If you’re a marketer with a interest in politics, like myself, you probably pay a lot of attention to the political campaigns leading up to elections. You read a lot of news stories about how the different campaigns are run, statistical models, and take note of ads.
There are a lot of things you can learn from political campaigns. Political campaigns use the same tools that marketers use and they often rely on the same tactics. Most of the time an election comes down to who has targeted their audience best.
Policy preferences aside, let’s look at a few lessons you can learn from political campaigns.
Don’t worry, we’ll be unbiased.
1. Know Your Base
Here is a more general lesson straight from the Republican Party: know your base. Republicans are very adept at knowing exactly what to say to excite their base. It’s one reason why they’ve had such strong showings at the state and local elections across the country.
This is important for every company, though maybe political rhetoric isn’t the best model for your business. But all marketers do need to know the issues your audience faces and how to address these specific pain points. Once you understand your audience’s pain points, you can use content to position yourself as a solution to their problems.
But always remember to be as relevant as possible when attaching your product to a promise.
2. Use Great Subject Lines
The Democratic Party garnered a lot of praise for their email marketing leading up to both the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections. Not only did they capitalize on the “hope and change” rhetoric of both elections, but they also used some amazing headlines that worked.
For any company using email marketing (probably all of you), you need to take this lesson to heart. Simple subject lines are some of the most effective, often leading to higher open rates. If you’re complimenting with good, relevant content, you may even see a boost in your click-through-rates.
Subject lines can even be used to leverage current events relevant to your audience.
3. Don’t Spam Your Audience
If you have watched The Daily Show with John Stewart, you may have heard John Stewart talking about the Democratic Party’s terrible email marketing. And he’s right. The Democrats have become really bad at email marketing as of late.
Not because the emails themselves are bad, but because they spam their lists.
This is one of the worst things the democrats do. On average, during an election cycle, people receive at least 3 to 5 emails a day from the Democrats or affiliated groups they share their lists with. In a non election month, they even send 4 to 8 emails a week. That’s way too many.
If there is one thing you shouldn’t do, it’s spam. Your audience doesn’t want to be incessantly annoyed by emails. If you really want to be honest, you don’t have anything to say that is important enough to warrant multiple emails a day for weeks on end.
If you spam, you will lose your audience.
4. Capitalize on Events
Politicians have been using events since the dawn of the Republic. On both sides of the aisle, there are tons of events. These range from something as simple as a candidate visiting a restaurant or bowling alley, to complex events such as fundraising dinners and campaign rallies.
Political parties have also mastered the art of capitalizing on events to raise support and donations.
Over the past few hundred years, politicians have gotten really good at event marketing. And you need to be too. In both the construction and trucking industries there are tons of high quality events which allow you to get in front of your best prospects. They range from informal, intimate events like the CCJ Symposia to big events like World of Concrete, CONEXPO, and the Great American Trucking Show.
At these events you have a great opportunity to directly talk to your audience. Your entire Sales Lifecycle can be played out in real-time. Most events also provide additional sponsorship opportunities like banners and meeting rooms for increased exposure.
5. Target Your Audience
As you all hopefully know, the Republicans had a pretty good election cycle and won back the Senate. Most Republicans and news outlets will attribute this to a populist reaction to President Obama’s policies, and they’re not exactly wrong. But that isn’t the entire story.
Republicans were able to very successfully microtarget certain aspects of their campaign messaging to very specific voter demographics and single issue voters.
Being able to microtarget very specific voter audiences allowed Republicans to focus and prioritize specific audiences and issues in key swing elections. For instance, in a lot of places, the Republican Party did really well with women. They were also able to take back seats in states which had turned blue in the last couple of elections, i.e. Colorado and North Carolina.
Being able to target your audience is a big deal. With digital advertising channels, i.e. SEM, banner display, and social media, you can consistently reach the very specific audiences who are most likely to purchase your products.
You can even create different copy and creative to better match with your ad targeting and improve performance.
Admittedly politics are incredibly divisive, and I am usually not allowed to talk about the subject, much less write about it. But the political parties also present lessons from which you can improve your marketing.