There's little doubt that the line separating politics from marketing is fading with each campaign. The purpose of this post is not to comment on that dynamic, nor to offer commentary on the recent presidential election. Rather, it is to examine the aftermath of this campaign and see what lessons marketers can learn from these increasingly sophisticated and well-funded political campaigns.
Here are three simple questions a marketer can ask before launching a major new campaign:
Are you aligning your brand with emerging demographic trends? Chances are your customer base looks nothing like you – it is increasingly multicultural; it must appeal to a new generation of well-educated and empowered women; it is consumed in gay and lesbian homes. This doesn't suggest that a marketer should abandon its core customer group. What this means is that we should stop treating "diverse" audiences as secondary or tertiary targets and make sure these customers are well represented in the brand's main campaigns and media strategies.
Are you using analytics to understand the science of persuasion? Gut feel doesn't cut it nine out of ten times. We live in a world of facts and analytics. Use data to understand how consumers behave. The Obama campaign team built a massive predictive analytics database to guide media selection, direct mail offers and advertising messaging. Setting aside political leanings, this is precision marketing at its best.
Is the brand idea built on clearly defined brand equity? Consumers, like voters, seek clarity. This is not likely to change any time soon. In fact, given the 24/7 media overload, clarity is more important than ever. Obama's campaign organized all of its messaging within a simple one-word brand equity: Forward. It was clear and positive.