In the middle of election fever, political marketing has become the talk of the town. Even those who are not involved in politics or are not familiar with all the hustles and bustles are exposed daily (whether they want to be or not) to the advertising actions of political campaigns.
Political actors have realized that the public eye is not an enemy, but a tool that must be exploited to the maximum if they want to position themselves organically and genuinely in the minds of their potential voters.
However, they must not only be positioned, they must also be installed in the long term, always for positive things. This is precisely where political marketing and all its aspects come into play, especially advertisements and publicity.
When it comes to politics, many people tend to mistake advertising and marketing as synonyms, which is far from being accurate. It is undeniable that both are crucial and, above all, complementary practices, since advertising would not be sustainable in the long term or even possible without the support of marketing practices.
Social media and digital ecosystems are already part of the daily life of a large part of the population, being the core where, among many other things, the potential voters of political parties are concentrated, wether in discussion forums, militancy accounts or simply as independent users who maintain interactions.
Working through the various areas of political marketing, candidates will not only be able to collect highly valuable data about their voters, opponents and other contenders for public office, but more importantly, they will also be able to use it to develop accurate and personalized political advertising campaigns with a very high success rate, tailored to appeal directly to their target audience.
Understanding your audience with political marketing: research and segmentation
Whether it is a political marketing project or any other application (regardless the field) of this set of strategies, carrying out the correct research and, subsequently, accurate segmentation is crucial.
In the same way that in any industry the main goal is to attract potential customers while preserving those who are already consolidated, the exact same situation occurs in politics, only that the customers are replaced by voters.
In order to achieve this, it is essential to make them feel heard, in other words, to appeal directly to their habits, tastes, objectives, desires and needs to capture their interest and keep it until the right time arrives.
Nevertheless, it would be naïve to believe that you can create a political campaign that will make everyone happy: that is why, as not all candidates are appreciated by all voters, it is important to conduct a target audience analysis and segmentation before starting the political marketing campaign.
In this way, efforts will be fruitful and you will not work in vain trying to conquer sectors that are out of your reach, making a better use of resources and reducing the margin of error by outlining realistic and attainable strategies.
The idea is to identify regular voters and work to keep them as such, while at the same time targeting new sectors in which, although you may not have the desired popularity, there is a wide possibility of projection and eventual transformation into active voters of your interests.
Creating an effective message: clarity, relevance and emotion for your political marketing strategy
Once you have identified the target audience towards which your political marketing campaign will be oriented, it is time to start shaping the main message around which your strategy will revolve.
As we have already seen, the goal of marketing applied to politics is to obtain as many votes as possible, and for that it is crucial to adapt the message to our target audience. In the first instance, a clear communications system must be developed through which to circulate the proposed ideologies.
As this happens, it will be possible to measure how the ideas are received, in order to refine the strategy and gradually limit it to the media with the most positive impact, as well as correcting the messages and the way of transmitting them.
Organizing events, meetings, neighborhood visits and, above all, establishing a positive and differential presence on social networks is also crucial to make your political message stand out.
It is always good to have the help of a specialist in political marketing for all this, especially when we talk about digital presence, since a professional in this field will be able to prevent the phenomenon of fake news and defamation in all its forms, something that, nowadays, is booming.
The political message should reflect the candidate’s values (be it inclusion, commitment to the environmental cause, caring for public health, etc.), the authentic person that they are, and it should be clear at all times what position they are seeking to reach and to which party they belong.
Your message must transmit closeness to your voters, appeal to their desires, hopes and ideals, making them see themselves reflected in your campaign in order to reinforce their voting intention.
Pay attention to their day-to-day problems and concerns, make sure you know them in depth in order to provide them with a real and satisfactory solution to improve their lives.
Your political message should also seek to instill positive behavior patterns in the population, thus helping society to grow and improve every day.
Main strategies to forge a strong political message:
1) Think of your campaign as if it were a brand: In political marketing we always like to think that the campaign is a reflection of the candidates’ identity. Therefore, a good image of the candidates should be forged, associating their figure to key aspects of their electoral proposal, such as health, economy, culture, etc. It is, if you will, a branding project for the candidate.
2) Aim to create a community: Voters are the core of a campaign’s operation. Therefore, promoting a healthy and active participation of voters throughout the entire campaign is extremely valuable. By shaping a consolidated community of committed and genuinely interested voters, they themselves will help you, directly or indirectly, to spread your messages and proposals. Opening spaces for debate, organizing events of different kinds and going around neighborhoods willing to talk to the residents are excellent ways to do this.
