I don't envy people working in political communications. When election season rolls around, they're begging everyone for money, 24/7. How do you get even your most engaged, enthusiastic supporters to continue to open those emails when they know exactly what's waiting for them on the inside?
I'm on the mailing lists for a number of political candidates. I've seen them use just about every tactic to solicit a donation - begging, pleading, guilt-tripping, promise-making, inspirational-quote-sharing -you name it, it's been done.
But last week, I got an email from Elizabeth Warren's campaign that tried something entirely new: they didn't ask for money at all.
Instead, they opened with this subject line: "Happy Friday! Had a ruff week? Here are a bunch of pictures of Bailey." (For those not in the know, Bailey is Warren's very adorable golden retriever.)
What followed was just that - a bunch of cute puppy pictures!
And that was it. A series of dog photos and a nice thank you. Of course, she is running a grassroots campaign and does need to raise some coin, so at the very bottom of the email there was a link to donate, but it was not the central focus of the email at all.
I thought this was such a smart move on her campaign's part. First of all, puppy pictures have been scientifically proven to be irresistible (literally), so I bet their open rate was bananas.
And second of all, this email made me happy. Yes, I did have a ruff week! Yes, I would like to see a baby golden retriever gleefully romping through the snow! How did you know?
In the world of politics, which can so often turn nasty, don't you want to be the campaign that can put a smile on someone's face? Way to build positive associations with your brand!
And more than any of the other emails from candidates who were hounding me for money (dog pun absolutely intended), this is the one that made me want to throw some dollars Warren's way.