Thursday, January 12, 2012

3 Marketing Tips We Can Learn from Successful Election Campaigns

I'm sure that this will not be the last time I refer to the election--not because I am very interested in politics, but if you are a business owner, there is something to learn.

Have you ever heard these words before?
Yeah, there might be some issues that they raise that could affect you, but that is not what I mean.

The REAL education comes from watching the election campaign strategies.  There are teams of high-powered intelligent people devising entire campaigns designed to market their candidate to the public.

If we think that there is a lot of thought put into 15 second to 1 minute Super Bowl ads, you're probably right.

Do you think that there might be even MORE thought put into an election campaign?

This Time Magazine article by Mark Halperin, "Romney's Killer Instinct: How Mitt's Winning and Why Obama Should Take Note," does a good job of outlining what seems to be a strong election campaign strategy.

Within the article, the three (3) main campaign strategy points are
  1. Project the image that you want to define you.
  2. Deflect efforts by your rivals do define you on THEIR terms.
  3. Define your rivals on YOUR terms.
1. Project the image that you want to define you.

This is branding in the ultimate form.  Make sure that you KNOW what you want to defines you or your business.  Then you need to devise a plan to project that image into other people's minds.

Watch the candidates, and start taking note of how you perceive them.  Ask yourself, how did you come to that conclusion.  More importantly, try to remember what they did (or did not do) to make you think as you do.

What parts of these candidate's plans can you put to work for yourself?

2. Deflect efforts by your rivals do define you on THEIR terms.

Almost all of the time, if you are a threat to your competition, your competition will find ways to deal with you.

Burger King compares itself to McDonald's all of the time.  It is often trying to show how much bigger their food is or how much better it tastes than McDonald's.

McDonald's deflects these efforts by not even acknowledging Burger King.  You NEVER hear "Burger King" mentioned in any of their commercials.

They define themselves as a place for families to gather and young people to meet.  They do not make any attempt to say that they offer MORE food for your money.  They do not make any attempt to send the message that their food TASTES any better than anywhere else.

They just simply market themselves to you by mentioning what THEY offer, which is a place that you can take your family or meet your friends.  Lately, they have been placing more emphasis on their coffee, too, but even that is often a centerpiece for meeting people.

3.  Define your rivals on YOUR terms.

This can be done in a large variety of ways.

Within election campaigns and many business marketing campaigns, this is done by making attempts to slaughter the reputation of the competition.  This can be done by saying or writing disparaging things.  It can be accomplished by making a picture or video and placing them or what they represent in an unfavorable light.

Those techniques are used very often, but they were work very well--very often.

However, that is not the only way to define your rivals on your own terms.

Personally, I like to take one of two approaches:
  • Acknowledge and Minimize Their Accomplishments/Benefits
  • Combine Efforts with Them
Acknowledge and Minimize Their Accomplishments/Benefits

I like to give people credit for things they have done well.  We all have done good things, and we all would like to be appreciated for doing some of those things, anyway.  (Some people want it for everything they do, and that is their prerogative and not the point of this piece.)

However, some accomplishments and benefits mean more to your clients than others.

For instance, let's say that you own a fine dining restaurant, and you know that you serve the best steaks in town.

Another restaurant in town might serve steaks, and they serve them at a lower cost than you.

In this case, I will likely say, "That restaurant serves really good food, and it is less expensive to eat there."

Then I would proceed to remind people, "You probably will enjoy your dining experience there.  Nothing compares to our steaks that we serve, and we know that nothing compares to the steaks that we serve.  If you are looking for the best steak in town, we are the only place in town."

In this case, I commended my competitor for being inexpensive.  However, if someone wants a great tasting steak, which is more important to this customer, price or taste?

Which did I emphasize?  The TASTE of steak from my place.

Did I say anything bad about my competitor?  No, I just played down the benefit that it offers--price.

Imagine if more election campaigns were run this way?

Combine Efforts with Them

Sometimes, you might be better at some thing, but a formidable competitor is good at something else.

President Barack Obama did this perfectly.

In the 2008 presidential election campaign, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton should have been able to walk into the presidency by a landslide.

Many people were tired of Republican president George W. Bush, and they were not willing to take a chance on another Republican party candidate, and Hillary Clinton is the wife of former president Bill Clinton, who was popular and a Democrat--the right party to be during this specific presidential campaign.

Despite these advantages, Barack Obama beat out Hillary Clinton and Barack eventually became president.

President Obama KNEW that Hillary would be a legitimate threat during the next election.

What did he do?

He combined forces with her.  Barack Obama appointed Hillary Clinton to be the US Secretary of State.  He combined what they had to offer yet neutralized a major future threat.

This can be done in business, and both companies can combine marketing budgets and efforts toward building each other, rather than wasting time, energy, and money tearing down the other.

Moral: Make sure to define your brand--before someone else decides to do it.

Like this post?  Other posts you might like are

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