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Get the Vote: Use Political Marketing Techniques to Power Your Campaigns

by Jean Fleming  |  
October 7, 2008

As I write this, I am monitoring the election feed. It's like unadulterated crack goodness for a political junkie like myself, instantly addictive, a moment-by-moment zeitgeist loop. 

In 140 characters or less, people from all across America are posting their thoughts and sharing links. While I read, I also have my marketer's hat on, and see some fascinating opportunities—and shifting paradigms—for B2B marketers.

Love 'em or hate 'em, politicians are some of the most effective marketers out there. Let's break down how they achieve their ends, and how we marketers can cop their best moves to win the vote—for our products and services.

Create a narrative—and let it go

This year we've heard repeatedly that people need to "get to know" the candidates. Apparently, this no longer simply means understanding where they stand on issues or what their policy proposals are. Rather, it's come to mean creating a narrative.

In this election, we have an experienced war hero "maverick" squaring off against an only-in-America, raised-by-a-single-mother character worthy of Horatio Alger. These narratives provide the emotional hook that candidates need to connect with voters in an age of sound bites and quick hits.

Dropping the narrative is equally important. It's a phase that ends. In this campaign, the financial crisis put the kibosh on the storytelling and refocused attention on the issues at hand. In the marketing realm, emotion and intrigue will get you noticed, but if there isn't steak with that sizzle... customers move on.

Cultivate, cultivate, cultivate

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Jean Fleming is content director at Babcock & Jenkins (, a relationship marketing agency in Portland, Oregon. Reach her at

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  • by Kevin Horne Tue Oct 7, 2008 via web

    Nice commentary. I esp. liked the "call to action" advice. So many (bad) reasons marketers hesitate to ask for something at more, earlier touch points:
    - it's inappropriate, too pushy
    - we can't track it
    - we don't know what to ask for other than the sale
    - etc.
    All these objections can be overcome.

    Again, nicely done.

  • by Brandon Sutton Tue Oct 7, 2008 via web

    Great article Jean! We've been talking about this for a while - the politicians definitely provide excellent examples of marketing tactics and engagement opportunities. I was shocked when I saw the Obama app for the iPhone - talk about really being on the ball! Marketers far and wide can take a page out of this book and apply these principles with their own marketing. I think we are going to see a major shift in how campaigns are handled after this election, because there is no precedent for this kind of engagement in any other historical election. The game has changed, and once again it's time to lead, follow, or get out of the way!

  • by Jean Mon Oct 13, 2008 via web

    Thanks, Kevin, for the comments. Agree that we are sometimes too shy to cultivate--I think the key is having many different messages that line up with a key theme, something the pols are really good at.

    Brand, totally agree that this election will be a watershed in terms of how technology affects the outcome.

  • by aftab Sun Jun 14, 2009 via web

    Scope of Political Marketing Offer political Marketing Services

    Political Marketing is being used and implemented with different names and different shapes since centuries. In 1950 Political Marketing was defined as a separate subject please sees history of Political Marketing for reference and details.

    Still this subject is in developing phase and need to do a lot to formally recognize Political Marketing as separate subject. In my point of view Political Marketing is highly significant in all countries especially in democrat governments and more especially to developed countries. Political Marketing is essential for political parties, leaders, government and as well as for general public. Political Marketing brings stability in political culture of a country that in return brings prosperity in national economy at root and gross level. Without Political Marketing or misuse of Political Marketing it is really intricate to better understand public needs and it is so intricate to create and develop good governance in a society.

    Visit for more details

    To better understand the scope of Political Marketing I would like to quote two examples. 1st for the country where Political Marketing is being implement since many years and in contrast to this the another country where Political culture is not developed yet in parties as well as political leaders are not aware about Political Marketing.

    On 1st hand I will like to quote USA. Where we can see very clear that Americans are implementing Political Marketing since many years in America, before elections the candidates create and develop a philosophy for their election campaign. So they are clear about what they are communicating in their dialogue. At all level their philosophy remains same, their goals, mission and objective does not change, audience to audience and place to place.

    What ever they communicate for coalition parties or public, in New York or in any other state, the theme of their communication at all level remains same because they are well prepared, we can’t find any contradiction in their speeches, it builds harmony and trust in public. As a result we can see that in America normally election forecasting is done before elections by survey and pools and election result proofs those predictions.

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    On other hand I would like to quote an example of a developing country where political culture is not as developed yet. We can see that in Pakistan there is political instability, political leaders in Pakistan are not well aware about the importance of Political Marketing due to lack of knowledge. There is no research, no philosophy and no proper developed campaign. One leader is talking and communicating other things compare to other leader of same party, even we can notice very clearly that same leader is communicating in different way with different theme and objective on different occasions and at different territories. Its due to lack of research, lack of proper philosophy and agenda and without preparation of any centralized campaign. As a result public don’t believe their promises and other parties get advantage of their contradictions, however we can see instability, lack of trust inside party and no clear vision.

    If we summarize all discussion and keep in mind both examples its clear that without research, developed philosophy and centralized political marketing and election campaign and theme it is impossible to build public trust and harmony at national level. we must give a direction to political activities to get good results for a better future.

    For the reason our organization, political marketing services slogan is “VOTE FOR TOMORROW” that describes well all functions of political marketing at all levels, government, political parties, leaders and for public.

    Article written by Mr. Aftab Hussain

  • by Brian Mon May 16, 2011 via web

    A great article!

    We put together a comprehensive list of political campaign marketing techniques that have been used over the years - please vote for the ones you think are the most effective and see what others think -

  • by Phil Weltman Mon Jan 18, 2016 via web

    Great article! Like Kevin said, I liked the "call to action" advice. I find this especially helpful when emailing past contributors, providing a call to action with a a donating ask for 1.2-2 times higher than their previous contribution. Rather than bombarding your supporters with email, personalize the email with relevant information at the right time. Well done!

  • by Jordin Faris Thu Mar 17, 2016 via web

    Social media has become critical when connecting with potential voters - but it has to be done right! Take a look at how one of the presidential candidates is using social media to his advantage.

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