Rage Against The Political Machine — 5 Takeaways for Your Marketing Efforts

I’m not a political junkie, but I do consider myself a well-informed voter. I vote for each candidate individually, not strictly along party lines, and actually put some time and thought into my decisions. Throw in the fact that I’m an advertising major, and you probably figure I can’t get enough of the campaign season. Right?

Nixon campaigns

Wrong. When I cast my ballot today, I not only felt a sense of pride about participating in the electoral process, but also a sense of relief that the annoying attack ads, endless array of (bad) direct mail pieces and make-my-head-explode robo calls would be coming to a halt. I love America, but sometimes I swear political campaigns are the least effective advertising anywhere.

Surprisingly, there are actually some good strategies to follow coming out of political advertising, and of course, there are other strategies going on that you should run away from as fast as you can. Below are five takeaways — good and bad — from the political advertising machine.

1) DO Brand Yourself –> OK, you don’t have to stick with yard signs and bumper stickers. There are thousands upon thousands of promotional items that you can brand with your logo and/or message. Why promotional products? Because they work. The statistics abound but consider this:

82.6% of people can recall the company and brand on their promotional product and 50% have a favorable impression of the advertiser. To take it further, 83% of people like promotional products and 58% keep them for one year or longer. How’s that for effective?

2) DO Collaborate/Partner –> Find companies with similar audiences to spread the love, cut costs and increase exposure. For example, the Akron Public Schools (APS) had a new levy on the ballot, which they desperately needed passed. They worked with a popular local race (the Project Homeless Connect 10k & 5k) to further promote their cause. An eye-catching direct mail piece that explained exactly how the levy would benefit students was included in each runner’s swag bag (no mailing costs), and the race director spoke favorably of the levy during the awards presentation. In addition to attaching itself to a great cause, the APS touched hundreds of members of its target audience at one time with only a small expense (printing costs).

3) DON’T Spam –> For some of the races, I did some additional research before figuring out who I was voting for. When I received direct mail pieces from these candidates, I kept them to look over later. When I dug them out the night before the election, I couldn’t believe how many duplicates I had received of the exact same pieces. Not only is this not at all cost effective, it doesn’t impress many people. If you’re going to really utilize one form of advertising, at least mix it up. One judge in particular stood out because her pieces were all different, including letters of recommendation from others, examples of her past success and highlighting different reasons why she was worthy of your vote (instead of cramming everything onto one piece like an encyclopedia). Go figure, I ended up voting for her.

4) DON’T Attack –> One other note about the judge I mentioned in the previous example… She only spoke about herself – how she was positively impacting the community, past decisions on cases, etc. She never attacked the other candidate even though the other candidate (or excuse me, her party) attacked her. (The other candidate claimed complete ignorance of the attack ads. Yeah right.) Like most people, I want to hear why I should vote for you (or buy your product), not why your competitor’s lacking. If you’re talking about your competitor, then I’m assuming that you have nothing positive to tell me about yourself (or your company).

5) DO Be True to Yourself –> Once you develop your brand’s voice, tell its story. Don’t embellish, misrepresent facts or flat out lie to make your brand sound better. If you feel like you have to do that, then something is missing. As I was discussing all of the blatantly false political ads with another woman in the voting line, she made a great point.

“I don’t lie,” she said. “When you lie, you have to remember what you said so that you can tell the same lie down the road. Just tell the truth; it’s so much easier.” That’s one thing we should all agree on.

So I hope everyone voted today to make your voice heard. Go ahead and take some key points from the political advertising machine to market your company or brand better while lowering costs and collaborating more effectively. If you remember only one thing, don’t use robo calls. EVER.

Happy Election Day!
Jaime

p.s. For more information on promotional products, visit http://www.promotionalproductswork.org/ or contact me.

Let’s chat (about political advertising, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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“We’re getting the band back together.”

Just think how much easier it would have been for Jake and Elwood Blues if they had social media to help their cause. Of course, it wouldn’t have been nearly entertaining for us if they did.

Blues Brothers car

The getaway mobile that got the band back together!
Photo courtesy of Stig Nygaard via Flickr

Are you getting the band back together? Here’s four ways social media can help:

  1. Create an event on Facebook. This works for a public event or one where you’d only like to invite your friends or specific individuals. Get a head count and discuss details to make sure your event is a big hit. Post highlights and pictures/videos during and after the event to continue the momentum. Encourage attendees to snap their own pictures and shoot videos while tagging your company’s or brand’s page to spread the word.
  2. Google+ Events is a helpful planning tool for in-person or virtual get together’s (Google+ Hangouts). You can even invite people not yet on this social media platform via email, so check it out for your next party. Create a ‘circle’ of attendees to easily disseminate information to them.
  3. Finalize details and locate attendees as they arrive on Twitter. No, there’s not a specific ‘events’ function, but this micro-blogging platform is perfect for promoting your event, asking others if they’re attending or to find out if someone your meeting for lunch is already at the restaurant. You can also ‘live tweet’ an event by tweeting updates while they’re happening. Create a hashtag (#myevent) for your event so virtual (and even in-person) attendees can easily follow.
  4. Blog about your event to raise awareness and create excitement. Ask others to guest blog so attendees can get multiple viewpoints and learn more about specific activities, panels, etc. Engage attendees by asking for their feedback via comments and polls. Your event’s story can be continued during the festivities to update those who couldn’t make it or fill in the blanks for attendees who missed a specific session or interesting point. Add pictures, videos and links to follow-up content to pique interest and continue the conversation.

