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3 marketing lessons we can learn from 2016 White House hopefuls

As we inch closer and closer to the primaries, candidates on both sides of the party line are focusing heavily on their campaign efforts. And while it’s certainly an interesting scene to watch from a political point of view, there are also a handful of valuable business lessons to be extracted from these campaigns – particularly when it comes to marketing.


  1. There’s Power in Numbers

For small business owners and marketers with smaller agencies, simply getting a few hundred social media followers can seem like a big accomplishment. Well, consider the users the presidential frontrunners have attracted and you’ll be amazed.

It should be no surprise that the outspoken Donald Trump is number one in terms of overall social engagement among the candidates. At the time of Adweek’s computations in mid-September, Trump had 20.8 million actions and 8 million followers. Surprisingly, Ben Carson’s impact is second with 15.7 million actions (despite having only 3.3 million followers). Bernie Sanders (9.2 million actions and 1.9 followers) and Hillary Clinton (8.8 million actions and 5.7 million followers) close out the top four.


So, what does all this tell us? Well it clearly shows that there’s power in numbers. When you look at these four candidates - who many would consider the favorites in the 2016 race for the White House - their social media followings are significantly larger than the other candidates. As a takeaway, people can tell a lot about a brand’s influence by looking at their social media following.


  1. Branding is Incredibly Important

In a political campaign, branding is crucial to success. As marketer Chris Lee writes, “A candidate needs a public image their audience can remember them by.” If you’ve spent any time studying the campaigns this year, you’ll notice how true this is.  Trump relies on a brash, in-your-face, contrarian style. Clinton harps on her experience. Carson takes a much more laid back and non-confrontational approach. Sanders tries to grab the public’s attention with revolutionary ideas.  


As a business, you have to think about your brand at all times. Just as the candidates carefully plan what they say and do every step of the way, so should you. You need a public image that your audience can remember. What is it?


  1. Boldness is Underrated

When you look at politicians, it’s hard not to be underwhelmed by their calculations. Politicians like to play it safe and wait for the opposition to make a mistake or fold under pressure. But, if there’s one thing we’ve learned from the campaigning thus far, it’s that being bold is underrated. Trump – and Sanders to an extent – has shown that breaking out of the traditional mold can work.


As a brand, are you being too safe? Are you afraid of taking chances? It’s okay to be bold and point your efforts in a direction that’s contrary to the trajectory of your industry competitors. You never know, it may just work.


Never Stop Learning

As a marketer or business owner, you can’t ever stop learning. Continually be on the lookout for lessons and takeaways – even if they come from unlikely sources. In the case of the upcoming presidential election, there are plenty of lessons to be learned.