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5 Marketing Lessons We Can Learn From Politicians


With less than a week to go before Election Day 2014, the partisan politics circus is in full swing.

If you happen to live in a state with hotly-contested races, then it’s likely that no matter how hard you’ve tried, you haven’t been able to avoid being bombarded with non-stop nonsense from various contestants in the high-stakes game of running for political office.

On the positive side, here are 5 Marketing Lessons We Can Learn From Politicians…

  1. If you use television advertising in your business, you may want to ramp it down or even suspend it altogether during the height of any political campaign, because stations routinely raise their rates during these times, to capitalize on the desperate spending of billions of dollars by various politicians and their supporters.
  2. People are more motivated to take action (in this case, to vote) by fear of loss than by a possibility of gain. You don’t need me to point out all the overwhelming negativity in political advertising, as compared to the relatively small amount of positivity.
  3. Political campaigns are all about one thing and one thing only: results. There’s no room in a political campaign for any nonsense like “awareness” or “getting your name out there.” Everything is geared to one purpose, and one purpose only: getting prospects to take the desired ACTION (vote). Business owners must think the same way, and focus on directing prospects to take a specific action whenever they do any marketing or advertising.
  4. Because they are results-oriented, candidates always take a multi-media approach to marketing, using everything from radio and television to direct mail, email, social media, telemarketing and of course, extensive grassroots efforts. Small business owners often do the opposite – making the mistake of focusing on the cost of marketing instead of the results, and therefore often falling far short of their goals.
  5. Politicians are excellent communicators. Many have Ivy League degrees, yet skillfully avoid being labeled “elitist” by speaking at a 6th- or 7th-grade reading level, which top copywriters know is the ideal reading level to shoot for to achieve maximum effectiveness in communication.

    Our last three U.S. Presidents are all masters of this skill. Who can forget Phi Beta Kappa/Rhodes Scholar/Yale Law School graduate Bill Clinton speaking in a southern drawl while professing a love of McDonald’s french fries, donuts and assorted other junk food, or George W. Bush being generally perceived as not bright despite earning a Yale degree and being the only President to earn an MBA (from Harvard Business School), or our current President Barack Obama routinely breaking into slang and “the language of the common man” despite his Columbia University and Harvard Law School degrees?

    Of course these three presidents – and many, many other politicians – are all quite capable of speaking with big words and sounding like college professors, but they know better and almost naturally communicate at the coveted 6th- or 7th-grade reading level for maximum effectiveness.

    Small business owners, entrepreneurs and sales professionals, of course, should aim to do the same.

We can all learn a lot more about marketing from politicians, of course, in addition to being thoroughly entertained by their no-holds-barred fights to the finish.

I, for one, however, will be extremely happy when next Tuesday rolls around and the campaign madness comes to an end.

At least for a week or so, when the campaigning is bound to start right back up again as we head towards 2016…

2 Responses to 5 Marketing Lessons We Can Learn From Politicians

  1. Bryan Binkholder Reply

    October 30, 2014 at 10:25 pm

    Great points Steve and the one about speaking and writing at the 6th grade level is so very true (you and i recently debated this and sadly you won). You might add that ‘message to market.’ They know who they are marketing to and especially in the primaries do everything to motivate their base or ‘core customers’.

    • Steve Sipress Reply

      October 31, 2014 at 11:19 am

      Great point, Bryan. I’m wondering how I missed that one, since it’s the first “W” in my The WOW! Strategy™.

      Politicians are fantastic at knowing everything they can about their “WHO” – their target audience – and putting together messaging precisely for them.

      The naysayers like to call it “pandering,” but in the super-high-stakes, results-oriented game of electoral politics, it’s very smart marketing to craft different messages to different audiences.

      If only more small business owners did the same, maybe our country could pull out of this Recession sometime soon…

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