With less than six weeks before the general election, Ohio is one of a handful of states receiving an awful lot of attention from the two main presidential candidates. Even though we in Ohio are already tired of political spots from both sides, the frequency of campaign ads is guaranteed to intensify as we get closer to November 6th. As a swing-state, Ohioans are the primary target market for both campaigns.
What can marketers learn from all these political ads that we are seeing and hearing? Here are just a few observations on how businesses can campaign for customers the way politicians campaign for votes:
- Determine your target market. Both candidates are spending most of their money in swing-states like Ohio, Florida, Virginia, and Colorado. Re-evaluate where your marketing dollars are being spent to ensure that you are hitting the people who matter most.
- Create a narrative. Put together a list of “talking points” and make sure that your message is consistent. Politicians get into trouble when they get “off message.”
- Many political ads use everyday Americans telling us why we should vote for – or against – a candidate. Use customer testimonials to convince your target audience that your business is the right choice for them.
- Put your marketing everywhere you possibly can. Sure, you probably don’t have hundreds of millions in campaign funds to spend on every available media option, but a multi-pronged, integrated approach is important for maximizing reach and frequency.
- Embrace new media. Politicians have figured out how to move outside the filter of traditional media through alternative channels: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, mobile text messaging, and iPhone apps.
- Exploit the competitors’ weaknesses. There is a reason political candidates engage in “negative” campaigning. It works. There is nothing wrong with pointing out how you’re better than the other guy.
- Let people sample your product/service. Why do candidates spend hours on bus tours from Vandalia to Zanesville? So people can get a first-hand experience with the candidate. Sometimes all it takes is a handshake.
Something else to take note of: take a look at whom the presidential candidates are targeting with their marketing here in Ohio. It is not the 90% who have already made up their minds; it is the 10% who are still on the fence. While branding is important to keep your business top-of-mind with your current customers, make sure that your marketing is also targeted to win over those customers who have no brand loyalty.
If you are tired of all the political ads already (and who isn’t), consider doing what I’m going to do: a six-week vacation to one of the solid red or blue states seen on the map, below! I’m Mark Bianchi, and I approve this message.