For the past 20 years, I’ve worked with political candidates, political consultants and other media buying agencies on strategically placing media campaigns for elections. Our track record for getting candidates elected exceeds 90%. What does this mean to YOUR business? Below are a few things you and your team can learn from political campaigns.

politicsI’d like to think there could be some absurd situation in which it’s possible that you don’t know it’s a big election year here in the US. But since even the fire breathing dragons, mer-people, and cave dwellers seem to have a political affiliation (if not an agenda), it seems pretty likely that you’ve noticed.

There are some important content marketing lessons to learn from political campaigns. The candidates are, after all, marketing themselves. So how do those strategies translate?

#1: Don’t flip-flop. Take a firm stance.

This is an example of what not to do. There are countless politicians who have been accused of flip-flopping, or changing positions for personal gain. You would be wise to avoid such tactics in your content marketing efforts.

Controversy can be an excellent addition to your content strategy. Unfortunately, it’s not always planned to be that way. It’s a traffic booster because it gets people talking, but it can also bring the pressure to “take it back” or tone it down from those who disagree with your position.

Understand that you can’t play to both sides and you’ll never please everyone. If there comes a time when your company needs to publicly take a position, be firm in it. Make that position clear in everything from your Facebook and Twitter updates to your blog posts.

While not everyone will agree with you, people are a lot more receptive to transparency than they are to secrecy and deception. Consider this when developing your content strategy, and use your content as a vehicle to achieve said transparency.

Bonus: As an added piece of related advice, when your position differs from your competitors’, avoid the smear campaigns. Sure, it might be amusing for people to watch as you exchange insults (masked or otherwise) via blog posts and social media content, but it’s not the way to be taken seriously as a business. Avoid going for the eyes and be respectful and professional, instead.

#2: Pick and choose your negative campaigns.

Negative marketing campaigns are everywhere these days, and political campaigns are a perfect example of this.

I’m sure you know exactly what I mean: Candidate A airs a commercial that tells you how the world will implode of Candidate B is elected, then backs it up with reasons. Candidate B publishes a post to the campaign blog talking about how Candidate A will destroy life as you know it and follows up with reasons to support such a claim.

If there were a little black dress of political campaigns, fear tactics would be it.
While fear and negative marketing certainly have a place in your content strategy, avoid relying too heavily upon them. We as a society have become so accustomed to always hearing the negative and focusing on the bad that many of us have little, if any, reaction.
Focusing on the positive, on the other hand, is always a welcome strategy. We like content that makes us feel good and gives us hope – hope about your product or business included.

#3: Use multiple channels to promote your message.

Be careful when reading this one. Using multiple channels does not contradict our Prioritize and Dominate approach to marketing. I strongly suggest that you rely on the professionals when determining your media mix. As the 2009 Meryl Streep, Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin movie titles states….IT’S COMPLICATED. However, the use of multiple channels is one thing that political campaigns have gotten very right! Sure, you see campaign-related content in more traditional forms such as the flyer hanging on your door, the letter in your mailbox, the commercial on your television, and even the message on your answering machine.

Any serious candidate, however, knows it’s time to get social.

Today we see candidates posting content on Facebook and interacting with supporters through Twitter. Their camps are blogging from the campaign trail. Content marketing has become very much a part of every political race. If no one is seeing your content, you might become frustrated with your efforts. But you needn’t be. A politician’s goal is to win, and to do that, he or she needs to get every campaign message in front of the constituents. Making the messages available on multiple channels makes that possible.
So use the major channels such as Facebook, Twitter, and a blog to promote your content, but don’t forget about other sites (and there are lots of them). Slideshare, YouTube, PRNewswire, and Google+ (hangouts or not), are all good ways to use other channels to get your message out.

#4: Know how to reach your target market.

Along those same lines, it’s important to know where your target market is going to be. Spreading your message across various channels needs to be part of your content strategy. It can’t just be a series of random actions.

Through your research, you should know where your target market is spending time.
In addition to social media and targeted digital marketing, it is now important, for example, to look at OTT TV Everywhere. This is a platform that offers various devices like Netflix, ROKU, Apple TV, PlayStation, Chromecast, etc.

Keeping up with audience measurement (Ratings), various platforms, popular social media outlets, content engagement, TV Everywhere and all media platforms is a full-time job. It’s not something that one person can do. If you are relying on one or two people within your marketing department to handle this, regardless of how talented or intelligent they are, you will soon be “losing” market share to your competitors.

Our most successful clients allow us to work directly with their marketing team to partner on strategy, goals, etc. We handle the research, strategy, placement, maintenance and reconciliation of advertising campaigns while they work on the important daily tasks of internal marketing and developing external goals and objectives.

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