Harebrained marketing | VailDaily.com

Harebrained marketing

by Kelly Coffey

Presidential hopefuls like Barak Obama, Rudy Giuliani, Hillary Clinton and John McCain will keep making headlines for the next year and a half.

We as small business marketers can learn a thing or two from these White House wannabes ” or at least their political campaigns. After all, running for political office is nothing more than marketing in a combat zone.

The first time I heard this comparison was at a seminar with Steve Cone, head of advertising for Citigroup Wealth Management. Having been part of a number of political campaigns myself, I quickly agreed with Cone. I also see the links between a well-run political campaign and a successful marketing campaign.

Here’s my take on how to create a campaign that won’t let your company become an “also-ran.”

Have a spokesperson. People like people, not abstract concepts. Your company’s spokesperson will probably be the owner, but it might also be an employee, a local personality or even a fictional character. Like a presidential candidate, your spokesperson’s face should be on your newspaper ads, brochures, and Web site.

Her voice should be on the radio and even your company’s voicemail.

A good spokesperson’s personality traits and values should complement and enhance your business’s own values and brand identity. That’s why Michael Jordan was such a great fit for Nike.

Set a deadline. Election Day is always on candidates’ minds. Some date should always be on yours.

It may be a big event you’re hosting, an end-of-season sale or the big holiday rush. With a sense of urgency in your mind, your marketing efforts will have a better sense of purpose and won’t be set aside when that payroll snafu ties up your time.

Call to action. Voters know what a candidate wants from them: vote for me. Does your advertising tell your customer what you want them to do?

Always get them to take the next step: Come in this weekend for our sale, visit our Web site or call for a free quote. An advertisement without a call to action is just a pretty picture and an expensive one at that.

Think grassroots. During last year’s election, State Rep. Dan Gibbs made sure he was at every local meeting and event that voters attended. Opportunities are everywhere for local grass roots visibility. This is where small businesses have the advantage over big corporations. Go to where your customers are going. For instance, a physical therapist may offer to give free massages at the local lacrosse game.

Best of all, these chances costs very little or nothing at all. Keep your eyes open, opportunity is all around you.

Campaigners spend long days pushing past exhaustion to fight for their jobs. You should insert that same passion into your marketing. Market as if the life of your business depends on it. After all, it does.

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