As I write this, I am monitoring the twitter.com 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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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jean Fleming is content director at Babcock & Jenkins (www.bnj.com), a relationship marketing agency in Portland, Oregon. Reach her at jeanf@bnj.com.