4 Billion-Dollar Business Lessons From The Election

Valuable Marketing Tactics Learned from Campaign Pros

Voting ballot formWell, thankfully the election is finally over! Personally, I heard so many rants on both sides of the aisle that I found it nearly impossible to keep facts straight by the time Election Day rolled around, or even REMEMBER who ‘said what’, ‘did what’, or ‘voted on what’ at that point.

But with that being said, the election coverage this year has brought us some very valuable lessons for building hugely successful marketing campaigns. You just need to hope that your competitors aren’t deploying the same strategies.

As much as we’d love to believe that most Americans did their own research: keeping an open mind to ideas and talking points from both sides, reading up on the candidates, and amassing knowledge from multiple sources; the truth is that most votes were likely based on the snippets of advertisements we saw/read/heard, likely from one or two of our daily sources, or from deeply-ingrained beliefs regarding only a few of the topics we cared about.

From a political standpoint, the above is concerning on a number of levels. But from a marketing standpoint, there are several lessons that can be learned by how the campaigns are delivered to ‘We, The People’.

Here are some of the key points we’ve seen have a major impact, and ways they can be used to promote YOUR company or organization:

The Audience

  • Our political candidates KNOW who their audience is, and who it is not. There’s a reason that some states will see candidates repeatedly, while others only see them on TV. A candidate’s time is limited and spent very strategically, as candidates work on pulling in those ‘undecided voters’ (ie: the people who are ‘in the market’ and will likely vote but aren’t sure yet which box they’ll check).
  • The Lesson for Businesses:
    • KNOW your audience. Define them. Write down their traits, characteristics, lifestyle choices, and demographics. Develop a ‘perfect client profile’ for your target customer, and include as many details as possible.
    • Find out where your ‘perfect client’ spends his/her time. Do they belong to specific groups? Are they regular TV viewers, newspaper readers, Facebook users, or Pinterest pinners?
    • How does your audience make purchase decisions? Are they influenced by others? Trusting of media or 3rd party sources? Do they spend a lot of time doing research and comparing products and services?
    • Once you’ve determined WHO your audience is, WHERE they spend their time, and HOW they make decisions, use that information to place YOUR business in front of them. If your audience is not comprised of people who actively use phonebooks to find information, then don’t spend your budget advertising there, EVEN IF your competitors do. This will help you make better use of your limited resources in the places where your audience spends their time.


The Image

  • Ever notice that the presidential candidates regularly wear simple, well-tailored suits, ties that reflect their party’s colors, an American flag pin, and well-kempt hair? Notice that they arrive in a style that’s very well put-together but not flashy, and their facial expression is usually suited to the occasion (concerned, smiling, laughing, etc.)?
    • An entire book could be written on this subject, but the bottom line is that there are teams of people in charge of making sure that the candidate’s ‘brand’ is reflected in every aspect of their visual representation, no matter how small it may appear.
    • A candidate driving an American-made hybrid clearly shows that they “care about the environment, and support the American worker”. A luxury sports car just wouldn’t have the same effect.
  • The Lesson for Businesses:  Be aware that prospective clients and customers will pick up on the slightest detractions from your brand’s intended message.
    • Is your storefront signage in need of repair or new lighting?
    • Do your business cards and handouts reflect the image you want to portray?
    • Does your website stand out from the crowd while conveying your INTENDED vision in the first few seconds?
    • If not, you’re likely losing many prospective customers who are making decisions based on their first impression.


The Sound Bite (yes, we looked that up: it’s not ‘byte’)

  • Do these phrases sound familiar? “Read my lips, no new taxes”, “the 47%”, “the 1%”, “he was for it before he was against it”, “flip-flop”, and “I love Big Bird”?. Well, they should sound familiar, because you’ve probably heard them, repeated over and over, on radio, news programs, late-night TV, and in political discussions for weeks, months, or years.
  • The Lesson for Businesses:  If you can get your complex message across in a simple, easy to remember, and easy to repeat sound bite, you’ve hit the marketing jackpot. With so many mediums competing for your audience’s attention, you’ll find that a descriptive sound bite which can be easily dropped into conversations and remembered will do wonders for your business. Even better if you can get the media to pick it up and promote it for you.


The Headline

  • Elections are won on headlines. Okay, maybe this is not exactly the case, but a catchy headline, with just the right amount of ‘curiosity factor’ will get your audience’s attention, and usually pushes them to read the article to learn more. On this one, though, businesses have far greater opportunities than political candidates, because the business can usually control the headline.
  • The Lesson for Businesses:  Craft headlines that demand attention and include the ‘curiosity factor’. Here are a few of the places these should be deployed:
    • In your Email Marketing campaigns:
      • There is nothing more boring than an email subject line that reads: “Our October Newsletter is Here”. If you’re looking to increase your open rates and get prospects to pay attention to your message, your subject lines should be unique, attention-grabbing, and/or curiosity-inducing, such as: “Increase Web Traffic 40% with This 2-Hour Strategy”, etc. I promise you, a few extra minutes spent on this one task will do wonders for your campaigns.
    • Facebook & LinkedIn post titles:
      • These offer a great opportunity to give people a REASON to click on your post. And the titles will also need to stand out in a never-ending stream of competing posts.
    • Blog Post titles:
      • If you can get some keywords in here, even better for search engine indexing!
    • Print Ad & Handout Headlines:
      • A compelling headline and a high-quality image are enough to get your audience to stop for a few seconds and pay attention to your message.
        • Not sure this is true? Head to your local bookstore, and pay attention to which covers catch your eye. I’ll bet they hit the cover image and title on-target.

The bottom line is that no matter which candidate you voted for, they have all given us some amazing examples of how to, and how not to, market a brand.

Do you have any lessons to add that weren’t included here? Please include them in the comments below!