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10 Sales and Marketing Lessons from the 2012 Presidential Campaign

Posted Tuesday, November 13, 2012, at 1:42 PM

Despite your political affiliations or how your candidate fared in this year's presidential election, it's tough not to appreciate the full-court-press the candidates give in selling and marketing their own personal brands. In fact, there are sales and marketing takeaways that we can glean from one of the most expensive elections (AKA "ad campaigns") in our nation's history -- lessons we can leverage in promoting our own local brands.

10.) Understand Emotional Buying: Consumers make emotional buying decisions first, only later seeking rational support to justify the decision they've really already made. That's why people decide whom to vote for based more on how they feel about the candidates than any rationale argument one could make.

9.) Embrace Technology: Effective use of new technology wins elections: Eisenhower won in 1952 thanks to radio. JFK's appearance on TV in the 1960 debates against a feverish-looking Nixon helped him secure the win. The "reach" (number of impressions) that Obama generated on YouTube during the 2008 election would have cost the campaign over 50 million dollars in equivalent TV airtime. Brands and campaigns that fail to embrace technology do so at their own peril.

8.) Keep Messaging Simple: Keep your message simple, easy to understand and share with others. Then stick with it. Historically, campaigns that teeter back and forth between messages fall short of the goal line.

7.) Maintain Positive Tone: Presidential campaigns that focus on their own value proposition versus tearing down their competitors are more often to find their way to a win.

6.) Define WIIFM: In the end, elections are won or lost by a candidate's ability to talk to people about what affects them directly -- the "what's in it for me" (WIIFM) factor. The rest of the rhetoric is just noise.

5.) Know Thy Target: Knowing your audience and targeting your message accordingly is essential. Texas and New York aren't emphasized by the campaigns for a reason -- they don't have as significant an impact on the outcome as states like Ohio and Virginia. Targeting doesn't mean that any group of prospective voters (or buyers) is less important than another -- it's just smart marketing.

4.) Act vs. React: Don't let your competition control your message. Stay on point and drive home your key messages with consistency and frequency versus changing course with every competitor whim.

3.) Promote Brand First: Facts alone simply don't distinguish a candidate, or a brand, from another. Voters, like consumers, make decisions on a more visceral level. Once they believe in your brand, then the facts become a more important part of the conversation.

2.) Leverage Data: Every year, political campaigns become increasingly data-driven with those most quickly accessing reliable data -- and knowing how to use it -- often winning elections. Data allows you to know how to properly frame your content so that it resonates with your audience. In other words, metrics allow you to adjust your marketing strategy real-time based on your performance.

1.) Express Personality: Candidates with personality, who engage with voters, win hearts. Have a sense of humor and let down your guard -- when promoting any brand, whether it be political or otherwise.

Whether you're a political junkie or glad all the rhetoric is coming to an end, don't miss the opportunity to learn a lesson -- or ten -- from one of the most expensive advertising and marketing campaigns of our time. Leverage the candidates' successes and failures for a big impact on your bottom line.

Lori Turner-Wilson is an award-winning columnist and CEO/Founder of RedRover Sales & Marketing in Memphis, TN, www.redrovercompany.com. You can follow RedRover on Twitter (@redrovercompany and @loriturner) and Facebook (facebook.com/redrovercompany).

Showing comments in chronological order
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Romney should of gagged John McCain, McCain hurt Romney bad with all his war talk.

-- Posted by bailei on Tue, Nov 13, 2012, at 8:06 PM

Great article. You ideas embracing technology were spot on. Candidates were able to reach more voters through online marketing. I have been reading a fantastic book called, " Leverage Social Networks to Drive Business Results" by author Lisa Anderson. Why should executives focus on social networks? If they don't, they will be left in the dust. And why is this especially critical in the new normal business environment? Only the best will thrive! You'll learn why leveraging social networks is vital to success, and you'll take away best practices, results from an executive survey and gain insights into case study examples. An executive wants to learn how to improve operational performance utilizing social networks. http://www.lma-consultinggroup.com/

-- Posted by Robyn on Sun, Nov 25, 2012, at 2:08 AM

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Lori spent over 15 years leading corporate marketing and communications divisions in the financial services, hospitality and franchise restaurant sectors. As Director of Target Marketing for the Hampton Hotels brand of Hilton Hotels Corporation, Lori managed promotional, direct and Web marketing, as well as custom publishing, for the brand's franchise system. In her role as Vice President of Employee Communications and Development for First Horizon National Corporation, she managed the corporation's internal culture initiatives, communications, and employee recognition programs. Other positions held include Sr. Communications Director/Corporate Editor for TCBY Enterprises, Inc., and Vice President of Marketing for First National Banking Company. Lori is a founding sponsor and member of the Board of Directors for LaunchMemphis -- an organization committed to developing an entrepreneurial community in Memphis comprised of investors, entrepreneurs and local organizations. In addition, Lori is on the Board of Directors of the Sales and Marketing Society of the Mid-South and on the Advisory Board for the Humane Society of Memphis and Shelby County. She is a sought-after speaker in the Memphis area, delivering sales and marketing keynote addresses and workshops to organizations like: the Memphis Chapter of the American Advertising Federation, the Sales & Marketing Society of the Mid-South, LaunchMemphis, EmergeMemphis, the Memphis Regional Chamber, the National Association of Women Business Owners, and the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International. Lori holds a B.S. in Marketing from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, in addition to having completed the University of Colorado's School of Bank Marketing and Management. She is the recipient of numerous industry awards including local and district Addy's, Communicator awards, and a Telly. She received recognition as one of the Memphis Business Journal's "Top 40 Under 40" recipients in 2009. Lori also served as a contributing ghost writer for the renowned "Complete Idiot's Guide to Guerilla Marketing." Beyond her passions for marketing and dogs of all shapes and sizes, Lori is an avid traveler, runner and foodie.