Now that the 2012 elections are thankfully behind us, we wanted to take just one quick look back and explore just what the months-long campaigns of both parties have to teach us about marketing and branding. Regardless of the size of your business or the industry that you’re in, anyone can take a page from the playbooks of both candidates’ marketing strategies:
Craft a simple, powerful, compelling message. Many businesses make the mistake of thinking that their advertising and marketing campaigns all carry the same message, and they’re probably right. However, more often than not, it’s usually the wrong message: Buy, buy, buy and oh, preferably from us.
Think about Mitt Romney’s message. Sure, he ultimately wanted you to vote for him, but the message he hammered home over and over in his cross-country campaign travels was this: Strong leadership will fix the deficit and create jobs.
President Obama’s message, on the other hand, echoed the successful brand that propelled him to the office four years ago: Hope and change will move us forward.
Buy me is not a message. Your message must differentiate you from your competitors and rivals. Romney’s message focuses on his experience as a successful businessman, one who is clearly expert at managing and growing money, and his expertise as the head of large, complex organizations.
Obama’s message centers on his sharp intellect, self-discipline, organizational skills, and not the least his perceived connection with the middle class.
Your message must be easy to remember, reflective of your mission as a company and be the foundation of all of your branding and marketing efforts. You want your customers and prospects to immediately associate your company with that message, thus reinforcing your brand and image.
Be consistent with that message. One of the criticisms frequently leveled by Democrats against Mitt Romney during the campaign was what they perceived to be his inconsistency in his platform. New York mayor Michael Bloomberg even lamented about it in his endorsement of Obama by saying that he would have voted for the “1994 or 2003 version of Mitt Romney,” but that the 2012 Romney has swung in entirely different directions from his previous positions on immigration, healthcare and abortion.
Romney’s fundamental message of jobs and the weak economy clearly resonated with a significant enough percentage of populace, but even his own party has struggled with keeping their messaging consistent throughout the long campaign. The schizophrenic tone didn’t help him — his poll ratings fluctuated wildly over the course of the past few months as both pundits and ordinary citizens tried to discern his real positions on critical issues.
President Obama, despite his reputation as “No Drama Obama,” had his own moments where his image strayed from the norm. His first debate performance was widely panned, and even some of his own most ardent supporters were left shaking their heads at his lackluster showing. Obama himself wryly joked about it during an appearance at a charity show with his rival. It was a devastating blow to someone who has prided himself on his unflappability and self-confidence, and for someone in the middle of a critical election campaign.
Whether your message is about “24/7 Customer Service,” “Fast, Free Shipping,” “Biggest Inventory of Books on the Planet,” or even “On Time, Every Time,” stick with it and keep that promise. Your customers will appreciate not only the consistency but reliability of your message.
Image (i.e., your brand) is everything. Remember when then-reigning tennis champ Andre Agassi intoned this in his Canon ads? It’s memorable not only because it’s pithy but also because it’s so true, even more so in business. Romney and Obama both have adhered to a very specific image, one that radiates strength, intelligence, competence, professionalism and focus. This isn’t the 1930s anymore, when few Americans knew that FDR was in a wheelchair. In a round-the-clock, media-saturated, social media-filled environment, not only are messages broadcast, but they’re also discussed and dissected, and reputations can be ruined overnight by a random, thoughtless tweet or video.
Understand that your image is your brand, and vice-versa. Make sure that everyone in your company adheres to that image. If you provide professional home contracting services to consumers, make sure your service techs maintain excellent customer service, from the moment they knock on a customer’s door to the moment they drive away at the end of a visit. Are their uniforms crisp and neat, your company’s logo clearly visible on the front? Are their vehicles meticulously maintained and clean? Do they call the customer if they are going to be late? All of these represent not only your tech’s professionalism but your entire company’s image as well. Make sure it’s tight and puts your company in the best light.
Regardless of your political leanings, you’ve probably gleaned some lessons from this long, bruising, and image-heavy presidential campaign. What are some of the things you’ve taken away from this whole ordeal?
Image courtesy of coward_lion / FreeDigitalPhotos.net