Regardless of where you stand on the political spectrum, I think we can come to agreement that the Obama campaign was a success. Not only did the candidate win the election, but the campaign applied some of the strategies I talk about every day with our clients. The philosophy was well put by Jon Carson, Field Director for the Obama Presidential Campaign:
“You can have the most inspirational candidate, you can have the best organizing philosophy in the world, but if you can’t organize your data to take advantage of it and get lists in front of the canvassers and take these volunteers and use it in a smart way to figure out who it is we’re going to talk to – I mean, the rest of it is all pointless” (The New Yorker, Nov. 17th, 2008)
This rings so true for our work on commercial districts too. We often talk a lot about the need for data collection, but what happens once the data has been collected? Communities need to learn how to harness the data and organize it to take advantage of it, get it in front of the decision makers and stakeholders (including property owners and brokers) to help them figure out what retailers to talk to and what businesses to support and help grow. In my work, I often tell communities that market analysis is important, but it’s only a small piece of the puzzle. How you interpret it, what you do with it, and how you use it to define your strategic allocation of resources is what differentiates successful execution from a plan that sits on a shelf.