Marketing Yourself in an Election: A Primer (Part 2)
Yesterday we discussed a few things that can help a candidate stand out in an election campaign. Today, a few more.
If you are new to the politics scene in your neighborhood, you’ve likely got an uphill battle. You’ve probably got an unknown product (you), up against an established, successful product (the incumbent). Make an impression. Stand out. Be a purple cow.
Social Media: Important, but don’t take on more than you can handle. It is far better to have one active Twitter account then inactive accounts on Twitter, Youtube, Facebook, Pinterest, and whatever else you might want to connect with. Connect is the key word. If you haven’t got time to connect because you have far too many social media channels running, you’re not going to make an impression.
Engage on Social Media: but know when to disengage. Politics can inspire some spirited conversations. Letting yourself get bogged down in a heated debate in a public forum leaves a negative impression. When things do turn negative, or you’re in danger of being mired in minutia, gracefully disengage. Offer a more detailed response via email, telephone, or in person. Be polite.
QR Codes: don’t bother. Once thought of as the Next Big Thing in social media, QR codes really haven’t hit critical mass. Yes, they are different, and do stand out, but how many more people do they help you engage? If the code is on an outdoor sign, thinking people will stop a vehicle to scan your code is not realistic. If it’s on a flyer delivered to the home, isn’t it easier just to list the website? It stands out but does not give you any advantage. Worst of all, if your code leads to a website that is not readable on a mobile screen, you’ve just turned off a potential voter and wasted their time.
Your picture: have one, but not the one you think. You aren’t going to stand out with the usual smiling-into-the-camera head shot; taken, of course, while wearing your best suit and tie. In radio advertising, active verbs cut through the clutter, help get past the gatekeeper and inspire action. Similarly, in visual marketing, action pictures are more compelling than static headshots. Use a picture of you actively engaged in your community. It will stand out, and it will connect.
Your Opponent(s): be nice. Politics can be a rough business. It is not for the thin-skinned. Be the candidate that sticks to the issues, and explains to the voters what you can do for them. Time spent talking negatively about other candidates is time wasted indeed. It’s a negative that sticks to you. Negative campaigning turns off voters. Be the candidate that encourages voting, not the one that sours people on the process. Yes, at a national level, sometimes negative campaigning is used as a tactic. However, all it does is re-energize the “base”, or the people most likely to vote, and it encourages those who are just moderately engaged to not vote at all. At a local, municipal level, going negative is not likely to produce any positive results.
Be different. Don’t do the same things as everyone else. Stand out, and you’ll be noticed.