Thank goodness November is over. Why? Because it was political ad month and I hate political advertising. It all tends to focus on half-truths, personal attacks, and shady tactics to convince voters they should vote against someone, not for someone. This is totally against the ad principles I share in my book (www.powershiftmarketingbook.com). If you want to see what I mean, just check out AdWeek Magazine’s very funny blog that shows the ten “freakiest” political ads in the 2010 election (http://adweek.blogs.com/adfreak/the-freakiest-campaign-ads-of-2010)
With that said, I finally agreed to handle my first campaign for Don Skundrick, a person I respect immensely. Although I initially turned Don down, when he and his campaign team agreed that our campaign for Jackson County Commissioner would only focus on issues, I was intrigued. Could a political campaign take a different road?
Well, Don got elected, that was nice, but I was almost more excited when the local paper, the Medford Mail Tribune, stated in an editorial: “No matter who wins the two seats open on the board, Jeff Golden, John Rachor, Don Skundrick and Mark Wisnovsky have conducted the kind of campaigns candidates everywhere could learn from.” So, what did I learned during the campaign that might help you market your business?
First, ad campaigns that serve the public begin with candidates that are personally grounded and have the courage of their convictions, so they can stay on message, and not be swayed by paid advisors, supporters, political action committees, or their own experts. This is the same for marketing products and services. Are you really focused on communicating what makes your product/service unique (it requires listening to your customers) or are you letting others shape your message… or worse, just trying to react to your competition, focusing your efforts on what others are doing and saying?
You also need to be 100% focused on building your brand, not tearing down another brand. Throughout the campaign, I always asked: “Is what we are communicating helping people understand Don as a person and his views, or is it simply attacking the weakness of the other candidate?” Most political ads couldn’t pass this test. Could you advertising pass this test? I took a lesson out of the Nike playbook, the best-known brand in the world. They don’t spend any money or time telling you the weaknesses of competing brands. Some food for thought.