What is CiviCafe
Who am I
“What is CiviCafe?”. That is hopefully the question you have as you come to this site, so let me start by introducing myself. My name is Karl Tatgenhorst, I am (or have been) a technologist, a digital marketer and a third party political candidate.
What Experiences Shaped CiviCafe
CiviCafe is the result of what I have witnessed and been a part of with regard to the American political landscape. In the year 2,000 I was working as a Systems Administrator for a gourmet food import company in Chicago. While there, I saw that Al Gore had launched an e-mail list. His use of that was a bit better than the Par for the Course he was playing. I was fascinated by his use of it. Later, I believe, he turned the list over to either Bill or Hillary Clinton (probably Bill) and ultimately (in terms of my knowledge) it went to Barack Obama.
I had gone back and forth in political parties during that time, but continued watching that list as I felt they were changing how campaigning happened. I had not seen anything yet. Obama took office just as I started working IT in a digital marketing firm, and the things he did paralleled services we offered (or blew them out of the water).
I had watched predeccesors on that list send out emails “You saw what they did yesterday and heard what so and so said, this is why we need to strike hard. Send me $5 so we can mobilize.”. Well, that appeal was not well crafted emotionally, it was after people processed it etc…
What More Could Marketing do for Campaigns
Obama’s campaign relied on APIs (Congress and SCOTUS have one) and for example during a contentious Congressional vote, Obama would (IMO) pre-write a response to a yes vote and a no vote.
If Congress voted in favor of what he was campaigning around that vote “Oh my gosh, Congress has heard us and they are afraid. They know our strengths and numbers. They are signaling their desire to work with us. I can’t fail with you behind me, thank you. This is a time where we need to gather our strengths, I hate to do this but I need to ask again to have you reach in your pockets and send what you can.”
The no vote “They feel that a few discouraging incidents will make you lose HOPE, I know that isn’t true. we need to rise up and show them the you are ready for the long haul. We are so close, don’t give up. We just need this momentum to keep building, and to do that we are going to need some small donations. You give what you can, and I will continue to give my all on your behalf.”
So, both responses were emotionally designed to resonate, but here is the kicker. The vote happened, the Congressional recorders input the numbers into the system and about 15 minutes later the API put out the results. While Obama slept comfortably in his bed, the appropriate response went out to his email list. Additionally, the pre-written press release went out to the media. When other candidates woke up to read the news and craft their response, the front pages were all full of Obama’s responses. Meanwhile, his supporters were getting ready for work and quickly making a five dollar donation while they were passionately consuming Obama’s take on it.
This Marketing Automation changed political campaigns forever. Whatever you might think of President Obama, his wealthy opponents were gathering million dollar donations after grandstanding all night and listening to single issue donors. Obama was raking in millions by breakfast, from a diverse and energized base… and then going to those functions in the evening and ALSO getting those donors. Revolutionary.
Later I became a Libertarian and sought office. We lacked all that infrastructure and connectedness, but through frugality and force of will we operated 7 times more efficient (that is donor dollars performed 7 times greater) than our old party opponents. My friend Dan Drexler approached me and had the same observations about Obama’s campaign. Dan was Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Indiana at the time and asked me to chair a committee to look at that and see what we could act on. The committee never got around to an actionable goal and I attribute that partly to my own leadership of the group. However, much of what would become CiviCafe was taking shape in my mind and I had become a partner with CiviCRM which would be the corner stone of my efforts.