Content Marketing,  Copywriting,  Writing Tips

What the 2016 Presidential Election is Teaching About the Future of Communication

It’s hard to miss. The 2016 race for the White House is in full swing. This time, with both parties presenting new candidates for the highest job in the country, the race is more heated than ever.

This time it’s different too.

On the Republican side there are three non-politicians in the race: Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina. All of them are doing better than their political counterparts.

On the Democrat side there is one fast front-runner who breaks all of the political rules by calling himself a socialist. Bernie Sanders would’ve had a hard time using that campaign slogan a few election cycles ago.

Now, new is good. New is welcomed with open arms. New is what the people want.

As business owners, there’s a big time lesson wrapped up in this new campaign.

People are exhausted by the old way of communicating.

Politicians are marketing their agendas in the same way you’re marketing your business.

  • They need to stand out from the competition to make a splash. So do you.
  • They need to advertise to get their voices heard. So do you.
  • They need to prove why they’re the best candidate for the job. So do you.

This election, the expert communicators are using their smarts to cut through the typical campaign strategies and stand out.

Love him or hate him, Donald Trump has been quite successful at this so far. He’s bashed women and immigrants and still leads in the polls for Republican candidate.

Trailing very close behind him is Ben Carson. He’s a soft spoken brain surgeon who made some controversial comments about what he’d do in the face of an active shooter and yet, he still holds a close second place position in the polls.

Neither Donald Trump or Ben Carson fit the mold of traditional baby-kissing politicians. Both people have broken away from what a politician is “supposed to” do and say to speak candidly and honestly. For better or for worse, this has pushed both candidates to the top of the polls.

The politicians heard the cries for a shift in communication.

If the cries of the American people for a different type of president are any indication of the direction this country is heading, then business owners must take note. There are communication lessons wrapped into this election.

The same old strategies won’t work today in the same way they used to.

As a writer, I focus specifically on the verbiage being used in these campaigns. Candidates are still jet setting around the country to shake hands with as many people as possible. There are still the traditional debates being held to bring candidates face-to-face so they can go head-to-head on the issues.

But today, things are a little bit different.

More emphasis is being placed on social media analytics. More polling and insights are being taken from search engine results over cold call surveys. All the while, the candidates are dropping the facade of politician and speaking more candidly than ever to get their message across.

For businesses, there’s a big lesson in this.

The politicians are using modern marketing strategies to understand their customer (the voter).

They’re ending the typical political speeches and in turn are pushing boundaries by speaking from a more human perspective.

They’re becoming relatable and conversational.

Has your business shifted to modern marketing?

As a business, you can easily make these same shifts.

Instead of engaging in traditional marketing strategies, break away and try something new.

Research your customers by looking into your Google analytics and social media insights.

Then, talk to your customers in the way they want to be spoken to. Use the same verbiage they use. Drop the jargon and cliches and focus on speaking to your audience in the same way you’d speak to your best friend.

Be. Human.

Whether you love politics or not, and whether you’re a democrat or republican, you can agree – this election cycle is already proving to be quite different. Look for the lesson baked within these differentiations and your business can come out ahead…

… because it’s not about marketing. It’s about getting your tribe to fall madly in love with you.

8 Comments

  • Brighton West

    It will be interesting to watch how this changes from Primary to General Election. Right now the candidates are talking to their base (in marketing, we’d probably call this a niche.) In politics, they need to get 51% of the vote – but in business, we never need to expand beyond our niche.

    And Bernie Sanders defended Hillary at the debates (about her email server) which is totally unheard of in politics!

    • Kimberly Crossland

      Absolutely. Once the primary elections are over, the talking points will most likely change to try to capture the audience outside of their party and niche.

      You’re right about Bernie Sanders defending his opponent! I’d forgotten about that example too. Rules are breaking in this election everywhere you look.

  • Emily

    This is a great premise. And, for this specific example, I agree with Brighton’s comment and am equally curious to see how things develop (while being glad I’m not getting the media bombardment here in Europe).

    The breakaway folks in your example are definitely not afraid of offending those outside their niche. There is an interesting distinction between honestly speaking to your niche vs doing it in such a way that you know you’ll cause controversy and thus attention — one is about serving needs and one is, I think, more driven by self-interest.

    • Kimberly Crossland

      I’ll bet you’re glad to avoid the media commotion, although you have your own political excitement happening in Europe right now too.

      I love your point about honestly speaking and creating controversy for self-serving purposes. It’s a fine line many times (especially in politics) but one the candidates cannot ignore, especially as we move past the primaries.

  • Jo Lynn Deal

    Excellent article, Kimberly! I was talking to my husband about how voters are changing, especially when it comes to voters under 30. The political arena seems to be the last to shift to content marketing. It comes across as fluff with industry terms and empty promises. You are so right, consumers (voters) want proof and real data to back it up. All in all, I still can’t believe Trump is a front runner. But I’m sure many thought that about the ‘actor’ Reagan in the 80s. 🙂

    • Kimberly Crossland

      Exactly. Voters can see through the fluff and get turned off by the old school tactics that used to work both in business and in politics. It’ll be interesting to see if Trump gets the nomination now that he’s been at the top of the polls for so long.

  • Sara Kanwal

    Wow, loved the post Kimberly! I can’t agree more on the “Be Human” as I keep ranting about it in all my marketing sermons (ha!). Plus your article was a breath of fresh air – in all the blabber, it was a delight to come across a literary yet spot on business perspective!

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