Marketing lessons of successful political campaigns

Marketing lessons of successful political campaigns

As the 2012 political season draws to a conclusion, we are increasingly bombarded by debates, mailings, television and radio ads, phone calls and messages of all types.

When looking at this mix of promotion, advertising and sales, one is reminded that there are clear lessons learned in the political arena that can be applied to product and service marketing in the private sector.  We believe that there are at least three lessons that transition well from one stage to the other. Let me describe each.

  1. Do not let your competitor brand you. In politics, a campaign will—given the opportunity—generally try to brand their opponent in less than a flattering way to confuse or repel potential voters. Do terms like: “the rich guy, or tax-and-spend”sound familiar? So, how does this apply to a business? Every business should create its own market brand and carefully grow and support it. In doing so, you are simply saying that for which you want to be known in the marketplace. It is part of your competitive advantage, if used correctly. For example, terms like this might apply: customer-oriented, lowest-total-cost of ownership, the high-quality alternative, around-the-clock service, fastest turnaround, etc…

    Establishing and communicating your brand is a strategic decision and can become the basis of success or failure. If you fail to brand your company, products or services, you can expect that a wily competitor will see the opportunity and do it for you—in less-than-favorable terms. How does being described in terms like: “high-priced brand or just average quality” sound to you? They likely sound pretty good to your competitor.

    Can you articulate your brand (in writing) today?

  2. Segment your market.In the past, we have assisted and advised school districts with campaigns to pass voter-approved bond issues for both increased operational spending and construction capital. In designing marketing programs to reach out to potential voters, we always advise the district to focus its entire attention on that core group of residents who consistently vote in every election. Do not waste your money and time elsewhere. As an interesting sidelight, we have often found (based on voter-record research) that many vocal critics or thought leaders regarding political issues or causes do not vote.

    And just as political campaigns must husband their limited resources between voters and nonvoters and swing states and non-swing states, a company must also aggressively apply their marketing and sales resources to the right customers. By right we mean those top accounts with the highest potential to produce increased market share sales and profit contribution. So if you can execute 1,000 sales calls per year, be sure the right accounts are getting 800 of those calls.

    Do not waste time on “nonvoters.”

  3. The best field organization will always win the election.To win an election you must have a large, effective and well-managed field organization in place prior to and on Election Day. This army of operatives is generally calling upon voters, putting up signs, canvassing for support and making sure that “their” voters get to the poll to vote. To be successful takes both people and a focus on those key actions that will likely result in a favorable vote for their side. They work pretty hard in their known market segment, and know that every action counts.

    The private sector equivalent of the political organization is your field sales force. They are visiting with select customers and doing the right things every day that build relationships with customers and close sales. And, the great sales forces are consistently making more sales calls per day than their competitor. That sales force will close more deals (guaranteed).

    Do you have the best sales force in the industry? If so, you will always get more “votes” than your opponent.

So, next time you see a political ad or a politician courting votes, watch what they say and do and think of how their approach or technique can be seamlessly applied to your company.  The similarities will surprise you.

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