Are you interested in building awareness and connecting with voters? Then, political marketing strategies are crucial. Like businesses, people want to know who you are and your purpose before giving their support. They also crave interactions and communication with those they support, as it makes them feel like they're a part of something bigger and more significant.
This is where digital marketing for political campaigns comes in, helping you connect, communicate, and resonate with potential voters. This is paramount because a recent study found that more than half of Americans don't trust their government and feel it isn't upheld in ways that help people like them.
Political marketing, driven by effective political advertising strategies, brings you closer to current and potential voters, building meaningful relationships founded on what you understand about them and how you can resolve their problems and add value to their lives. Here are our top tips on how to win a campaign and reach voters with political campaign branding.
1. Define Your Target Audience and Their Needs and Concerns
A campaign will only be successful if you reach and resonate with the right audience. Understandably, voters are very particular about whom they write down in their ballot, only giving their vote to those that share their values and stand for something they feel strongly about. To do this effectively, you must know them intimately and use that knowledge to communicate your value.
This begins with defining your target audience – i.e., who do you want to reach with your campaign?
Their needs and concerns will drive your whole campaign and lead to your success. So, start by considering the following:
- Demographics — their physical, behavioral, family status, occupational, etc.
- Values — the three core political values in the U.S. are liberty, equality, and democracy. What does that mean to them, and where do you stand on it?
- Beliefs are influenced by various factors, most commonly linked to their demographics. What are their beliefs on issues that matter?
Make sure where you stand on big topics is aligned with where they stand on those topics. More importantly, make sure it is adequately communicated to them that your values and beliefs are aligned with theirs.
You are your 'brand.' You are selling yourself to the public. Know that appealing to everyone is impossible, so know your audience instead!
2. Create Messaging that Resonates with Your Audience
Speak to your target audience's values, needs, beliefs, etc. In their eyes, you could be the best candidate for the position, equipped with everything they look for that adequately represents their political needs — but if that is not clearly represented in your messaging, they won't know it. And you'll likely lose a lot of potential votes as a result.
First and foremost, storytelling is important. Jennifer Aaker made a crucial point on Stanford's Harnessing the Power of Stories page, citing that "people think of advocating for their ideas, they think of convincing arguments based on data, facts, and figures. However, studies show that people are often more likely to be persuaded if you share a story. When data and story are used together, audiences are moved both intellectually and emotionally." Her findings also reported that storytelling makes you up to 22 times more memorable.
Combined with meaningful content, storytelling gives you the unique opportunity to evoke an emotional response and resonate with how you can resolve their pain points and problems.
Ask yourself: What messaging do they need to hear to believe you are the best person to represent them? It should be clear, consistent, and concise. Your personal brand should also back it:
- All messaging should be aligned with this brand.
- All channels should remain true to your core values, beliefs, style, and brand guidelines.
- Consistency is key because it takes at least 5-7 impressions for a voter to recall and recognize you — consistency speeds up the process.
3. Choose Your Political Marketing Channels Based on Where Your Audience Is
Now that you have insight into your audience and content that will resonate, the delivery will play a key role in reaching the right people with your message. Focus on reaching a mass audience with different marketing channels, and find your target audience where they are. Only focus on those avenues, but note that this is not limited to just one or two. According to research, people interact and support people and brands across 20 or more channels.
Using what you know about your ideal voters, combine an array of effective political advertising strategies:
- Create digital or print ads, videos, social media content, etc.
- Social media
- Website, blogging
- Newspapers, etc.
All slogans, messaging, ads, and awareness tactics should focus on your strengths. It may be tempting to focus on your opponent's weaknesses but don’t.
Focusing on your strengths ensures that your audience knows what you bring to the table, its value to their lives, and why they would do better to vote for you over your competition.
Using your target audience's values and beliefs, speak to their needs through marketing campaigns instead. In the end, you will look better than those that spend more time taking the other side down than they do highlighting their strengths.
5. Use Data-Driven Digital Marketing
Today, it's nearly impossible to find a soul that isn't on the internet and, therefore, easily reached through some form of digital marketing. On social media alone, political marketers are finding significant success. According to one academic study for Facebook, researchers found that social messages on the platform "increased turnout directly by about 60,000 voters and indirectly through social contagion by another 280,000 voters, for a total of 340,000 additional votes."
Other great data-driven digital marketing strategies include leveraging:
- Political SEO — organic search strategies like keyword phrasing, website optimization, relevant information, etc.
- SEM — paid advertising on search engines, notably Google.
- Email Marketing — craft an email list of supporters.
- Data Collection — collect valuable insights about your audience. Significant first-party data can be gathered through polls and surveys.
- Focus on Channels that are Performing the Best — i.e.; your audience is most active on, highest engagement rates, etc.
Regularly track and measure results, focusing more on what's working and improving other areas as you see fit.
6. Engage with Voters
Content messaging aside, the most important thing you can do to achieve success is always to remember to engage with prospective voters as much as possible. This could be done digitally or in person.
Voters love to be in the loop, especially if they hope to support you until the end. Regularly engaging with them makes them feel you genuinely care about their needs and problems and are here for more than just a quick vote into office.
This can include:
- Updates on the Campaign
- Important Dates
- Highlights of your Opinions, etc.
Bonus Tip: Partner with McClatchy for a Winning Political Marketing Campaign
Political campaigns are challenging because voters are much harder to reach and resonate with. Getting it right the first time is critical in political marketing. McClatchy has extensive experience in helping politicians with effective marketing campaigns.