Marketing and Politics: Not Too Different in 2019

The way we market has completely changed in recent years. Not only have trends in marketing shifted, so too have trends in social media. But of course, marketing isn’t the only thing that has changed how social media looks in 2019.

Whether you love or hate Donald Trump or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, you have to admit both are brilliant at using social media. They treat it like a tool to market themselves and their ideologies to a wider audience. Why has #MAGA and #AOC had such an impact? It goes back to the same basic marketing principles that any small business can apply.

Both Tap Into a Key Emotional Insight

The marketing of both of our #political stars tap into a strong emotional insight, ironically caused by the same societal trend – the changing demographics of the US. On the #MAGA side, I would argue you have the people who feel left behind by the changes in technology, demographics, and shift in economic opportunity.  On the #AOC side, I would propose you have those who have benefited from the changing demographics, technology, and shift to a gig economy mindset. Both hit a raw nerve within their target audiences.

Political-Star Marketing Demonstrate the Power of a Strong Insight to Change Behavior

One look at Donald Trump’s rallies, and you can see the raw emotion driving the excitement of the crowds. His audience wears his MAGA gear as a sense of pride and belonging.

Likewise, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was an unknown bartender from the Bronx just 18 months ago, but she tapped into the fury felt by her audience, their repulsion of the principles driving MAGA, and impatience for change. By leveraging that fury, she was able to catapult herself into the national spotlight.

They Both Underscore the Risk of a Powerful Insight

A powerful insight is only beneficial if you can deliver the benefit you promise. Our # political stars face significant challenges on this front. It a challenge all marketers face.

First MAGA, Donald Trump can no more stop the changes taking place in today’s society, than he can stop the sun from rising. He can blame this or that, but after some point, you have to deliver.

Likewise, the same is true for #AOC, she can no more impose her policy positions than she can make it rain.

The power of the insight and the emotion behind it will likely sustain them for a while, but eventually, the benefit will have to be delivered. Importantly, this is true for any marketing.

So, What Can Small Businesses Learn from our # Political Stars Marketing?

Build a Powerful Insight

An “insight” is defined as a statement which connects with the target on an emotional level (fear, hope, love, etc.), that when leveraged, can change behavior. In our post, “How to Create Marketing Content That Gets Attention AND Sells”, we discuss the insight in more detail, but we hope # Political Stars examples have driving this home.

Have a Unique Benefit that Delivers Against the Insight

Delivering a benefit based on a strong insight will definitely get immediate results. Delivering that benefit uniquely will get you BOTH immediate and long-lasting results. As small business owners, we need both. 

Being Provocative Works

This is a tough one for me, personally. I grew up in marketing during an age when offending someone was viewed as a huge negative. Brands tended to steer clear of controversy and kept negative press to a minimum.

However, if I’ve learned anything over the past 4 years for the marketing of our # political stars, it is that being provocative cuts through the clutter. The media clutter is exponentially more than it was 10 or 20 years ago. There is so much noise now, shouting is the only option left. Whether this provides a long-term benefit remains to be seen, but to deny it is to deny reality.

Finally, Be Authentic

All brands need to be authentic. Each has a personality. If it’s fake or stilted, people aren’t shy in calling you out on it. Nor, are they willing to tolerate it as much as in the past. # Political stars’ marketing has taught us that.

Not everyone is cut out to be so outspoken or comfortable with criticism. However, truly being authentic takes courage. It means being loved by some but disliked by others. You need to stand for something, or else you stand for nothing. 

In closing, you need to keep that authenticity front and center. For Mr. Trump, “TOTAL EXHONORATION” is considered a lie to most, but it’s authentic to his base. His defiance is their defiance. For Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, her 5 AM Instagram of washing her clothes may be seen as a just another Millennial over-sharing, but I assure you, it’s not. To her base, it’s a powerful image of a common struggle they all face – the impact of meeting the demands of today’s work environment for young people.

Key takeaways from the # Political Stars Marketing

Look, if an unknown bartender can make the leap, why doesn’t this work for everyone? Well, there are three reasons. First, true emotional insights are hard to find. Just being provocative for provocative sake isn’t going to get the job done. Second, delivering a benefit that truly satisfies that insight is also not simple. In fact, it’s the risk that both Trump and AOC have yet to achieve, fully. Finally, not everyone is comfortable with being provocative.

All that said, we can still take elements from this playbook to make ourselves more successful. First, get to know your customers. Understand their issues. It’s only by doing this can you truly find a meaningful insight. Second, position yourself in such a way that ONLY your business can deliver on that insight. This may cause you to be provocative, but as we’ve seen, being provocative works. Finally, stay authentic. Be true to your brand.

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