5 Proven Marketing Lessons from the 2012 Presidential Campaign

As the political season nears its climax, the marketing gears are grinding faster to help candidates earn every last vote. Continue reading to see what lessons you can learn from one of the most expensive elections in history.

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for this election to be over.

My Facebook is being held hostage by political comments, my TV is overwhelmed with campaign news and I have no idea who “built” what or what’s supposed to go “forward.”

If anything, the silver lining for nerds like myself is that this election provides a riveting case study in mass marketing. To explain what we’ve picked up so far, pay attention as we examine a few pages from the playbooks of this year’s candidates.


Know your most important target audiences

Texas is far from a battleground state this year, and it shows. Neither candidate has spent much, if any, time or money campaigning here. If you live in Ohio or Virginia, however, you’re being bombarded by campaign messages as both candidates spend countless hours and dollars appealing to every last voter. Why? It’s simple: these states have the biggest impact on the election’s outcome.

Takeaway: Identify the audience that’s most important to achieving your business goals. Spend the most time and dollars working to win their favor and don’t worry about pleasing everyone else. No matter what you’re selling, there are people that your product just doesn’t appeal to, and that’s okay. For example, you wouldn’t see AARP ads on Nickelodeon, would you?


Data is critical to effective marketing campaigns

Behind the scenes, both campaigns are heavily reliant on massive amounts of data to help them make strategic decisions. Whether it’s the latest poll numbers, the voting populations of specific counties or millions of email addresses, this year’s candidates are fully dependent on the data they’ve compiled to determine their next move. If you think about it, this makes sense: why make a guess when you can make a well-informed decision?

Takeaway: Learn to embrace data. Far too many business owners, especially new entrepreneurs or those running smaller operations, neglect key data points that help increase performance while saving lots of cash. To get started, learn the basics of your analytics tools and establish key metrics to track your performance. Trusting the numbers instead of your gut will help your business transition from a “shoot and spray” approach to a highly effective “sniper” attitude that targets the right people at the right time.


Don’t be a flip-flopper

To keep one’s head above political water, being consistent on key issues is a must. For example, Mitt Romney has a grand opportunity to win votes based on his opposition to “Obamacare.” The only problem? There was a similar program implemented in Massachusetts when he was governor. Along the same lines, President Obama has held a lead in the polls regarding foreign policy. That advantage recently came under fire after a perceived flip flop after attacks on the US consulate in Libya.

The point is this: whether you think the candidates flipped, flopped or did nothing, a change in position throws a roadblock into capitalizing on one’s strengths.

Takeaway: Consistent messaging is an absolute necessity to building a solid, reliable brand. To do so, find your business’ value proposition and reinforce it across all marketing communications. Keep the same message, tone and ideas at the forefront of your marketing campaigns and you’ll begin to carve a strong, consistent point of difference that separates you from the competition.


Be transparent

Between Obama’s birth certificate and Romney’s tax returns, there’s been a big stink about the reluctance of both candidates to release certain documents. Did these pieces of paper impact any issues facing the country? No, but they did contribute to the perception that these leaders were hiding something. This caused a sense of mistrust among many voters, and even worse, gave extra ammunition to the opposing party.

Takeaway: Trust and perception are everything. Paint the best picture of your business by being as transparent as possible. If you have a customer issue, be forthright about the mistake and apologize. Give customers access to information about your business via email and social media. Remember, people like to do business with people that are likable, and likability is directly correlated to trust.


Embrace new technologies

Eisenhower won the election of ’52 thanks to radio, Kennedy the 1960 election thanks to television and Obama in 2008 thanks to digital media. This year, many argue that the winner of this election will be the one who best leverages new data technologies. Regardless of year or election, the candidate who embraces the latest technology has a proven edge in taking home the presidency.

Takeaway: Be on the lookout for new tools to enhance your business. Perhaps it’s a new app that helps manage your time or a resource that helps streamline your inventory management. Whatever the case, keep tabs on emerging technologies and try to capitalize on them first – early adoption can often lead to a major competitive edge.


Whether you’re a political junkie or are totally over the election, don’t miss the opportunity to apply these proven marketing strategies to your business. Even if you’re not trying to win the hearts of millions, you can make a big impact on your bottom line by keeping these ideas in mind.

And seriously folks, get out there and vote this November.

Happy selling!
-Matt Winn, Volusion


Matt Winn is Volusion’s Senior Brand Manager, where he helps oversee the organization’s branding and communications efforts. Matt has created hundreds of articles, videos and seminars on all things ecommerce, ranging from online marketing to web design and customer experience. Beyond being a certified nerd, Matt is an avid college football fan, enthusiastic home cook and a self-admitted reality TV junkie.

Leave a Reply