By Ata Khan
Election season is in full swing and with that comes a barrage of marketing methods that inundate the average American. While the top runners in the race have larger budgets, their marketing strategies actually are something that small businesses can learn from.
If candidates can use these techniques to win entire presidential elections, just imagine what they can do for your business. With that thought in mind, here are five ways small businesses can use the tactics of effective election campaigns to their advantage:
1. Website design
Typically, the first step to launching a successful business is a well-designed website. Much of the same is true for presidential candidates. They use their websites to get their message out to the masses (both national and local), give the American voter a way to communicate with them, and a platform to accept campaign donations.
These days there are thousands of user-friendly website development platforms and templates available (with many that cater specifically to small businesses and startups). There really is no reason that any business, even with a nominal marketing budget, can’t create a website that is optimized to sell their products or services.
Take this opportunity to set your brand apart from the competition and design a site that meets your business goals. Be sure to have a clean and recognizable logo, a consistent and defined color palette, concise messaging about your services/products, mobile-friendly design, search engine optimized design, and a clear call-to-action and conversion funnel.
Every single candidate gets started by knocking on doors and shaking every hand in order to introduce themselves to the community. Scaled up, knocking on doors evolves into town halls and eventually national debates, caucuses, news spots, opinion pieces in national publications, and more. Face-to-face interaction builds credibility for a presidential candidate and the same is true for small businesses.
Small businesses should absolutely attend trade shows, local events, and anything that puts a face to the company name. Typically, these events offer many opportunities to network and generate leads. They provide paid sponsorship opportunities, booths, speaker spots, and even attendee lists (which you can then market to). Not only will these efforts help you generate leads directly, but it will also help generate brand awareness and funnel customers to your website or brick and mortar store.
3. Email marketing
Presidential candidates rely on free merchandise, meet and greets, and more to attract new voters and potential donors. But they know that this isn’t enough, so they send out mass emails to their lists. These emails help candidates stay in front of their voter base, present their position on current events, and provide a secondary pathway for voter communication/feedback. It is an excellent tool for presidential candidates, and it is an excellent tool for small businesses as well.
Email marketing campaigns that run on platforms like Mailchimp cost very little to run if you already have a list of contacts. Everyone likes a good deal, and if your email marketing campaign can entice users to keep coming back to your products or services, you should make a concerted effort to nurture those relationships. This doesn’t mean that you must give out your products for free, but rather be creative with what you are offering and how you are offering it.
Can you offer free consultations? Can you release an e-book? Can you do a giveaway? Can you create a newsletter that is valuable to your customers? The main takeaway is to be true to your brand so that customers will trust you with their money.
Presidential candidates understand that it’s essential for them to reach out to their voter base in new ways. They send out surveys via email and social media to understand what matters to their potential voters, how they can better serve their needs, and how they can present themselves in a better light.
Businesses can benefit immensely by mimicking this strategy. By hearing the thoughts of their target demographic directly through surveys, brands will understand their customers’ needs better, make product/service improvements, develop better strategies to upsell and market in general, and be more relevant by touching pain points.
Platforms like Survey Monkey are very cost-effective and allow for businesses to send out surveys to their contact databases. These surveys can range from simple to complex, and display results in nicely aggregated reports (complete with breakdowns). Social websites like Facebook have native capability to send out surveys to their users via their ad platform; all you have to do is set up the campaign.
5. Analytics and paid advertising
Within every candidate’s reach is a treasure trove of data pulled from the most sophisticated analytics tools (e.g., Quantcast Measure, Google Analytics, etc.). They use this data to understand who the American voter is, what their interests are, and which platforms they will be most receptive on. Once they have compiled the details, they then run low-cost impression-based ads on these platforms, targeting voters who are on the fence or who may be inclined to be promoters. These ads are run on a variety of platforms (including Google Ads, Facebook, Twitter, and more). The ad platforms have very powerful targeting capabilities and give candidates the ability to target the right voters with the right message.
Once you have the tracking systems up you can track all the same metrics that the candidates do. Start pulling insights by using that data to identify your converting traffic by their demographic, technographic, geographic, and behavioral traits. Use that information to target users in a completely new way by sending them relevant, targeted messages. Best of all, you can choose to run impression-based ads and pay per thousand impressions (i.e., CPM) which ends up becoming very cost-efficient.
For just a few dollars you can get your brand in front of thousands of prospects. This strategy adds to a small business’s marketing arsenal and has the potential to reach entirely new audiences and drive new revenue.
Summing it up
The presidential candidates use a plethora of marketing strategies to win elections. What small businesses don’t realize is they have within their means the same tools and technology to execute the same marketing strategies.
Small businesses can allocate resources to building high-converting websites, networking at events, sending out surveys to their customers, and taking advantage of big data to run advertising campaigns.
If a candidate can become President of the United States using these strategies, then your business can certainly thrive on them, too.