A Word About those Clipboard Wielding Hippies

In today’s AdAge, Peter Madden decries the use of “clipboard wielding hippies” for canvassing supporters on the streets of Philadelphia.  The title of his editorial pretty much says it all: “Anti-Social Marketing Makes Me Dislike Your Charity.”

Everyone’s focusing on social media these days.  And in many ways, social media is great because it reduces the barriers to interpersonal communications.  But it doesn’t eliminate them.  And with the high volume of electronic communications being generated today, how else can an organization reach its target audience?

We can all agree that being approached on the street for a donation or petition signature is annoying.  But the simple fact is, these tactics work.  There’s a reason why the Church of Latter Day Saints, with its millions of missionaries, is one of the fastest growing religions in the world.   And why successful politicians spend much of their energy canvassing door-to-door and making thousands of phone calls to potential voters.

The very word evangelism (as in brand evangelist) comes from the early Christian church and their tactic of “going out into the world and spreading the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).

The challenge?  These tactics are hard to organize because people are reluctant to volunteer for them.  Believe me, we had a heck of a time recruiting volunteers to participate in Friends of Mimi Carter phone banks in 2008.  But for groups that can pull this off, and make it part of their integrated marketing campaigns, the payoffs can be substantial.

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