State Policy Network
Communications Case Study: Center of the American Experiment’s “Let Minnesota Golf!” campaign hits hole-in-one for Minnesota golfers

In the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, the Minnesota Governor shut down businesses to slow the spread of the disease—including the state’s golf courses.

Many Minnesotans were frustrated to lose access to this pastime. Golf is one of the few activities where people can maintain social distancing, and the sport allows people to get exercise, fresh air, and Vitamin D, which studies show can help ward off viruses like COVID-19.

The Center of the American Experiment (CAE) wanted to help golfers get their game back. With a budget of just $5,000, American Experiment launched a campaign to encourage the Minnesota Governor to reopen the state’s golf courses. Within seven days, Minnesota’s Governor signed an executive order that allowed the state’s golf courses to reopen. Here’s how CAE accomplished rapid success on a shoestring budget.

SPN: Tell us about the nuts and bolts of your campaign.

American Experiment: We took to Facebook to get the word out. We purchased ads that drove Minnesotans to a landing page with a petition where they sent emails to the governor and legislators demanding that golf courses reopen. We also activated our owned email audience with action alert emails, drove organic traffic through Twitter and Facebook, sent a push notification through our website, and worked with our allies to get the word out through their owned audiences. Within seven days, the governor and legislators had received 2,610 emails from American Experiment’s supporters.

SPN: Who exactly was your audience?

American Experiment: Through Facebook targeting, we focused primarily on men and women interested in golf in the Twin Cities area. We had plans to expand this audience later, but we didn’t need to since the campaign was quickly successful. We measured the impact on this audience by the performance of our Facebook ads, which was stellar, at a cost of $0.63 per result.

SPN: What do you think made this campaign so effective? Were there certain tools that made the project work?

American Experiment: What made this project effective was that we had our ear to the ground and knew that reopening golf courses was a simple message people would easily get behind. Realizing this, we were able to act quickly. Our promotion immediately took off on Facebook, as Minnesotans love golf and were eager to get outside after a long winter. Using our Congress Plus email campaign tool, paired with a simple landing page, was the best way to increase conversions.

SPN: What lessons did you learn along the way?

American Experiment: We learned that sticking to simple, targeted issues is a great way to appeal to and grow our audience. The only problem we encountered was that the tool we were using to contact legislators had usability issues that required a technical workaround. Because we took the time to fix the issues during this campaign, we can hit the ground running during the next, much larger, campaign.

For their work to encourage the governor to reopen Minnesota’s golf courses, Center of the American Experiment is a 2020 SPN Communications Excellence Awards Finalist for the Creative Shoestring Budget Award.

Categories: State News
States: Minnesota
Organization: State Policy Network