Advertisers Can Learn from Political Marketers

Advertisers Can Learn from Political Marketers

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Political advertising can be viewed as the north star for B2B and B2C marketers. In politics, voter outreach and paid advertising campaigns are building towards the ultimate one-day sale event – Election Day.  From crafting campaigns around tentpole events and timely big moments, to planning ahead from a budgeting perspective, political marketers know how to make strategic decisions, stay flexible and nimble when racing to headlines and fundraising opportunities, and prioritize hyper personalization to find their target voters where they are.

The strategies and insights non-political advertisers can take (and apply) from their political marketing counterparts include building the right team and using the right tools, prioritizing agility and flexibility, and activating against the importance of hyper-personalization – down to every single individual.

The Beginning

Political ad spending is projected to break records in the 2024 election cycle, eclipsing $10 billion in what would amount to the most expensive two years in political history. The $10.2 billion projection would be a 13% increase over the $9 billion spent in 2020. But understanding where and how to spend is crucial. Especially as political organizations ramp up teams and marketing infrastructures every cycle, hiring talent and experience helps to quickly move through the nuances of deploying political advertising campaigns.

For B2B and B2C marketers, the same concept should be applied. They need to stay on top of the evolving world of talent and technology for their brand/agency, in order to stay competitive. Marketers should consider how to assemble and build a baseline organization. Think about how much of the operations should be kept in-house, vs. having an extended partner that acts as the arms and legs of the process or as strategic partners. Outside partners can bring knowledge and insights that your organization might not have.

For both B2B/B2C and political marketers, experience matters. The right talent with the right experience powers the engine that helps execute. It also provides a solid foundation on which to build upon.

In it to Win it – The Middle Stages

Personalization isn’t new for marketers. In fact, it’s one that goes hand in hand with many strategies. In political marketing, personalization is hyper-focused on the single individual – one vote can sway an election.

The “where” is as important in political advertising as anything, as all political advertising is local advertising. Local races and local issues drive voters to the polls, and campaigns rely heavily on voter history and habits to drive media strategy.

For B2B/B2C, consider where your consumers are in their consideration and purchasing journey and how they are most engaged with your content. Starting with a storytelling element, such as CTV advertising, can create that familiar TV-like experience at the household level (and TV-like benefits), but with the added bonus of digital targeting capabilities and access to audiences that have either supplemented or replaced their linear viewing hours with digital media. Storytelling through CTV can then be used in tandem with higher frequency mobile tactics to capture consumers while they are on the go. Using mobile and hyper-local ads (not necessarily CTV) to capture attention for shoppers on-the-go, at their location at key moments will further engage potential buyers.

Beyond local, political marketers are also adept at national visibility because of their fundraising work to reach people all over the country. As B2B/B2C marketers try to drive attention from localized shoppers, audiences with the same characteristics are reachable wherever they are, from local to regional.

Tentpole Events are the Gold Medal During Election Cycles

The Paris 2024 Olympics and Paralympic games are quickly approaching, as we are constantly reminded by NBC, who has already sold all of its advertising inventory for its live coverage of the Opening Ceremony and for halftime slots during other events. One of the largest tentpole events for brands and retailers, the Olympics and Paralympics are steadfast examples of tentpole events that advertisers flock to because of the huge audiences.

Tentpole events are scheduled moments that marketers can design strategy on and build towards. Political marketers do this with primaries, debates, conventions, and election day. For B2B and B2C marketers, this can be anything from the holidays, back-to-school season, major sporting events, and many more.

For all marketers, tentpole events act as significant moments-in-time, providing a captive and engaged audience. Understanding how to leverage these moments are crucial, especially when deciding when to smartly deploy campaign budgets.

Message Agility During Viral Moments

While most tentpole events can be accounted for, it’s the viral moments that augment these big moments for marketers. Like the slap heard across the world during the Oscars or Oreo’s infamous “You can still dunk in the dark” campaign during the 2013 Super Bowl. For politicians, those moments are reactive to opponents, new polling data, or current events. More than ever, marketers on both sides need to embrace speed and flexibility of message deployment. Creative strategy is no longer about setting and forgetting campaigns. It’s about seeing a moment in time, and within 24 hours or so, jumping on it quickly.

Brands and creative teams need to be tightly aligned with other aspects of the marketing team to quickly act upon the moment and release something in the market accordingly. These opportunities show the value of a baseline marketing structure with an experienced team in order to move quickly. There’s a reason you must start with a solid foundation and structure – especially during these moments.

Off to the Races

At the center of political advertising is persuading undecided voters to support your issue or your candidates. Powerful storytelling, like strong political ads, and frequency of messaging are crucial to swaying voters and building support to ultimately win elections. A powerful ad is memorable and evokes emotion, yet needs to be timely and current with the news cycle.

For B2B/B2C marketers, the focus should be on knowing who to focus time and budgets on. Instead of focusing on “brand nevers,” (people who are least likely to purchase your brand), focus on brand switchers – the consumers in the consideration phase of the buying journey who aren’t loyal to a specific brand or product. These are the shoppers who are not a brand never nor a brand loyalist, but have considered purchasing your products, as well as your competitors, before.

Whether it’s every two to four years for a political election cycle, or a different period for other marketing campaigns, understanding how to best target and connect with core audiences are crucial. When presented with captive audiences, it’s important to understand how to speak to them in the right way. Understanding the consumer behavior and acting accordingly will go far. Remember, just like political candidates, it always comes down to the end user and their behavior.

Jaime Vasil is a Group Vice President at Basis Technologies. Basis Technologies provides unified software and services to simplify and automate digital media operations, and drive increased profitability and greater efficiency for marketing organizations.
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