What do the Presidential primaries have to do with marketing? Everything!
If the primary season is a sales funnel, getting voters to vote for you is the ultimate conversion. We’ll have to wait until November to see which candidate has the highest conversion rate, but in the meantime, here are some marketing suggestions for the candidates.
Everyone needs marketing — even the winners. Look at the political arena for examples: Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have won the majority of primary contests so far and they are presumed to be the nominees for the parties in the presidential election.
Have They Succeeded?
Moving forward they face additional hurdles that, if left unaddressed, could doom their chances to win the big prize.
A New York Times article, for instance, demonstrated that both candidates are disliked by large portions of the voting population. According to Gallup, 53 percent of Americans have an unfavorable opinion of Clinton and 63 percent have an unfavorable opinion of Trump.
What’s a presidential candidate to do?
No doubt over the next several months, Trump and Clinton will continue to spend a ton of money trying to make voters believe that each of them are the best choice. They’ll do this by marketing themselves, their ideas and their plans for our country.
I’m not marketing for either candidate, but if I were, this would be my advice.
Some people think you are tough and outspoken. Others think you are offensive and reckless. If you want enough people to vote for you, you’ll have to be more likable to a wider audience of voters. Your style may appeal to the disaffected, but there may not be enough of them to elect you into office.
The people who vote for president are human beings. They speak with words that make up sentences, and strung together those sentences create real conversations, not sound bites. Most people have come to mistrust politicians that speak in sound bites and they don’t want a continuation of the political gridlock, or posturing, or positioning that Washington has become. You are considered by many to be part of the machinery that represents everything that is wrong with politics today. If you want more people to vote for you, you need to let them know who you really are, what you stand for and what you will really do to improve their lives.
Trump is confident. While the rest of us weigh pros and cons, he speaks his mind in a blunt way. He believes what he’s saying. His goal should be to act presidential – but not dictatorial — without diminishing his perceived confidence. The question he must answer is whether he can confront not just hecklers at his rallies but domestic and international challenges with serious solutions.
Clinton has experience. No one else has faced the political misfortunes and highlights that she has. Now she needs to prove she is human and not just a product of political legacy. She must convince enough voters that she will work with integrity for the everyday person.
Most marketing approaches build on strengths and address weaknesses. Often marketing explains how shortcomings will be fixed.
One attempt would be to “soften” Trump. An easier-going, appealing-to-all demeanor might make him more appealing to voters who do not currently align with him. But if you soften Trump, you risk alienating his base of loyal supporters. If you double down on his outspokenness, you run the risk of offending wavering voters.
If you double down on Clinton’s experience, you run the risk of opening her up to even more scrutiny. If you attempt to market her as a plain-speaking Sarah Palin, you could end up with a candidate nobody trusts.
For Trump: I don’t have experience as a politician – and I don’t need it. As a businessman I’ve made plenty of deals. I know how to bargain with tough partners and come out ahead. They respect my belief in myself.
For Clinton: Things haven’t always turned out the way I wanted them to, but I pushed forward to correct my mistakes and try new approaches. In a complex world, you have to work through failures and disappointments so that you can succeed in the end.
Marketing does not exist in a vacuum
For businesses and politicians alike, approaches and messages are tested to determine which connect best with consumers and which prompt them to take action. A presidential race becomes the ultimate Coke vs. Pepsi commercial.
You might have to sift through competing claims and perspectives but if marketing works as it should, you will have a clear view of your choices and you will make a decision based on what is best for you (or the nation).
Whether you are a solopreneur hoping to create a sustainable, multimillion dollar business, or the individual planning to lead the free world, your goal is the same: Market to win.
In marketing you can spend resources trying to shore up your weaknesses or double down on your strengths. I’d rather see each candidate exposed as who they really are — leverage their strengths instead of trying to spin a truth about who they are not.
If you have a product or service to market (and you do) you can market your strengths, or you can attempt to address your shortcomings. What direction would you advise the candidates to go? Let us know in the Comments section below. A real person (not a politician) reads and responds to all comments.
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