Success Story: Coveyou Campaign
Updated: May 15
Mission Control's first project after launching the LLC in May was a daunting one: a local election to unseat a three-term incumbent. But one website, 150 yard signs, 6,000 mailers, hundreds of flyers, and countless hours later, I get to celebrate. WE WON!
The nonpartisan campaign to elect David Coveyou to the Great Lakes Energy Board of Directors, District 1 (Emmet County) seat took off mid-May after David called me up. A farmer and small business owner (not to mention father of four), he was already swamped and asked if I could take the lead on this "side project."
"The ballots come in the mail at the beginning of July, so we don't have a ton of time," he said. "I wish I could have jumped on this earlier but this is the worst timing for a farmer. I need someone to take the reigns with this. Would you be interested?"
A chance to expand renewable energy, help out a community leader, and build my freelancer toolbox? I said, "Heck yes."
Even though I was travelling, I was able to get the Wix site published by the end of the month. The goal was to appeal to everyone: republican and democrat, rural and urban, young and old. The colors, themes, and language throughout the site served as a great template for the rest of the marketing materials we developed as the weeks wore on.
Next came collaboration with Alex Childress, a photographer and videographer who put together some great clips to reach the voters. We got those uploaded as well as a Facebook page up and going. I began to produce some organic content while I jumped through the required hoops to create paid ads (spoiler alert: this was a three-week process).
While waiting to get verified, I created a handful of different flyers for David's on-farm market in addition to newspaper ads. Another big project was the EDDM mailer: we sent a 7" by 7" double-sided card to basically all the residents living outside of the cities of Petoskey and Harbor Springs (those residents would be getting their electricity from municipal sources, not through Great Lakes Energy, so they couldn't vote in the election).
At the same time, we had about 150 yard signs produced through Mitchell Graphics. My friend and colleague Jen played a huge role in dispensing them throughout Emmet county. We spent an entire Sunday taking the scenic route up through the districts and dropping a few dozen off for friends and known supporters (and stopped for a crisp cider at Pond Hill Farm on the way back down).
When the ballots finally hit the mailbox the week after Independence Day, we felt READY! Coincidentally, our branding even matched the Michigan Country Lines ballot cover!
Even though the election was "open" and accepting votes until August 19, 95% of members either threw the ballot away or turned it in within a week or two. So, with our Facebook ads approved, we targeted our outreach and urged GLE members to vote, vote, vote. David also had LOTS of signage in the farm market, driving his everyday customers to support him, too.
Strategies like these made all the difference. Our campaign was everywhere: in the news, on the side of the road, in yards, in the paper, and in conversations throughout town.
As we neared the end of the voting period, we learned that a like-minded candidate running for the neighboring county seat, Charlevoix/Cheboygan, was still scrambling to get the word out about their campaign. While I wished things could have gone differently for their campaign, it gave me a sense of confidence about ours. We had accomplished so much in a short amount of time, and the best part is that we weren't feeling that last-minute panic. Such an unexpected relief!
The moment of truth arrived on August 25, three months after the site went live: we won!!
Not only did we score a win for Emmet county, but we moved pieces around the political table. With David taking the District 1 seat, the previous incumbent was also removed from the Wolverine Electric board, pushing another advocate of clean energy on and into a more influential position. It's so neat to see that internal game of chess play out, and to know that you had a hand in its positive outcome.
I happily joined in on a small celebration on the farm market's back deck, toasting to a job well done.
The campaign was a fun, collaborative, intense, and exhilarating ride. I couldn't have asked for a better first project for Mission Control!