What Do Political Marketing and Jewelry Marketing Have in Common? Everything.
Ellen Fruchtman, President
Before Fruchtman Marketing was entrenched in marketing for jewelers and the jewelry industry, we were entrenched in local and regional political marketing. Yep. We were instrumental in getting the first African American Mayor of Toledo elected, who served our city from 2002 – 2006. We worked on many campaigns for City Council, State Representatives, elected offices for Lucas County, races for Judges, School Boards, and yes, even Congress. Once political advertising and marketing is in your blood, it never leaves. You make a choice to leave it, which is what we did many years ago. And, for a very good reason. It sucked the life out of us and our business. And quite frankly left me (and some of our then team members) truly jaded. It is not a business for the faint of heart. It is grueling. It is warfare. It is exhilarating as much as it is disappointing. It is deeply personal. To do it well, you become entrenched with the candidate. So much so that you can read their mind before they even say something. As a great consultant, you actively participate in everything from debate prep to crafting messaging to making decisions on minutia, like what tie or color they should wear for a public appearance. There are frantic calls happening late at night. You are constantly having to pivot based on the climate and news of the day. In looking back, we are proud of our success rate (it was pretty darn near perfect). And, what it succeeded in doing is helping us be as successful as we are in the jewelry industry. So, what do they have in common? Just about everything.
There are several jobs connected to any political campaign. And as an agency we typically do it all from Campaign Manager, Media Consultant, Communications Director, Field Director, Social Media Director, Policy Advisor, Pollster, Speechwriter, to Finance Director. The titles we typically hold within an agency may be a little different, but the jobs we would do for both are still very much the same.
In political marketing, there is a distinctive process you follow when you are marketing a candidate. And the same is true for how we market our clients today.
The Plan. It always starts with a plan. This plan should set your goals and strategies. And it’s the foundation of everything to come in a campaign. It is also the foundation for any successful business endeavor. The plan always includes a comprehensive budget. Because everything is so fluid in a political campaign, this is typically a moving target. That is not as true in our retail/jewelry industry world. 2020 has proven to be an exception to that rule. And, if anything, it showed the importance of having a plan and the importance of pivoting when needed.
The Narrative. When you work with any candidate, you must establish what they call the narrative. The narrative is the message you want to convey. You want to establish your points of differentiation. The same is true for a retailer or manufacturer. What makes you distinctive? What do you want to convey in a few succinct points? That’s your narrative. In politics, you want to be in control of the narrative. That’s playing offense. When you lose control of the narrative, your opponent is taking control. Then you find yourself playing defense – addressing items you never intended to address. Yep, there is a little sports analogy in all of this as well! In retail marketing, we liken losing control of the narrative to something we call “the power of one” marketing. This is where you allow one person (be it a competitor, inside staff-member, or one customer) to change the course of your core message. You change mid-stream to address some outside narrative that shouldn’t be addressed at all.
Research. You always start with some grandiose master plan in political marketing. The same is true in retail. You chart your course, hopefully, based on solid information. As an agency or political strategist, you need to understand the person you’re representing, and conversely, we need to understand the business we are going to represent. In politics there are polls. And we all know how much one can rely on that. There are also focus groups that are widely used. But, if you have a strong personality in the group, that can also sway the discussion. The research will provide some pertinent information. But a good consultant will have a general idea of where the ship should be steered. A good agency consultant should be able to do the same.
Campaign Slogans. This used to be my favorite part. You need something catchy, but it needs to support the candidate’s message for the time. For example, President Obama used “Yes We Can”, which was a message of change. As was Trump’s promise to “Make American Great Again”. Many businesses have slogans that support the message they want to convey. And, when you’re lucky enough to develop a great one, it not only endures, it sets the foundation for everything. In an industry where it’s hard to differentiate those differences, this might be something you want to seriously think about.
Voter Base. Every candidate has a voter base and those people who are very likely to vote for that candidate. The same is true in retail. We call it the 80/20 rule. Where 80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers. It’s the other 80% you have to find to take your business to the next level. In politics, you must persuade those others to come over to your side. Those are the people you must have to win the race. Typically, there are one (maybe two) very specific types of voters that give you the win and take you over the top. In retail marketing, we must persuade customers to walk through your door and sample your brand. You have to get into the mind of the buyer and develop the messaging that will persuade them to try you. And don’t rule anyone out. That has led to some major political disappointments along the way. You have to “Get Out the Vote” and convince a prospect that you are the right company to do business with, that you align with their needs and wants.
I guess you can say working in political marketing is truly a profile in courage. But isn’t that true of all business today?
Are you looking to win? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org. We can put you in office and change the course of your business!