With a tip of the hat to Texas, Mitt Romney has claimed the number of delegates needed to win his nomination. Now the presidential candidates turn their attention towards each other, ending the opening act and moving to the main event. For some, politics may look like a messy knock-down, drag-out fight. But for the savvy professional, much can be learned about strategic marketing from politics and the entire election process.
1. Identifying Audiences and Tailoring the Message
There is a reason it seems like politicians make promises to everyone. To a group of small business owners, a candidate may pledge support and promote economic growth. To a group of soldiers later that same day, the candidate might pledge increased resources and increased benefits. It’s a matter of identifying a demographic, and tailoring the message to that group.
However, it is not enough to court groups like business owners, students, or women. For instance, a network of business owners will have different, specialized interests if they are corporate business owners, small business owners, or minority business owners. Women may have different interests if they are mothers of children, young professionals facing high student loan debt and workplace discrimination, or all of the above. The more specifically an audience can be identified, the more specifically a message can be tailored, and the more effective it will be – whether in politics or marketing.
2. Review, Reassess and Repeat
Political polling is more than a “how are we doing?” check-in, serving the same purpose as a mid game sports score. Rather, polling is a way to constantly monitor results of campaign strategies, and adapt them as needed. Even more than that, political polling is extensive, breaking down week-by-week results down to the very specific demographics outlined above. Strategies are constantly designed around which groups a candidate wants to (and is realistically able to) win over. From there, campaigning is a constant process of experimenting, attempting tried-and-true methods, and monitoring all results.
When Mitt Romney was polled by 18 points lower than Barack Obama among women, the campaign began utilizing wife Ann Romney to court female voters. Current polls still show the president in the lead among female voters, though the gap has narrowed considerably. Campaign managers on both sides have undoubtedly noted this, and are adjusting the best they know how. A good marketer knows how well their company or client is doing compared to major competitors, and consistently relies on market research to assess and adjust marketing strategies.
3. Image and Personal Branding
In almost all cases, what is ultimately being marketed is an image. In many industries, such as is real estate, the image being marketed is one primary person. A notorious point of view (that many have found success in) is that clients “buy” the individual agent – based on likeability, competency, ease in working with, and general knowledge.
Politics is a matter of selling an individual to the public. Teams of advisors, campaign managers, strategists, committees, writers and assistants come together to make one person look appealing to voters – in beliefs and values, in likeability, in ability, as a whole package. Obama’s 2008 campaign branding, with the rising sun imagery and use of “hope” tagline, was an effective example of personal branding and creative marketing.
In the end, there is more to the political election than just marketing strategy. However, it is one example of how marketing principles help steer and shape everyday culture.
Julie is a marketing, digital media, public relations and social networking specialist for corporate brokerages, multi-million dollar real estate teams, and as a trainer for regional brokerage offices. A Master’s student in Business Administration, she currently works as an independent consultant and maintains her own practice, ADMIRE: Advertising & Marketing in Real Estate, http://www.admirerealestate.com.