The 2018 midterm elections are upon us and here at EZlocal, as with much of the greater nation, it’s spurred spirited conversation. In our case, that conversation keeps returning to one theme in particular: the parallels between marketing and politics. Now—if that’s true, politics might be apt to give marketing a bad name. Not in our case though. In the case of EZlocal, and this post specifically, the only pages we’ll be taking from political playbooks relate to their various successes with messaging and promotional activities. More specifically, we seek to understand the strategy and less so the content of the messaging. If we can extract the mechanics from the meaning, in other words, there’s much to be learned. After all, few companies can achieve their long-term growth objectives without targeted professional marketing efforts of some kind or another.
With that in mind, we offer you these thoughts on politics and your company’s online presence, as well as the substantial area of overlap that exists between the two subjects.
Create Consistent Messaging
What’s great about messaging is that it doesn’t have to be complicated to be effective. In fact, complicated is really not advisable in the realm of digital commerce, whether it’s a local business you’re marketing for or one of the nation’s household name brands. You may remember a certain politician from the 1980s: “When I hear your ideas, I’m reminded of that ad, ‘Where’s the beef?’” Yes, in some cases marketing and politics have intersected quite literally—collided even. Though that isn’t quite what we had in mind when we first mentioned the parallels, we couldn’t resist the reference. Who could?
So if complicated messaging is not what’s required, what is? Consistency and creativity—and that’s about it. If superior service is an organizational strong suit, for example, make it a central theme of your promotions and messaging. Reviews and testimonials should reinforce that message—without exception. The thing to keep in mind here is that it isn’t enough to occasionally make mention of superior service—the message must also be housed on a variety of platforms and likewise be easily accessible to people in search of your services. This way, folks will know what you can do for them and how well you can do it.
Set the Clock—Timing Is Everything
As is the case with politics, an essential element of marketing for your local business is timing. Timing is everything. You’ve heard it said countless times, but consider how many successful digital companies were not the first to enter their market and you can really start to see the point illustrated. Google, Facebook, and Yelp all come to mind. These companies, for all their outsized present-day status, did not actually invent the search engine, social media, or online reviews. They did, however, demonstrate impeccable timing. All three were what’s deemed “fast followers.” That is, they entered the market very soon after someone else had already come along and blazed the trail. In doing so, they were able to bypass research and development costs, not to mention the risk of non-adoption.
It’s the idea of striking while the iron is hot and it holds equally true in politics. How many candidates have timing to thank for their ascent? In some cases their timing was so essential that is was actually inseparable from the substance of their message. Readers will remember a little-known Illinois Senator by the name of Barrack Obama and his pledge back in 2004: “I can unequivocally say that I will not be running for national office in four years,” and in all likelihood that was true when it was first said. But political candidates, like businesses, can see the landscape shift beneath their feet in no time at all and must therefore remain tuned to opportunity when it arises. Had he waited, conflict in the Middle East would likely have become a less prominent issue, and Obama might well have been viewed as another U.S. Senator with one-time Presidential aspirations.
Timing, as they say, is everything.
Granted, these are extreme examples, although local markets are studded with countless examples of local businesses just like it, who knew the importance of timing.
Stay Adaptable—Multiple Platforms
Did you know that 60% of Americans believe there’s a need for a third major political party? Doubtless, many believe the majority of Republicans and Democrats do not speak on their behalf. Voters today (and buyers!) are empowered to make their needs and interests known. Unlike citizens in years past—and consumers for that matter—people today expect to play a central role in defining the issues, not to mention the market.
Likewise, local business owners need to be ready to enter into new platforms on short notice. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or otherwise, it pays to be familiar with multiple platforms, as you’ll want to gravitate toward the venue that your target audience frequents.
Even if your messaging should remain consistent—and it should—it clearly pays to be open to change when it comes to your environment and the channels you use to communicate to customers, peers, and prospects.
What about you? What are you thoughts on the subject? Have you ever detected similarities between the professional and the political? We welcome new voices to the conversation.