Let’s put our bipartisan hats on for just a moment (is that even possible in today’s political climate?). But let’s at least pretend for a few moments and take a look at this year’s election cycle purely from a marketing standpoint.
There are some fascinating lessons to be learned. In fact, I’ve identified five of them (so far) and it’s still early. Here they are.
- Know Your Target Audience. Love him or hate him, one thing we have to say about The Donald is that he has done a damned fine job of knowing his audience and tapping directly into their emotions, fears, uncertainties and doubts. He’s done this so well that even one of his followers said, “Nothing short of Trump shooting my daughter in the street…[is] going to dissuade me from voting for Trump.” Wow. Just wow. How many businesses would love to have that same level of customer loyalty? Well, you can. It all starts with knowing your data, knowing your audience and appealing to them in an emotional manner. If you do this, you’re as golden as Trump’s Sharpie.
- Know Your Own Brand. Let’s flip to the Democrats for this one. Bernie Sanders’ entire campaign has been based on his brand of not being beholden to Wall Street; but to Main Street. This is his brand; this is his key differentiator. His campaign, as he so often repeats, was built on an average of $27 contributions from regular citizens like you and me. That’s what makes him stand out and that’s what he drills in each and every stump speech on the campaign trail. When a company knows their brand – the one singular thing that makes them different – they can be very effective at positioning themselves against their competitors. Even the big competitors.
- Be Out There in a Great Big Way. We absolutely have to go back to Trump for this one. His campaign has been so audacious, but in a surprisingly effective way. He’s everywhere. He’s captured the media’s attention because of what he does and says and that has resulted in huge (or as Sanders would say, YUGE) ratings bumps. So don’t look for that coverage to diminish anytime soon. Companies can learn a lesson here, too. Those companies who hold back their marketing budgets are “quiet” or “timid” in comparison to competitors are going to lose mindshare. It’s just that simple. If you have a great business or great product but aren’t shouting it from every mountaintop where your customers are listening, you may as well pack it up. Go big or go home.
- Trust Your Brand. This is different than knowing your brand. And for this one, let’s talk about Hillary Clinton. Her campaign has been steady and unwavering, and even unapologetic. She trusts her brand and she’s confident that it will ultimately prevail over Sanders. She’s not dodging the controversial points in her career; she’s addressing them and moving on. Companies can learn a lesson here, too. When you trust your brand, you can thwart any setbacks. People, for the most part, understand that no one is perfect, and no company is perfect. If you trust your brand, you can navigate your way through good times and through bad times and still keep your customer base loyal.
- Portray Yourself Confidently. I’ve seen this one across the board with all of the candidates, yet some are better than others. They sell their campaigns with total confidence in their beliefs and their way forward for America. When someone portrays this level of confidence, we can’t help but want to follow. Who you follow really boils down to your emotions, your beliefs, your fears or whatever other characteristics motivate you to buy something or buy into The lesson here for businesses and their marketing approaches is evident. Review items 1-4 from my list, figure out your audience, your brand, get your positioning out there in a big way and trust your products or services and communicate your leadership confidently and proactively.
No matter who you’re voting for, learning toward, or running away from, there’s no denying that there are some fascinating figures in this election cycle and several marketing lessons to be learned from each of them. But just remember one important thing – always be honest about your products and services and your competitors.
In our climate of mud-slinging and hand comparisons, it’s very easy to forget that honesty and dignity still matter. But they sure do, especially in the era of social media where lies, gaffes and exaggerations can be fact-checked – or mocked – and shared out within seconds.
And the final takeaway is this: If you market correctly and consistently, you can not only have a Super Tuesday, but your Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday will be pretty great, too.