5 Small Business Tips for the 2020 Milwaukee DNC

When the Democratic National Convention gathers in Milwaukee in July 2020, it will bring over 50,000 delegates, media, celebrities and special interest groups to Southeast Wisconsin where over 1,000 related events will be held throughout the area.
And we know that once the word is out with all this attention, the nation will fall in love with our city’s abundance of creative, passionate small businesses.
If you’re looking to position your small business to use this unique opportunity for a business boost, now’s the time to take action to prepare your brand for the national audiences who will be visiting our town —not to mention, be camera ready for the potential of national exposure and a chance to have an impact on progressive causes.
Here’s our 5 quick tips to make getting started easy:


5 Ways to Prepare Your Brand for the 2020 Democratic National Convention



1. Get Registered

Over the next 18 months Milwaukee’s host committee, the Good Land Committee, will be awarding hundreds of contracts for services including catering, merchandising, event production and transportation. 

These contracts could be related to the convention itself, or for events such as PoliticalFest—a non-partisan, multi-day festival that typically includes exhibits, live performances, games, competitions and panel discussions, all open to the public.

For a chance to bid on the contracts, and to appear in a supplier database for the Milwaukee DNC, you’ll first need to register your business at Milwaukee2020.com.

The Good Land Committee is already focused on hiring local businesses, and has diversity targets for its contractors, too.



2. Identify Your Positioning

While some businesses offer services that are obviously needed during the 2020 DNC—catering, hospitality, transportation, tourism, etc.—not every business has a clear path to relevancy or may be in an area not easily accessible to tourists.

Getting creative can lead to exciting new ways to boost awareness of your business.  Start by taking a real look at the services, products or packages you offer.

  • What value does your business bring?
    • Take care of Fido so visitors have more free time?
    • An authentic Wisconsin experience?
    • Less takeaway, more hotel-friendly healthy meals?
    • Reliable cooling to prevent unhappy guests?
  • What roadblocks are there that keep people away?
    • Too far for driving or ride share
    • Not enough attraction to the area
  • What other businesses in the area could you partner with to add value your product, venue or services?
    • Offering a package of services
    • Coordinating promotion of each other’s business

And, don’t forget, not everyone is here on vacation. Business-to-business services like copywriting/editing, photography, video/filming, etc. can be a big help to teams needing on-the-spot help or local content.



3. Champion a Cause

Milwaukee is no stranger to welcoming large groups into our city, the Democratic National Convention in 2020 will be a unique opportunity for businesses to make a real impact on a national level.

Make an impact on causes you support while political action groups and non-profits are hosting events in the region.

Look for events from progressive organizations such as Emily’s List, who promote pro-choice candidates; the Marijuana Policy Project, CREDO Action, NextGen America and the LGBTQ-focused Victory Fund. Whatever your cause(s) there’s a good chance there will be a related event.

For instance, groups have hosted watch parties, award ceremonies, breakfast events, parades, town halls and more.


“…if you make a journalist’s job a little easier, your chances of getting coverage increase. So investing in a media pack can give your business a big advantage.”


The best way to champion your cause is to get in contact and ask how you can support their Milwaukee plans.

Be open about what you’re able to offer, whether your business can sponsor, donate freebies, host, volunteer, promote, etc.

And, most importantly, listen to what organizers say they need and be respectful of their ultimate plans.



4. Get Media Ready

Thousands of news reporters and producers will be in Milwaukee for over a week—and nearly all of them will be seeking out local stories and exclusive interviews to fill their coverage.

Spend some time this summer updating your venue to make sure it’s camera-ready.  Make sure your photos and videos are up-to-date and your social media accounts are updated. Also, if you make a journalist’s job a little easier, your chances of getting coverage increase. So investing in a media pack can give your business a big advantage.

To find local experts in marketing, PR, photography and more who can help get your business in top shape for the national spotlight, we recommend giving Local First Milwaukee a search.


“…businesses that leave a lasting impression will be the ones that benefit the most long after the convention is over—so now is the time to get going on the branding projects you’ve been procrastinating on.”


Partnering with Visit Milwaukee can also be worthwhile. The tourism bureau played a key role in preparing the bid for the Milwaukee DNC, and they’re certain to adopt some similar promotional tactics as Visit Philadelphia, too. In 2016 Visit Philly launched a media site with press releases, photos, and videos; they created a database of local interviewees, led food and history themed media-tours through the city, hosted pop-up visitor bureaus, organized hundreds of welcome ambassadors and assembled 10,000 welcome bags with local gifts for delegates and media.  

Whether or not Visit Milwaukee follow suit will be up to them, but staying up to date with the value they offer as an organization is highly recommended.



5. Polish Up Your Brand

As well as the economic impact of the convention itself, previous host-cities have experienced a bump in return visits for vacations and convention bookings, as well as an increase in online sales.

The businesses that leave a lasting impression will be the ones that benefit the most—so now is the time to get going on the branding projects you’ve been procrastinating on.

Boost your visibility with updated signage for your brick and mortar location, and up-to-date online presence like Google Maps and social media accounts.

Check the content on your marketing materials like website, brochures, business cards, etc. and make sure your messaging and call to actions are clear.

Small businesses with products can create extra excitement with special-edition packaging or labels. Or flight-friendly packaging to take home with them.





To get started on this last tip, get in touch with us at hello@PrettyLethalDesigns.com.
Read more about our services or sign up for emails for more business branding tips and insights.

Samantha Everett

Branding Specialist & Owner, Pretty Lethal Designs

Samantha Everett is the owner of boutique branding studio Pretty Lethal Designs. Led by a fierce team of female creatives, Pretty Lethal designs specializes in Strategy, Branding & Packaging design for cannabis and hemp businesses.