses. The cost is minimal, and far less than the money you'll save on your first mailing. You can also add phone numbers -- but beware. In some metropolitan areas the rate of listed phone numbers is only about 20 percent, so any vendor who promises a match rate of more than 45 percent is selling bad numbers.

Note: Email enhancement will deliver email addresses for about 15 percent of the file submitted but it's both expensive -- about 20 cents a match -- and difficult to deploy because email services like Constant Contact will accept only "opt-in" lists, i.e. those where the recipients have joined either by signing up or by sending an email to you. The danger you face is being tagged as a "spammer" will make it difficult for you to effectively communicate even with those who have "opted in" to your email universe.

With the Filpac system you can export all or a portion of your file in a format recognizable by any list-enhancement vendor. This makes it easy to re-import the enhancements the vendor delivers back to you.