With the 2014 general election for Massachusetts taking place November 4th, campaigns were in full swing all the way up to the close of polls. Candidates made appearances throughout the state, with campaigns pulling out all stops to encourage citizens to get out and vote.
This is not always the easiest proposition, as studies have shown that politicians do not always have the best reputations. Yet in politics, as in business, there are always winners and losers. And in business, as in politics, those winners and losers are often determined by work done long before a customer places an order or a voter’s ballot is cast.
[Update: You can check out the full 2014 Massachusetts election results here]
That’s why today, we’re looking at three marketing strategies and ideas from the political process and exploring how your business can implement similarly effective marketing strategies in your own campaigns.
Marketing Strategies: #1 - Repetition builds trust
In politics, repetition is used as a way to emphasize key points and create familiarity with a candidate. This strategy is used during political speeches, debates and in campaign literature. Smart political strategists and seasoned marketers know that top of mind status is extremely influential at the most critical stages of customer decision making. Repetitive campaign advertising works with the belief that some sense of familiarity just might tip the scale when faced with deciding a contest that voters had no strong feelings about in the first place.
Marketing for a small business can benefit from the same approach. The more often your target market sees your company name, your product, or your brand, the more they feel a connection with your business. That’s why major corporations pay for the same television and radio ads to be played multiple times throughout the day and include brand colors and logos in every kind of advertisement.
You don’t have to have enormous corporate marketing budgets to have a similar impact. Social media and other digital approaches level the playing field, where the cost to a company is paid in time rather than dollars. Instead of paying big bucks for prime real estate in a magazine or on a billboard, consider well-orchestrated online campaigns incorporating your logo, brand and message across a variety of channels like your website and social media accounts.
Marketing Strategies: #2 - Have a niche and be consistent
In politics, candidates build their campaign platforms by choosing sides on key, current debates. Successful candidates often find success by demonstrating a consistent track record throughout their careers. Inconsistencies are often heavily scrutinized. Inconsistencies can also be extremely detrimental to campaigns, as evidenced by current Secretary of State, and former Massachusetts Senator, John Kerry’s failed presidential bid in 2004. During his campaign Kerry was accused of “flip flopping,” as he was perceived to change his stance on a variety of issues.
Consistency plays an equally important role in business, as long-term business and loyal customers are won and lost through a company’s ability to continuously meet and exceed expectations. These expectations can include everything from consistent product quality to consistent pricing. For prospective customers, early expectations can be set through effective marketing. By choosing the right messaging, you can use your marketing to identify your specialty and attract specific demographics. For example, if you are a lawyer specializing in Intellectual Property protection for startups, your marketing should focus on a concise message identifying the services you provide, an explanation of the markets you serve and some identifying principles that demonstrate your expertise.
Once a prospective customer becomes a client, their expectations are frequently guided by both their most recent experiences, as well as their cumulative relationship with your company. Consider that one more reason to keep raising the bar with customers whenever possible!
Marketing Strategies: #3 - Don’t underestimate the power of print
If you ever wondered about the use of print in modern day marketing campaigns, here is an example of what our mailbox has looked like every day of election season:
That is one day’s worth of mail just before an election that pollsters are predicting will be won by whichever candidate best overcomes expectations of low voter turnout due to voter apathy.
Marketing your company requires a similar approach: using various forms of media and messaging to pique interest, differentiate yourself from competitors, drive traffic (digital or foot), and generate more leads that can be nurtured into mutually beneficial business relationships. Like political candidates, product specifications and client testimonials are a dime a dozen, rarely eliciting strong reactions except from a few passionate users or naysayers.
Adding a print component to your marketing represents a major medium that can be customized to your exact needs in simple ways. Consider the campaign marketing materials in the photo above. Every piece is a postcard of varying weight, varying size and varying color patterns. They range from sedate to screaming loud and each will achieve a degree of success that supplements, if not surpasses, any email campaigns or door to door canvassing that might be undertaken during normal business hours.
Best of all, direct mail and print marketing is often underutilized, which means your message has less competition in printed form.