3) Polish each and every one of your content pieces: In political marketing (and in marketing in general), content is a central element. That is why each and every one of the pieces you design for your campaign (flyers, videos, photos or social media posts, etc.) must be consistent and, above all, convey a clear and accurate message that aligns with the ideals of your campaign and does not contradict your proposals.
We will now focus on this last point, paying special attention to everything that has to do with the visual, sonorous and verbal aspects of your campaign.
Ad design: the importance of the visuals, language and sounds in political marketing
As we have already mentioned, there are no pieces that are less important than others within politics: each poster, advertising spot, graphic for social networks or institutional video must follow a clear line that not only reflects the values and ideals of your campaign, but also differentiates you instantly from your competitors.
For a good political marketing campaign, then, you must invest time and resources in your design, audiovisual production and social media departments.
But this goes far beyond just images: the words you use in each copy, speech, book or journalistic article must be measured and thought through in detail, as they are also part of your political message.
The music you use in your different actions must also be aligned with your campaign and its goals. For example, a candidate who bets on traditional values would not choose a trap or cumbia song for his advertising spot, since that would most likely not be pleasant for his target audience.
Distribution strategies in the political marketplace: traditional and digital media
If it wants to shape a genuinely comprehensive strategy, political marketing should not close the doors to either traditional or digital media, but rather combine them.
The better the content we talked about in the previous points, the more likely it is to be spread organically in the networks. This, combined with good PR management and a strong community, will result in a campaign that will practically promote itself.
Contact with voters can also lead to fruitful ideas for new campaigns, actions and strategies, which will have an even higher success rate because they will be based on the habits of potential voters.
Social networks are also an excellent channel for politicians to communicate their day-to-day activities, show what projects they are involved in, give glimpses of what’s new, etc. All this, of course, must be taken with care and carried out with the advice of specialists, so as not to leak confidential information or, much less, make the candidate look ridiculous.
As for the traditional media, television and radio are the preferred platforms for political marketing, although the publication of articles in different newspapers can also be helpful.
The public road is one of the first things that comes to mind when anyone thinks of political advertising, and with good reason: it is an organic and effective way of exposure, as long as a good segmentation is carried out to identify in which areas it is profitable to invest in this kind of advertisement.
Case studies: successful political marketing campaigns
- Bernie Sanders: Through the dissemination of personalized messages in pursuit of fundraising, complemented with a series of videos in which he explained each and every one of his proposals, Sanders managed to go from 3% to 43% in voting intentions, raising, in addition, 218 million dollars along the way. We see, then, that investing in content was extremely profitable, and that, even though he did not win the election, Bernie Sanders’ digital political marketing campaign will be remembered for years to come.
- Barack Obama: Of all his political campaigns, the most memorable is undoubtedly the one in which Obama went from being a simple public functionary to being under the spotlight of the whole world and having two consecutive mandates in the White House. He created his renowned YouObama website, ran a massive SMS campaign and took full advantage of the capabilities of both Facebook and Twitter to make himself known.
- Iván Duque: Although in terms of political marketing strategies Duque was not so different from his competitors, what made him achieve victory was the type of language he opted for. Aiming for something humble and colloquial, he was assertive and accurate; he never directly attacked his opponents and, instead, he was proactive in his campaign. We see, then, the importance of using the right words, those that reflect the candidate’s values.
Political advertising in the digital age: challenges and opportunities
We have already mentioned that, in political marketing and for the dissemination of advertising at the political level, social networks and digital platforms in general are a highly valuable resource for creating communities, engaging in a more direct dialogue with voters, getting to know them better and offering them solutions that are as personalized as possible.
However, we have also anticipated that they can be a double-edged sword, since we live in what is undoubtedly the era of fake news.
By fake news we refer to all the strategies of manipulation of discourse, images and even, thanks to the power of artificial intelligence, videos, whose main purpose is to deplore the image of one or more individuals.
This is why extreme care must be taken when using social media for politics. It is recommended to have professionals verify the content before publishing it to reduce the margin of error and misrepresentation.
It is also very useful to hire specialists to check that the opponents do not circulate false, sensitive and damaging information both for the candidate and the formula.
Take advantage of political marketing opportunities with the help of experts
Political advertising actions (framed within an optimal political marketing strategy) can undoubtedly give great power to candidates and propel them to the top in the upcoming elections.
Nevertheless, in order for everything we have been discussing to be really possible, it is essential to contact political marketing specialists so that they can develop and implement comprehensive and customized strategies that are tailored to the goals of each formula or candidate.
By applying all of these points, together we will undoubtedly succeed in changing the minds and hearts of your voters, making them choose you organically.