What businesses can learn from election 2008
Politics aside, some of the biggest lessons of the 2008 presidential election have to do with marketing. Or more specifically, marketing messages. What can businesses take away from how our candidates have made their cases?
Recently, at my business blog, I shared a few lessons on marketing messaging from the 2008 U.S. presidential election.
If we've learned anything this year, it's that the difference between having a strong message and having a weak message can be stark. And whether you're marketing a presidential candidate, your professional services, a nonprofit cause or a product, crafting a strong message is important.
But that's not all we've learned. The 2008 campaign season, regardless of its winner, offers a number of other reminders for marketers and business leaders.
Here are my top six:
Be remarkable and you get noticed. If you want attention, focus on what makes you different. John McCain's vice presidential pick dominated the news cycle in large part because it was so unexpected. The same can be said for Barack Obama's decision to campaign in states not traditionally competitive for his party.
You can't fake authenticity. This might seem like a no-brainer, but tell that to the Republican National Committee. Their attempt to re-package vice presidential candidate and Wal-Mart hockey mom Sarah Palin with a pricey wardrobe was a public relations disaster. When Barack Obama says he wants to change divisive politics, he invites a deserved backlash for going negative.
Get personal. Let's face it. As marketers, we know this one. Benefits, not features. And not just benefits, but benefits that really hold value for your audience. How often do we forget this? It's not about us; it's about them. That's one reason why every debate performance carries the obligatory references to "average Americans" that the candidates have met on the trail. Note that these voters almost always live in so-called "swing" states.
Communication is more viral than it's ever been. Whisper campaigns via email. Blog posts. Newspaper comment boards. Online fund raising. YouTube. Your customers, clients and donors are out there researching you, looking for ways to connect with you and talking about you. The reality is that even B2B and professional service businesses who insist their work is all network-based are playing in this new environment.
Marketing is a conversation. Barack Obama did not fill stadiums to record levels by talking endlessly about himself. Nor will you attract business that way. Sure, a little background is always in order. But the thousands of people who filled arenas and campaign coffers came because the campaign was talking to them, not about itself.
Consistency, consistency, consistency. Strong campaigns-- whether political or marketing-- must have a consistent message. Barack Obama had a series of interchangeable "change" taglines throughout the campaign. John McCain used and discarded more than nine different campaign slogans during his campaign. No matter your political choice, the results were evident in their media coverage and voter impressions. What does your business deliver? Can your clients and customers tell you that? Or are they constantly trying to keep up as you engage in re-branding, tweaking and jumping up and down to get their attention?
What did you take away this election cycle? How will you be applying it to your marketing efforts?
Learn more about the author, Sally Anne Giedrys.
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- marketing strategy