Marketing Lessons Learned from the 2008 Campaigns

By Karen A. Davis

Regardless of whether you voted Democrat or Republican in this week’s election, you’d have to agree that the political campaigns of both major parties could give us semesters worth of information about marketing. Through television ads, e-mail and viral marketing, campaign speeches and debates, the candidates aimed to sell you on their brand and ideas, hoping to seal the deal on November 4th. Here are four marketing lessons of the campaigns:

1. Tell your story. The candidates gave you their personal information, and how they came to run for office. Followers responded to John McCain’s military service, Barack Obama’s family history, Sarah Palin as hockey mom, and Joe Biden riding the train to and from Washington every day. Their resumes and life stories came out early and were repeated often.

In this increasingly connected world, we are learning more and more about each other. Through social networking sites, blogs and websites, you have the opportunity to tell your personal and professional story. Let your current and prospective clients know who you are and why you chose your profession or started your business. Be clear about the services you offer and those you don’t, developing your own professional platform. Just as a candidate would in a campaign ad, let them know what you do best. (See if you can do it in 30 seconds!) But most of all, let clients know how your skills and services will benefit them.

2. Become the solution. Obama offered change from typical Washington politics; McCain claimed to be a maverick, breaking rank with his political party for the greater good. Marketers call this the Unique Selling Proposition: how your client’s life, business, or project will improve if they choose you. Let them know what you offer that your competition doesn’t. Differentiate your business, and when they hire you, stay true to your promise.

3. Become a community organizer. Build a network of friends who believes in you and your business and will work on your behalf. Your community includes employees, colleagues, friends, and clients. Listen to their story, show them that what you have to offer is the solution to their problem (or the problem of someone they know), and they will be happy to spread your good name. As we know, word of mouth is the best form of advertising. The candidates had thousands of volunteers knocking on doors, making phone calls, attending rallies, wearing buttons and t-shirts, and posting signs.

4. Tell your story to the world. In 2008, it’s so much easier. You don’t need to pay for television or radio advertising, unless that’s where your audience is. You can utilize the Internet and wireless devices to spread your story inexpensively and build relationships. Use frequent e-mails to update clients on your company’s employees, services and projects (remember to give them a way to unsubscribe). Use a blog to link to your favorite articles or post your ideas on current industry trends. And by becoming active on social networking sites, your friends and connections can link you with theirs, thereby giving you those hundreds or thousands of volunteers who will spread your name. Just think, Obama even used text messaging to announce his Vice-Presidential candidate in the middle of the night, and it made those who subscribed feel important.

By studying the marketing strategies of an unrelated industry, you may discover new approaches not being used by your competition. Your best marketing ideas may come from the least likely places, even political campaigns.

© Copyright – Karen A. Davis. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.


Networking through the End of the Year

There are still contacts- and lead-generating events happening through the end of the year. Meeting, conferences and conventions through December include:

November.02 - American Concrete Institute's Fall Convention (St. Louis, MO)

November.03 - Big Builder '08 (Washington, DC)

November.04 - DEADLINE FOR ENTRY: Residential Architect Design 09 Awards

November.05 - Worship Facilities Conference & Expo (Houston, TX)

November.05 - Women's Council of Realtors National Conference (Orlando, FL)

November.06 - RealShare Westchester & Fairfield Counties (White Plains, NY)

November.06 - Transport Summit - Congress for the New Urbanism (Charlotte, NC)

November.07 - Hospitality Design Owner's Roundtable (New York, NY)

November.07 - AIAS Northeast Quad Fall Conference (American Institute of Architecture Students) (Toronto, ON)

November.07 - AIAS Midwest Quad Fall Conference (American Institute of Architecture Students) (Kansas City, MO)

November.09 - Business Facilities Live Xchange (Huntington Beach, CA)

November.09 - TFM Forum - Today's Facility Manager (Huntington Beach, CA)

November.12 - Smarter Asset Management (Orlando, FL)

November.12 - ArchLED '08: LED Lighting for the Built Environment (Chicago, IL)

November.12 - Hazardous Waste Combustors Conference & Exhibition (Galveston, TX)

November.13 - RealShare Dallas (Dallas, TX)

November.13 - RealShare Medical Office Buildings (Dallas, TX)

November.14 - CPN's New York Investment Series (New York, NY)

November.17 - CPN's Washington D.C. Property Opportunities (Washington, DC)

November.19 - RealShare Industrial West (Long Beach, CA)

November.19 - 2008 NAREIT Annual Convention - National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts (San Diego, CA)

November.19 - GreenBuild International Conference & Expo (USGBC) (Boston, MA)

December.03 - RealShare Orange County (Irvine, CA)

December.08 - Reinvention 2008: Designing for the Future (Austin, TX)

December.08 - EcoBuild and AEC-ST Fall (Washington, DC)

December.10 - Deadline for Entry - National C.L.E.A.N. Awards

December.10 - Construction SuperConference 08 (San Francisco, CA)

December.29 - American Institute of Architecture Students Forum (Denver, CO)