The recent Presidential election and surprising results have been an eye opener for all of us in the marketing community. It seems hard to fathom that Clinton could outspend Trump by so much in advertising and have such a higher level of local marketing and yet still lose the campaign, yet that is exactly what happened. So what more can individual businesses learn from the campaign communications and how could it be applied to success on every level.
#1 Understand Your Customer
Trump understood that people were angry and wanted change in government. This is almost the same message the Obama used to get elected in his campaigns. And while it can and will be debated what change, if any, takes place, the successful message was similar and worked in both cases. Clinton, on the other hand, represented more of the status quo, and while many people preferred that, apparently just as many wanted to shake up the system with change.
#2 Keep Your Message Simple
Trump was often chastised for having vague plans and lack of detail for his policies while Clinton outlined, sometimes in minutia, her ideas and plans for everyone to see. Yet as the results panned out the detailed explanation did not work any better than the generalization did. This may have as much to do with the customer base as anything else. Demographic analysis identified Trump’s customer as slightly less educated than Clintons’ so the simple message was ideal for him. Also… see point #1.
#3 Grab Publicity
Those who watched the nightly news cannot deny that Trump’s ability to stay in the news with sometimes outlandish proposals and events provided him the kinds of news coverage that few people or businesses have ever seen before. Much of the new as the time appeared to be highly negative, yet getting back to the customer, people didn’t seem to mind and felt that his rebelliousness what exactly what they wanted in a politician that could shake things up. This significant amount of publicity, very often in prime time viewing, provided Trump front page impressions throughout the campaign.
Many people that voted for Trump felt that Clinton was a more typical politician trying to do or say what the people she was with at the time wanted to hear. People felt that Trump, for all his gaffaws, stuck to his message from start to finish and did not appear to waiver despite the heat and criticism that came his way every day.
So how could a small business apply what has been learned from this most recent campaign. Try and do some research to determine what are your customers most important issues of the day, even if they don’t relate to your product or service. This can be done through phone calls , emails, more chats with sales people or even a printed survey. When you learn about your customer you can adjust your messages to him so that they are more widely accepted.
Examine the messages your company sends and if it could be simplified. People have even shorter attention spans than they did 5 years ago. They are used to flipping through web pages, grabbing quick news bites and moving on. A longer drawn out message may never reach your reader. See if you can plan your messaging in waves with the first wave being simple and additional contacts being more detailed as they go.
Harness publicity by examining what your company is doing and presenting it to trade publications, blogs and other outlets. Business owners often feel they need to manufacture grand stories for publicity when actually simple short releases can garner the best results. For example: We added Jack Jones to our sales staff so we can devote more time to each customer and help train them to use our products more efficiently.” Thats a message you can create in a couple paragraphs and shoot out to your email list and other resources in a few hours. Do your publicity on a regular basis and you’ll be amazed at the results.
Finally focus your message on the type of communications your research tells you to do. Talk less your business and your products and more on the customer.
This past election process provided a wide range of lessons that played out for the world to see. Take advantage of the learning and apply it to your marketing efforts.