Betsy Ankney, 2017 AAPC Campaign Manager of the Year, led Senator Ron Johnson’s successful reelection campaign in 2016. On May 2nd, Betsy sat down with a member of the opposing campaign, Larry Huynh, Trilogy Interactive, for a special insider’s interview on lessons learned and strategies used during one of Wisconsin’s closest Senatorial races. Read on for Betsy’s crucial takeaways and insight into her winning strategy.
Betsy’s Lessons Learned:
1) Stay positive and focused on your goal while tuning out negative press. Strategists constantly second-guessed the Ron Johnson campaign, but you have to keep your team focused solely on your operation.
2) Polls are important, but it is more important to trust your team and your plan. Don’t let the polls stop you from fighting for your candidate. In the beginning, Ron Johnson was down in the polls by double digits, but hard work and creativity got the team their victory.
3) Don’t let the idea of a deficit faze you. Betsy and her team knew they would be outraised and outspent by the other candidate, but they didn’t back down. They went into the race with their eyes wide open, ready to fight for their candidate. Scrap for everything and work both harder and smarter than the opposing team.
Campaign Strategies Used:
1) The team motto was, “Fight for that inch”. Every inch mattered, every dollar mattered and every team member mattered. Ultimately, each small victory was part of a much larger win.
2) The campaign took a deep dive into the electorate and created a plan for targeting voters they knew would help them win. For Betsy and her team this meant targeting small towns in northern Wisconsin as these areas had a higher percentage of swing voters.
3) The campaign focused heavily on rural digital ads—even showing ads in grocery store checkout lines. This tactic was not only creative, but also low cost. Additionally, they ran positive ads and optimistic story lines in an otherwise tumultuous political climate, ultimately focusing on what Ron Johnson had done for the people throughout his years in politics–a tactic his opponent failed to run.
4) They stopped tracking polls ten days out. This ultimately saved the team $100,000 to use on other media for a final push before election night.