Bernie, Ted, Hilary or The Donald - From the Marketing Playbook


What is your pleasure in the presidential race? Opinions are all over the chart:
Qualified, Not Qualified, Truthful, Untrustworthy, Liberal, Conservative, and a new dimension this year, Socialist. Make a pick, change your mind, make another pick, you have until November.

You know what this sounds like to me? The myriad of choices we face everyday in the products and services that are marketed to us and we eventually purchase. The call to action is VOTE and in this case the sale ends in November.

Campaign managers and marketers have basically the same responsibilities. Cut through the noise; be consistent within the brand and the message so your candidate (product or service) is heard above the others.

Watch how the messages change with the audience. In the Midwest, candidates talk about motherhood and apple pie, national pride, jobs and freedom. And as they move across the country from primary to primary, caucus state to caucus state, the message changes. However, the core message of the each candidate remains pretty solid, as does their personal style, with only small nuances in delivery. Of course, for the most part they are used to being in front of different audiences, so availing themselves of small differences within their overarching positions is purely practiced rhetorical skill.

Take just a half step back and run the candidates across the real world marketing landscape. It is much the same. People charged with selling image, product or service must understand the audience and change the message within the demographic. The basis of messaging is not one size fits all, nor is it universal. For example, take the line from one of the candidates in this year's race, who decried the more liberal social and fiscal leanings of people with "New York Values." Of course, he did not say that in New York. He said it in the Midwest, where such values run contrary to local sentiments. Whether you agree with it or not New York does have a particularly distinct tone, as does California, as does the Pacific Northwest and as does the deep South. When the very same candidate got to New York, he rephrased the meaning of his "New York Values" comments to embrace pride, freedom, diversity and economic prowess. We'll see if it works. The point is that messaging is important at every turn.

Politicians are greatly helped in their efforts by using as many well-coordinated social media platforms as they can. Twitter posts are now referenced on news broadcasts. Cable outlets run 24/7 coverage of the campaigns, interviewing surrogates and talking heads trotted out to repeat the messaging. Newsprint is full of the latest about of the candidates - some good, some bad, depending on which side of the spectrum the publication stands. Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, SnapChat and every other platform has been added to the mix. Isn't that exactly what marketers and public relations practitioners do everyday? Multi-Channel marketing is being where your audience is all the time and engaging in the conversation.

The point I am trying to make to my marketing colleagues is to pay attention to these very well funded, very smart and talented folks, who are charged with bringing their candidates to the audience. They are relentless, they are creative and--most importantly--they are messaging masters.

Imagine that you were on a list for a major proposal that would make your product or service a household name around the world. You have three or four competitors seeking the very same opportunity. You are tasked with the goal of being the one chosen for that opportunity. How is that different than the race for President of the U.S.?

Good luck in November.

The author is a graduate of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program.

For more of his articles visit Lorraine Gregory Communications