Elections, Brands, And Platform Evolution

A day before the election, you are likely in one of two camps: over-stimulated by all the media around the election, or you are questioning why someone you’ve known for so long can think so fundamentally differently than you can about a candidate.  

What’s really interesting about this election period is the evolution of the use of media, advertising, consumer shifts and the sheer diversity in the platform strategies used by candidates. Looking back, Howard Dean was the first real early adopter of social media as a political campaign platform. Obama leveraged a consumer groundswell that activated a voter base and was the first real emergence of the mobile consumer and how media is changing with the consumer’s device immersion.   

It’s some eight years later and technology has evolved.   Marketers, pay very close attention.  This is the new, new.  Advertising, video, social media, streaming, and mobile have all change so drastically from 2008 and even 2012.  Content marketing, native advertising, targeting and the sheer scale of the enabling platforms is spectacular and scary.  

Now, back to the reality of real life and a few things I’d call out that we learned or relearned differently this time around. 

First, let’s just agree, platforms are only as good as your strategy and ability to execute.  Yet a few things that drive this and are important to note include:

The database is still the catalyst, for understanding your customer, targeting them everywhere and what platforms to use to keep them engaged   

Content pays off media spend. Be a content marketing machine. Invest proportionately across these two.  

Frequency and consistency will outperform relevance if reach is your goal. The best message doesn’t win, it’s who’s best at sending it.

Broadcast is about you -- digital is for entrenchment with the brand/cause. Digital engagement helps sell “authenticity” that all brands need to sustain consumer bias and advocacy.  

Influence and advocacy don’t mean the same thing, so invest differently in what you want out of them.

“The Web is a perfect medium for grass roots movements.  There are no barriers to entry.” --  from US News and World Report on Obama's 2008 campaign.

Location and context are important to the audience, and innovations have allowed the small to act big, and big to appear smaller.

Your investment window and use window is perfectly aligned with the depth and sustainability of the platforms you choose.  If broadcast is what you seek, there are email platforms just for that. If you want to experiment in great variation, there are alternatives.

What’s difficult about comparing modern-day elections to any non-Fortune 50 company is, none of these strategies would have worked without hundreds of millions of dollars in budget.   

What we can take away are validations at scale that the platforms perform when used in tandem to the right audiences. We know that content marketing only works well with media budget to propel it. 

We know targeting works, when you can invest in really knowing your audience.  We know if you can streamline, you can react faster and speed will outpace the award-winning ad.   We know the world is diverse and imbalanced in its use of channels  -- and if you aren’t careful, you can lose sight of the present and future markets/platform’s value exchanges.  

What will be your prediction for what's happening in four years?   Virtual Reality? In-product digital engagement experiences? The decay of the “live event and kissing of babies” as the connective tissue?

What I love about this world is, “Just when I think I have learned the way, life changes.” -- Hugh Prather, American self-help writer

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