Whether you’re thrilled or disappointed with the results of November 4th, there are some undeniable lessons every business owner can learn about sales and marketing. In no previous election has the power of branding been more successfully realized. Let’s look at how five tenets of persuasive marketing played out.
1) Keep the message simple.
Just as every product marketplace must contend with messaging clutter, so, too, were the candidates and voters forced to wade through myriad issues and viewpoints. In deference to Senator McCain’s respectable “Country First” slogan, President-elect Obama’s message of “Change” emerged as the decisive winner. (Not surprisingly, so too did the candidate.) In a media environment that prioritizes the soundbite, Obama’s clarion call to the ubiquitous “Change” gave supporters an intuitive centering point. It was understood by and appealed to virtually all demographic profiles. When you can boil down a candidate – or product – to a simple equation like “Obama=Change”, you’ve made a powerful accomplishment.
2) Be persistent.
Obama came out of the gate with his “Change” message and rarely, if ever, deviated from it. When aggressively pursuing an integrated marketing campaign, you’re prone to tire of your message before your prospects do. You need to repeat your marketing mantra until you’re blue in the face (or red, if you’re so inclined.) When your customers begin sounding your brand as a rallying cry (such as Apple loyalists do), you’ve done your job and can look at expanding on it. Until then, stick to your guns.
3) Be relevant.
Other candidates have touted variants of the “Change” message in the past. Not until this year, however, did that message resonate so clearly. Economic crises, international conflicts and a general disenfranchisement with Washington primed the pump. Obama simply needed to continue going to the well. “Change” played on pain points, tugged at heartstrings, and stirred the dissatisfaction that pervaded the consciousness of many voters. In short, it hit home. When your customers see themselves in your brand, you’ve connected with them. And that’s what every effective brand should do: make you a welcome guest when you come knocking.
4) Leverage partners.
There was a lot of talk about “surrogates” in this election. While you might not be able to get hundreds of thousands of volunteers to canvas neighborhoods for you, you can leverage partners and others to faithfully deliver your message. Equipping sales staff, employees, resellers, social networks, media outlets and other constituents with the messaging and tools they need to effectively prosper from your brand makes everyone a winner.
5) Harness the Internet.
The rise to prominence of the Internet as a medium for decision making has been obvious for years. But if there is anyone in America that needed additional proof, this election delivered it via candidate sites, viral videos, media network blogs and forums and fact checking organizations. Prospects go to the Web first and often for information, insight and the opportunity for dialogue. Their ability to effectively and quickly search for what they need can give you the critical leg up on your competition. If you’re not effectively using the Internet to your advantage – even if you’re a small, specialized supplier – you’re missing out on game-changing opportunities.
This election already stands as a history-making event for several reasons. It’s prominence as an exemplary display of deliberate, coordinated marketing will be among them.