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Win-Win in Politics Starts with Predictive Dialers

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February 23, 2007

Win-Win in Politics Starts with Predictive Dialers

By David Sims, TMCnet Contributing Editor

If predictive dialers can go after delinquent utilities customers, warn people of impending natural disaster and entice pro basketball fans to buy tickets for home games, why can't they woo undecided voters?
According to reporter Nick Paranjape, Memphis Light Gas and Water is "stepping up its efforts to collect more than $5 million from customers who haven't paid their bills in more than 90 days."
A utility official involved with the collection told Paranjape that "We expect our customers to contact us by telephone and then we will also use our predictive dialer to make customer contact to request payments."
And in the face of looming disasters such as hurricanes, predictive dialers, as TMC's (News - Alert) own Stefania Viscusi wrote last summer, "provide an effective way to communicate quickly to phones and cell phones to warn residents of the dangers they face."
With a predictive dialer or a HYBRID dialer, Viscusi wrote, "alerts to first responders, government officials and those critical in these situations are possible. Pre-recorded notifications such as detailed directions about where to go or not to go, how to get medical help, shelter and other safety instructions are all vital in these situations."
And officials of the Memphis Grizzlies NBA franchise were looking for ways to put more rears in seats in their snazzy new $250 million FedExForum, which has, according to Dennis O’Connor, Vice President of Ticket Sales and Service for the Memphis Grizzlies, "over 18,000 seats to sell for each game. We need to be creative to entice fans to fill up the arena."
So the team had rookie forward Rudy Gay record an audio message inviting fans to games with special promotions. The message was delivered to a database of 6,000 fans that had purchased single-game tickets over the past year. The team sold 1,500 tickets, resulting in $33,000 in sales with that one call campaign, which cost $650 to make, more than enough to purchase a dialer system.
Predictive dialers make sure someone's answering before they have the agent pick up the call and can be targeted to specific calling criteria -- has led some to think they would help a politician contact registered voters. The success of such predictive dialing efforts – are one of the new tactics used by today’s savvy politicians.
Outbound phone commercials -- be sure to check the numbers against the Do Not Call list, all eager beavers out there -- can assist election campaigns by helping increase voter turnout, enhance fundraising and implement opinion polls; such applications are available in a good political broadcasting package. How many times has any Politician called you to ask for your support? I bet most of the time you received political junk mail but no phone call follow-up.
A politician can create a hotline to take a poll or talk to voters, and a smart database decision can be tweaked to contact only registered voters living in certain districts. As politicians are borrowing more and more of the useful practices from sales and advertising in getting their message across to voters, using predictive dialing techniques is a natural step in improving the control and efficiency of their phone efforts. It actually maybe more cost effective than any other medium, saving the funds in the political war chest and helping last minute voters make up their mind on how to vote in close races.
As one political campaign expert said, predictive dialing helps in placing your message with a voter who actually votes and researching which precincts have the highest voter turnout -- "don't waste your campaign dollars in areas that have little or zero voter turn out." Politicians can use their time and money to sway undecided voters and encourage their supporters to actually get off the couch and go vote for a common cause.
Christa Heibel of CH Consulting LLC wrote on TMC last November that politicians are taking advantage of the technology: "Targeted lists and traditional predictive dialing technology are still used to conduct live telemarketing, but now these strategies are augmented by auto calls. Pre-recorded messaging is a cost effective way to reach a large audience in a short period of time increasing voter awareness and improving get out the vote efforts."
And there can even be some creativity:
"Friends, this is Mitt Romney, and when's the last time Massachusetts has had a president? You know, I can't remember either, probably somebody like John Adams, but hey, how about a Republican from Massachusetts? Neh-vuh! That's why I'm running for…"
You, uh, get the idea. John Adams used word of mouth, maybe the next president will use a Predictive dialer to get elected, and then use it to get feed back from “WE THE PEOPLE”.
David Sims is contributing editor for TMCnet. For more articles please visit David Sims’ columnist page.

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