Yes, Marketers Should Play Politics

Election Day is tomorrow.

Historically, midterm elections have a much smaller voter turnout. Only about 40% of those eligible to vote actually go to the polls during the midterm elections. But that doesn’t make this Election Day any less important than presidential elections. This year’s midterms will determine who’ll be filling all 435 seats in the House and the 36 Senate seats up for grabs. And of course, there will be numerous state and local elections. All will set the political tone for the next president of the United States; and I feel, if they haven’t already, marketers should get in on the conversation.

This time of year is an opportune time for brand marketers to win the vote of shoppers. Political campaigns and social issues can be effective conduits for marketers to channel consumers’ attention to a company’s stance on hot-button issues—and in turn on company products. Hard to reach demos, such as the estimated 86 million millennials in the U.S., can possibly be galvanized by marketers’ willingness to at least acknowledge current events; and perhaps they can give those who are disenchanted by politics and social issues a reason to add their voices to the dialogue. Roughly about 45 million millennials are eligible to vote, and experts predict that number will double by 2020, when they say millennials will make up the single largest chunk of the electorate at 40%. Political pundits say millennials are up for grabs this political season; in fact, recent polls show the group of young voters relatively split when it comes to the political party that will control Congress next year.

Millennials are also up for grabs for marketers. The reasons for that, to me, are pretty clear. Nowadays many customers, especially millennials, expect brands to have a conscience, take a clear stance on an issue, or at least be aware. It’s those companies that tap into the current social and political topics that can create die-hard brand advocates who feel not just a connection to products and services but are also tied to a brand’s distinct point of view.

So here’s the question: How can marketers jump into the political and social scenes?

The answer: pretty much through any channel of choice. Social is a great way to share election-themed content. Emails are the perfect way to remind shoppers that a brand is in tune with the goings-on. Direct mail, display ads, and mobile are effective channels that allow a brand to bet on storytelling as a way to engage shoppers. How? By distributing brand-created stories, and of course, narratives of current and potential customers. Exceptional communication garners votes and wins elections; and for marketers it can attract new customers, boost a company’s image, and ultimately increase sales.

Election Day is an opportunity for brands to make real—and potentially profitable—connections with shoppers. Learning to connect with consumers through major events like Election Day, or even current news stories, enables marketers to create campaigns that convince consumers to buy products both over the short and long term. Ultimately, consumers will reach back and vote for your products on social media, through word of mouth, and of course with their dollars.

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