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  • Writer's pictureJessica Keefe


Etiquette suggests avoiding the topic of politics in mixed company. This month, we are throwing etiquette to the wind as we make the case for Measure M (see next column) and explore the marketing lessons that can be gleaned in this more-than-unusual election season.

No matter where you stand on the issues or candidates, there is no denying the power of millions of dollars strategically spent solely to harness our support and the influence those strategies can have on our everyday marketing.

1. Real Feedback in Real Time

Accessing social media networks has become one of the most common uses for a smartphone, especially among milliennials. In fact, 61 percent of millennials get the majority of their political news from Facebook. The presidential candidates have therefore wasted no time in jumping onto the social media bandwagon.

Mastering social media is a matter of creating a distinct personality. Politics aside, most marketers agree that Trump is the campaign's social media standout by making his posts timely, relevant and interactive. He takes the idea of 'newsjacking' - generating media coverage from breaking news - to a new level by making, some might say, inflammatory remarks that go viral and incite comment.

The same can be said for a small business (minus the inflammatory part). Take advantage of your social media accounts and connect with your audience with information that invites real-time interaction.

2. It's All About Segmenting

Political campaigns have now completely embraced the practice of segmenting voters to craft different messages for those audiences. Candidates can produce ads overnight, tailor them to specific markets and have them up in the morning, For example, policies that make sense in Southern California don't in Northern California. Technology didn't used to allow for that kind of flexibility. Now it does.

Similarly, savvy marketers will target advertising and promotions to specific customers. In today's era of hyper-personalization, customers are used to receiving and have to come to expect personalized emails and promotions.

3. Mobile is King

In 2011, when President Obama was running, only 35 percent of Americans had a smartphone. Today that figure is closer to 65 percent. And not only do more people in the U.S. have smartphones, they are relying on them for more functions. For example, 1 out of 10 Americans do not have access to broadband at home and solely rely on their smartphone to access the Internet.

For that reason alone, mobile and other technologies are playing a crucial role in the current election.

Marketers should take notice. Today, there is no excuse for disseminating a message that is not mobile-compatible.

4. Be a Winner with the Right Endorsements

Campaign managers count on the fact that voters can often be swayed by an influential figure who offers an endorsement. Which is why they spend millions of dollars to advertise their candidate's roster of supporters.

The same is true in marketing. Pay special attention to the testimonials and reviews you receive, especially those from people who are perceived as having valuable opinions, and exploit them to the max.

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