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What Marketers Can Learn from the 2016 Presidential Campaigns

By Jenna Bruce on Tue, Aug 09, 2016 @ 01:00 PM |


When you think about it, your marketing campaign has an awful lot in common with a political campaign. For starters, politicians, like brands, try to influence key demographics by offering solutions to problems. They also strive to make sure their message is always consistent and memorable.

If you’re a company looking to increase your reach and sales, you need to view your marketing plan the same way a strategist approaches the campaign trail. Here are some of the things marketers can learn from the 2016 presidential campaigns.

Consumers Aren't IMpressed by the Same-Old Same-OldConsumers Aren’t Impressed by the Same-Old Same-Old

One of the most blatant lessons to come out of the 2016 campaigns is that the American people are tired of establishment politics. Just look at the popularity of a non-establishment candidate like Trump. He is nothing like we’ve seen before in an election year. Brash, unapologetic and unpredictable, he says what others don’t and uses Twitter like a Champion.

Even someone like Bernie Sanders, though a professional politician, has been embraced mostly because of his praise for socialism and promise of radical changes needed for the current economic structure. He doesn’t feel establishment (or at least he didn’t before Clinton won the Democratic slot).

The popularity of these two different politicians speaks to the desire of the people for something new and fresh.

Consumers, who are bombarded each day with hundreds of the same-old, same-old marketing spiel, are also hungry for a brand message that can stand out in a sea of white noise. If you want to be successful, you’ve got to differentiate yourself from the competition.

Bigger Budgets Don’t Automatically Mean Success

Up until this present election, the campaigns that spent the most money on pushing their ads typically did the best at the polls. But not this year. According to data from Fox, Until very recently Trump was only spending about $40 per vote, whereas someone like Jeb Bush, who dropped out rather early in the race and was trailing Trump the entire time, spent nearly $1,200 for each vote. And Sanders was running a very successful campaign on a tiny budget.

What can you glean from this? Focus on HOW you spend your money, NOT how much.

Keep Your Message Simple

Politicians that do well tend to repeat one, clear, simple message over and over again. When Barack Obama ran in 2008, he was the President that promoted hope and change and “Yes we can.” This appealed to many idealistic young adults who were frustrated by an antiquated system.

Donald Trump supporters chant “Make America Great Again” as they wish for a bygone era; a time when this country was perhaps safer and more economically viable.

In your own campaigns, take a message that me be a bit complex and nuanced and try and convey it in one simple, memorable tagline.

Your Product Must Deliver What You PromiseYour product must deliver what you promise

Just about every politician who has ever run for POTUS has run a campaign full of BIG promises. They promise to balance the budget, promise to create more jobs, promise to bring our troops home. More often than not, as soon as they’re in the White House, they deliver very little on the promises that got them into office.

If your campaigns promise solutions, you had better be sure your product or service can make good on those promises and deliver the solutions. Here’s why:

So many businesses focus on acquiring more and more new customers, but repeat business is critical for success. This is because when customers are happy and come back for more, there are no acquisition costs involved.


While political candidates aren’t exactly the same as brands, the tactics they use to increase their visibility and inspire loyalty among voters are effective. Today’s marketers would do well to explore these same tactics in their own campaigns.

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