With the first big debate finished up this past week, it is very interesting to look at the political scene as it relates to marketing. That is, how will the many different candidates look to position themselves in the eyes of the public? What is the “persona” that they want us to identify with?
This is not too much different from many businesses that find themselves competing against each other – some with deep pockets to promote themselves, and others with a very grassroots approach due to limited budgets. Whether in politics or in business, the critical goal is to stand out – to communicate why it is that you are different, and then the value there is in doing business with you, or in the case of politics – voting for you! This is perhaps one of the biggest reasons that Donald Trump is faring so well in the polls right now – people see him as being an alternative to the typical politician, and one who is not afraid to speak his mind, scary as that may be!
What does make it interesting in the world of politics though, is that it is often okay to “bad mouth” or pick at your competitors! In business, this is typically not suggested – rather we tend to take the “high road” and concentrate on selling ourselves instead. As the elections get much closer next year, this will likely even increase.
Another similarity between business and politics, is that often a candidate will receive endorsements from well-respected colleagues or individuals. This is critical in the world of business too! We need to have our supporters share the word and encourage others to try our services or products. What is a little different though, is that more often than not, in politics an endorsement can either be tied to campaign contributors or those who will look to gain something in return. Of course there are paid sponsors for private businesses too, but this is often a little more transparent.
In business, our reputations rely on satisfied clients and ongoing marketing efforts. In politics this is also true – however once someone is elected, the ongoing effort is less critical – or at least until the next election cycle!
Any candidate that is looking to really stand out must also make sure they engage the voters in ways that matter to the individual. This will definitely be through personal appearances and speeches, a strong social media campaign, an online presence that allows you to follow updates (and contribute), paid radio/TV advertising and the debates. The typical campaign strategy will be very sophisticated compared to most small or even large businesses. Individuals will be employed to coordinate all promotional appearances, and for the eventual leaders, a strong network will be built in each state. Just think of what we could accomplish in business if we had millions of dollars to promote our image!
How do you see politics comparing to business in the world of marketing? Are you going to be taking notes?