Good Marketing Will Save Your Political Campaign
When someone asks why you are running for a political position, if the first words out of your mouth are "Because I...," you're doing it wrong.
2020 is a political year for Americans, where we have the privilege to vote for President of the United States. Eleven states will hold elections for Governor this year, also. On the local level, City Council and Mayoral seats are up for grabs. With all of these political ads in the news feed, how are you standing out from the rest and not getting lost in the sea of status updates?
What is your pitch? Your speech? Your tagline? Your mission? Do you have any of these, if not all? All of these items are mere communication pieces that tell voters why they should bubble in your name on the ballot. Substitute the word "campaigning" or as we say in Alabama, "politic-in'," for marketing because that's what you're doing. You are marketing yourself to your voters by communicating a clear message that speaks to their needs.
If you have the chance to be in front of any number of people and tell them why they should have your vote, you are eating from a never-ending buffet of opportunity. At our very nature, humans want to know how something or someone is going to benefit us. What are you going to do for me? Why do you care about me? Tell me why I'm special. In the next few points, I will explain how good marketing can save your political campaign from being lost, or worse, irritating to your voters.
#1: It's not about you.
Yes, I know. Your face is on the TV, your name is on the signs going down the highway, you're fronting the bill for the flyers. But your campaign is not about you. It is about the people you wish to represent. In the purest form, we want to disclose things such as our education, background, career, achievements, and community service. While these things are not irrelevant, let's tuck them in our back pocket to pull out when someone asks about your qualifications. If your political interviews start with "You should vote for me because I..." you must change your pitch in order to grease the ears of your potential voters.
#2 What's the problem?
What problem(s) do your voters have, and how do you solve those problems? First, define what are actual problems from the mouth of your people. Don't always assume that what you see as a citizen (before your political career) reflect the opinions of those around you. Their problems could be lack of new businesses, security, or not enough jobs. How will you solve that problem? Any product you've ever bought was purchased only because it solved a problem you had. Need light? Light bulbs. Chapped lips? Chap-stick. You, as a political candidate, need to position yourself as their solution...not their hero. Your citizens are the heroes. They are the ones who win.
#3 Words are tools.
Create a consistent, clear, non-fluffy statement that you can memorize and repeat it over and over. Put it on your signs. Say it first during your commercials and interviews. Condense it to a business card. A clear pitch makes listeners lean in instead of ignore it. Make sure your message is everyday language and not fluffy- believe it or not, replacing every adjective with a bigger word from Thesaurus.com only confuses listeners. You, as the solution, need to pitch your campaign as a tangible result- something people can see and feel.
If #1 makes you feel threatened, may I refer you to the 2016 US Presidential Election: Hillary Clinton versus Donald Trump. This is not the place for who was the better candidate or which party I identify with. Simply think about each candidate's campaign slogan:
The 2016 US Presidential Election was a historical event for many reasons, one being the apparent upset and "shock" of Donald Trump winning the vote. Did good marketing help Trump win? My opinion would be: absolutely.
Clinton had precise plans of action that were backed up by her impressive career. Most would say she was well-polished in her speeches and kept calm when she was targeted during debates. Contrary to Trump, who focused more on hyping up the middle-class average American and was known for his debate and Twitter performances. The country asked, "How did he win?" His marketing was spot-on to what his hopeful voters wanted to hear. He spoke about how collectively, we would work together to "Make America Great Again." Did Clinton's slogan, "I'm with Her" speak too much to her being the hero?
Remember that a politician's role is most adored when it comes from the title of servant. Be a servant. Be a helper. Be one who sees and hears. Be a hand. Be the one who can support the gaudy, plastic check, but doesn't have to show his face in the photo for recognition. You won't be the hero. You won't be the king of the world. You won't solve the world's problems. But, you can win a political campaign with the right message.