Every sale is a miniature election

Share this content:
Tim Kane
Tim Kane

In 1972's The Candidate, Robert Redford plays an idealistic young politician who is shocked to discover that his campaign manager is using consumer marketing to drive his candidacy. Years later, we're real­izing that not only do candidates need to be sold like brands, but brands need to be sold like candidates. The reason? People don't buy brands, they join them.

People don't want to passively receive messages; they expect to be engaged in an active dialogue. They're not “customers” at all. They're constituents. As a result, smart marketers are acting more and more like cam­paign managers, setting aside traditional tac­tics and embracing the lessons of politics.

Successful brands, like winning politi­cians, are organized around issues. When Citibank's credit cards were recently attacked by low-rate cards. Citi responded with a series of ads that shifted the discussion away from interest rates to identity theft. By reframing the issue, they ended up stealing share from the competition.

Like any candidate, your brand will com­pete for constituent loyalty. And as Al Gore learned, the winner isn't always the details wonk. The key is to create a story with dis­tinct characters, like the youthful idealist trumping the experienced cynic — such as in 1960s Kennedy/Nixon race.

Apple has always been a master of this technique, from “The computer for the rest of us” to their Mac vs. PC campaign. No matter what Microsoft unveils, PC loyal­ists always fear a more sophisticated Mac is around the corner.

Though momentum is building, you still won't win unless your supporters show up. The quality of your infrastructure often defines your brand's relationship with its constituents.

Ten years ago, the idea of selling shoes online was madness. Then, Zappos.com asked what if instead of avoiding returns, you embraced them? Here's the return box, here's the return postage, here's your money back. Zappos today is a nation unto itself.

Just like any President- or Dogcatcher-elect, the marketer's task is to keep the promises made — and to make sure everybody sees you doing it, because the last thing you want to do is to supply the issue for the next election.

tkane@makovsky.com

Loading links....
close

Next Article in Multichannel Marketing

Sign up to our newsletters

Company of the Week

We recently were named B2B Magazine's Direct Marketing Agency of the Year, and with good reason: We make real, measureable, positive change happen for our clients. A full-service agency founded in 1974, Bader Rutter expertly helps you get the right message to the right audience at the right time through the right channels. As we engage our clients' audiences along their journey, direct marketing (email, direct mail, phone, SMS) and behavioral marketing (SEM, retargeting, contextual) channels deliver information relevant to the needs of each stage. We are experts at implementing and leveraging marketing technologies such as CRM and marketing automation in order to synchronize sales and marketing communications. Our team of architects and activators plan, execute, measure and adjust in real time to ensure the strategy is working as needed and change things if it's not.

Find out more here »

DMN's Career Center

Check out hundreds of exciting professional opportunities available on DMN's Career Center.  
Explore careers in digital marketing, sales, eCommerce, marketing communications, IT, data strategies, and much more. And don't forget to update your resume so employers can contact you privately about job opportunities.

>>Click Here