Marketing Insights From The General Election For Small Businesses

A small business owner analysing the effects of the election on his business and marketing.

Political campaigning and business marketing are two different beasts. However, the marketing strategies used by candidates and parties during a general election can provide valuable insights for small businesses, and general elections also sometimes act as a testing ground for new marketing channels and technologies.


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A good example of this – from the USA – is how the Barrack Obama election campaigns of 2008 and 2012 accelerated the adoption of social media marketing and YouTube by businesses around the world, making a fringe technology suddenly more acceptable to mainstream enterprises.

Campaigning Versus Marketing: The Differences

The surface similarities between campaigning and marketing (political campaigning seeks to ‘drive votes’, while marketing seeks to ‘drive sales’) mask some important differences. The main difference is that political campaigning is issue-based and value-based, with an emphasis on emotionally charged messaging. Business marketing, on the other hand, generally focuses on the benefits, value, and features of a product or service, emphasising a value proposition or solution to a customer’s problems.

Politics is also a largely ‘grassroots’ affair, with campaigns focused on building street level personal support for various issues and candidates. Modern business marketing is less overt, taking place largely online and in a less intrusive way – personal endorsements are less important than sales and relationships.

So, what can businesses take away from political campaigning? Are there any lessons or tactics that could enhance your marketing campaigns?

The Power Of Messages

General election campaigns bring home the value of clear and compelling messages to resonate with voters/customers on an emotional level. All the parties use strong and concise messages to summarise what they stand for and to maximise memorability. Unlike many marketing strap lines, most political messages are ready made memes, hashtags, and slogans. They make your elevator pitch sound like a novel.

For example, the Conservative party’s campaign messages are usually condensed to stability and economic growth. Their 2024 slogan is “Clear plan, bold action, secure future”, while the concise message of the 2019 election was a simple “Get Brexit done.”

Tip: some business USPs can be distilled into a few words, while others can’t. The important takeaway is to think about developing a set of core brand messages that clearly communicates what makes your businesses unique, and why your customers should choose you. This message should then be used consistently across all your marketing channels.

Grassroots Engagement

Direct engagement with the public, whether in person or through social media, is one of the hallmarks of political campaigning. The Liberal Democrats, for example, often engage in town hall meetings and local community events to encourage direct interaction with voters, and the Labour Party are strong advocates of social media – especially Twitter/X – as a channel for engaging younger voters by encouraging shares and making use of hashtags.

Grassroots engagement doesn’t play as prominent a role in business marketing, but there are still useful crossovers to explore.

Tip: the digital first economy has not replaced direct engagement. There is still a place in B2B and B2C marketing for events, workshops, and even Q&A sessions to connect with your customer base. These can be held in person, but are just as effective when hosted through a digital channel, such as Facebook Live. Ad hoc video content created through a platform like Vidyard is another good way of putting a human face to your business and engaging with your customers directly on a personal and emotional level.

Data-Driven Campaigning

Modern elections are increasingly driven by data, and some of the customer profiling strategies now used in digital marketing – such as Ideal Customer Profiles and Buyer Personas – have their origin in voter profiles for general elections. You may remember “Pebbledash People” and “The Wristband Generation” from the 2005 General Election, or the “Motorway Man” from 2010?!

Tip: Data is as important to political campaigners in 2024 it was back then, and there is a clear crossover with marketing. By using behavioural and demographic data to understand the concerns and motivations of your target buyers, you can personalise your content to resonate more strongly with specific segments. This is a strategy used by the Green Party to tailor their climate change messages to regional issues and can also be used by businesses to strengthen engagement in target localities, and increase uptake for particular products and services.

Next Steps

To find out more about digital marketing and how it can support and grow your business, please contact JDR today by clicking here.

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