How have you used social media to plan, promote or follow up for your events? I’d love to hear about your ideas below. Feel free to ask questions you may have about upcoming events on your schedule.

Enjoy today!
Jaime

Cause-Related Marketing: Support or Scam?

Cause-related marketing campaigns seem like a win-win situation. Consumers and businesses help support wonderful causes while the benefiting organizations raise much-needed funds. Do they really make a difference though?

As in most cases, cause-related marketing brings both good and bad. As a consumer, you can ask a few questions to ensure you really are supporting a great cause.

Yoplait Save Lids to Save Lives program

Since 1997, Yoplait has donated more than $34 million to breast cancer awareness through the Save Lids to Save Lives program, Race for the Cure and other initiatives.
Photo courtesy of Miss a Liss via Flickr

1) Is the cause meaningful to you? Do you believe in this organization and its mission? Target causes that you truly believe in and are close to your heart.

2) Who does the campaign benefit? Make sure that your purchase will support a reputable organization that will put the funds raised to good use. Charity Navigator is one place to check out nonprofit organizations that you’re not familiar with.

3) How is the program structured? Understand exactly how the charity will benefit through consumers’ purchases. For example, the sponsor may make a donation per purchase. Is the amount stated (i.e. 2% vs. 10%)? Is there a limit on the sponsoring company’s donation (i.e. first $100,000 raised)? Or is there a minimum amount to be raised before the company makes any donation?

4) How will the charity use the donated funds? Nonprofit organizations should be very clear on where their funds go, whether it be research, education, assisting those affected by their cause, administrative costs, etc.

5) Is the sponsoring company committed to the cause? If you’re not familiar with the company, review the packaging, display, in-store signage and/or literature for more information on its goals. Does it regularly support this cause? Does the company seem committed to making a difference?

Cause-related marketing programs can be a tremendous asset to nonprofit organizations or they can really be a scam. Do a little research to ensure that you are actually helping a worthy cause and that your hard-earned money wouldn’t be better spent.

For additional information:
Changing with the Times (MediaPost looks at what causes are hot in 2012.)
Yoplait Save Lids to Save Lives Program
Charity Navigator
Best Practices for Taking Up the Cause

Happy Boss’ Day to all of the great leaders out there!

Jaime

Sponsorship: Your Name Here

I was sitting at an Akron Aeros (AA affiliate of the Cleveland Indians) baseball game the other night when a hitter broke his bat. Shortly after he was thrown out at first (and the pitcher danced out of the way of the jagged bat head), the PA announcer said, “That broken bat was brought to you by MDF Bats. For major league quality bats…” Seriously.

Your Name Here!

Sponsorship opportunities are virtually limitless.

Sponsorship opportunities abound around nearly every turn, from sports to events and beyond. Some companies will do anything to see their name in lights while others question the ROI (return on investment) of such a commitment. Does your company utilize sponsorships as part of your marketing mix? How do you gauge success?

My association with sponsorships started young although I didn’t realize it at the time. No, my parents didn’t sell my forehead space to a company for $XXX. As most t-ball and little league players, my team was sponsored by a local company (which basically meant paying for the shirts. If they splurged for ice cream once in awhile after a game, that was a bonus). Of course, I didn’t think of the company as a sponsor; it was just a name on the front of my shirt (which was usually covered in enough mud or dirt to wipe out any exposure on my end). Hey, I was a catcher.

In high school, I became seriously interested in racing, especially NASCAR. Anyone familiar with the popular racing series knows that sponsors are essential to the sport today. That led to seeking sponsors for charity and/or non-profit events which eventually spilled into my marketing and event planning position where finalizing sponsors for our events was vital.

Can you measure the ROI of sponsorship?

Companies measure the ROI (return on investment) of sponsorships in different ways and some don’t measure them at all.

So maybe I’m biased, but I believe that sponsorships can really pay off if they’re a good fit and are marketed correctly, preferably on both sides. Speaking of the Aeros, I became familiar with my current HVAC company, Blind & Sons, due to their sponsorship of the team. Also, I recognized at some point that I patronized sponsors of NASCAR drivers I liked without even realizing it. Apparently most NASCAR fans do… According to studies, NASCAR fans buy over $3 billion of licensed products annually and are 3 times as likely to try and purchase sponsors’ products and services. In fact, NASCAR fans are considered the most brand loyal in all of sports. [Source: Race Day Sponsor]

As someone who solicited sponsors, I always tried to ensure the companies I worked with received as much value and exposure as possible. I also tried to target companies who were a good fit for a particular opportunity and would market the sponsorship on their end as well. To me, those were the sponsorships that made everyone happy.

So, have you worked with a company you noticed through sponsorship? If so, what were the results? (As the saying goes… you can have the best marketing in the world, but if the product or service doesn’t live up to expectations, ultimately it doesn’t matter.) I have worked with companies found via sponsorship and sold companies successful sponsorships, so I’m a believer in the process, if handled correctly. Besides, who can resist their name in lights?

I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences on sponsorships as a buyer or sponsor.

Cheers,
Jaime