Thursday, March 03, 2005

We CAN learn from politicians

What We Can Learn From Bush and Kerry

With 2004 Presidential Campaign now behind us, the nation is still divided on many issues. Republicans and Democrats alike are picking up the pieces from a bitter contest. Regardless of your political affiliation, marketing, sales and business development professionals can learn a lot from these professional politicians.

Know What Success Looks Like

In a political race, those in charge know exactly what success looks like: VICTORY. Too often in our companies we forget why we spend so much time and money on marketing, sales and business development. In our efforts, we should remain focused on the victory of winning the new business. Spending hours completing an RFP or wining and dining potential new clients takes a lot of time and money. Often those chasing the business pay too much attention to the process and not enough on the desired result. Giving the client a trendy brochure or presenting a high tech PowerPoint means nothing if you are the runner up for the business. We should always remain aware of what we are trying to accomplish. Winning the election, or winning a new client, is what really matters.

Identify Your Spokespersons

If you watched any of the election coverage on the cable news networks, almost hourly you would see spokespersons for the candidates. These people are not just random volunteers, but rather they are paid experts on specific policy topics and they have all completed extensive media training. But companies regularly send any executive to give a speech or talk to the media. We should always be sure that we are presenting a professional and experienced image to our local business community. Make sure that you send the right partner or executive to speak at a business event, depending on their area of expertise. Never allow someone to give a speech who is not comfortable in front of an audience. While some people are naturally gifted at giving presentations, most businesspeople could benefit from presentation skills training or from participating in a Toastmasters club. Finally, it should be the policy in your firm that nobody speaks to the media who is not approved to do so, and all executives should go through a media training class.

Stay On Message

Each day in a political campaign the team is issued a set of “Talking Points”. These spell out what the message of the campaign is for that day. When giving speeches, the candidate and their representatives all deliver the same thoughts, policies, and ideas. They work hard not to be moved “off message” by their opponent or the press. Few companies have consistent messages that are understood and verbalized by all the employees in the organization. Different individuals tend to put out their own version of what the company does and where it has expertise. This can be confusing to the business community, and allows competitors to define your image. While your firm will not have daily “Talking Points”, you should annually create a list of important issues that your whole team will consistently reiterating to clients and prospects. If you are painting the positive picture of what your agency is about, nobody else can do it for you.


No matter which candidate you supported for the White House, most people in America agree that George W. Bush scored many points with the electorate because of the speeches given at the Republican National Convention by Arnold Schwartzenegger and Rudy Guliani. These popular, moderate republicans stood before a national television audience and spoke about why they supported the President’s re-election. Having others who are well known and respected sing your praises is one of the most effective tools in marketing. While the “Governator” may not be available to tout the strengths of your agency, you probably have some successful and locally recognizable clients who would be happy to serve as a reference, appear in an ad, or make calls on your behalf to prospective new clients. Being affiliated with those who are respected will help give you more credibility.

The advantage a political campaign manager has over a salesperson is that a campaign has a beginning, middle and an end. Your job kept going after the election ended (I hope!). You must constantly be providing value to your agency and always proving yourself to your constituency (your boss or bosses). However, following some of these examples of the political arena and helping in the efforts to win new business will constantly set you up for “re-election” within your current firm, or “higher office” with another company.

Thom Singer

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