Resonate’s Bryan Gernert on Political Campaigns

Bryan Gernert is Chief Executive Officer at Resonate Networks, a company that helps political campaigns and brand marketers to find target audiences online based on their values. The Makegood recently spoke with Bryan about startups and political campaigns.

The Makegood: Bryan, you have a professional history of helping to grow startup companies into successful businesses, for example Cybertrust was sold to Verizon, and Digex had a successful IPO. What is the most challenging part of growing a business and how did you overcome this?

There are many challenges of growing a business from an early stage startup through its evolution  into a large successful company.  That said, and it sounds cliché, but it’s really about hiring great people. Hiring well is a constant challenge and startups require people that are creative,hands on, are willing to jump in, and have a mentality to do whatever it takes.  Finding people with these qualities is always a challenge, no matter what stage a company is in, but it’s most critical in the early evolution of an organization.

The Makegood: You are the CEO of Resonate, a company that helps political campaigns and brand marketers uncover target audiences online based on consumer values. Can you tell us about the focus of your current role?

In the simplest terms, my focus is to put our team in the best position to succeed and grow a company we can be proud of. To me that means making sure what we offer advertisers provides a better solution, that not only performs well, but also provides actionable insights. At Resonate our goal is to provide advertisers with the best way to reach and engage their audiences in the most effective manner possible, specifically through people’s attitudes, values and beliefs, which is really why people support a candidate, cause or purchase a product.

At the end of the day, advertisers want to get their message in front of their target audience at the right time. We connect brands to audiences at the deepest level – shared values and beliefs, which ultimately allows advertisers to have a more meaningful engagement with their audience and influence a decision.

The Makegood: As the 2012 election starts to heat up over the next few weeks, what role will Resonate play?

Resonate’s roots are in politics and we have been extremely successful in that arena.  This campaign season is no different and presents another huge opportunity for us.  For example, last election cycle we ran more than 60 campaigns on behalf of politicians at the local, state and federal level.  This year we are on track to significantly outpace that number.

Additionally, as with most elections hot button issues such as the economy, healthcare and taxes are at the forefront of the campaigns.  Recently we identified voter sentiments in Florida, a swing state and a key state for the presidential candidates.  We found Florida voters are more likely than voters in other states to believe in cleaner environments, more efficient government and strong military when choosing a candidate.  Our data speaks volumes to the issues important to swing state voters and is vital information that political marketers can use to influence decisions of voters.  We take this knowledge beyond understanding electorate to actually making that data actionable by reaching people through online advertising based on the issues that they care most about.  In the end that allows a candidate to put their message in front of people based on what they care most about.

The Makegood: Do you think that brand marketers can learn from political marketers?

Absolutely.  Good political campaigns are masters at quickly building a brand and understanding how to engage with people based on the things that matter most to them.

Political campaigns have been building campaign strategies based on values for years.  Before Resonate they relied on direct mail and phone calls to reach people based on these things.  We have allowed them to take their rich understanding and reach people online.  They understand that an individual’s beliefs and values are what drive them to ultimately make a decision.  Brands however have tended to look more at past behavior and/or demographics to ascertain who to target.  They are missing the opportunity to connect and engage more deeply with their audience members based on shared values, orientations and beliefs with their brand.

The Makegood: Thanks, Bryan.