Election Campaigning and Sales

Posted by David Wallace on November 3, 2020

Today, November 3rd, is Election Day in the U.S. I’ve found it fascinating to watch the campaigns run by President Trump and former Vice President Biden as they’ve accelerated their pace to capture voters. Election campaign are very similar to sales campaigns. The candidates are the products and voters are their customers and prospects. During election season, the Republicans and Democrats are both trying to capture more customers.

So, what are the sales elements of an election campaign?

Markets. In the broadest sense, all voters define the total addressable market. However, each candidate stakes out subsets of the overall market they will target. One subset is the “party base,” the voters (customers) who will vote for the candidate no matter what. Candidates need to market to their party base with a consistent message, much like you market to your customer base. You don’t need to spend a lot of time and resources on them, but you cannot ignore or alienate the base.

In addition, there are the “swing voters” who could be persuaded to vote for either candidate. The swing voters represent incremental sales for each campaign. This is where the campaigns focus most of their resources.

Another market subset in the presidential election is the individual states. In the U.S., the election is really 50 separate elections and each state represents a separate market with its own market size, voters and issues. The campaigns must develop individual strategies to capture as many of the state markets as possible.

Products. In an election campaign, the candidates are the products. The candidates’ positions and policies are their product features. When buying a smartphone, you assess features like screen size, carrier, platform and ease of use. Similarly, when voting for a candidate, you assess their positions on various issues, policies, credibility and character.

Messages. As with product marketing, candidates must craft their message to appeal to the subsets of the overall market. This year the major issues were handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and the economy. Each party had its own message, designed to present its strengths. The Democrats focused on perceived mishandling of the pandemic response by Republicans, which they say resulted in unnecessary spread of disease, economic decline and death. The Republicans focused on restarting and maintaining economic growth while downplaying the risks of the coronavirus. President Trump took this a leap further by completely discounting scientific positions while appealing to voters’ emotions and by creating antagonistic “us versus them” positions. This was a conscious message strategy.

Media. Both campaigns leveraged the traditional sales and marketing media to deliver their messages. These included advertising, social media, campaign stops (customer visits) and public relations.

While your sales efforts may not be as intense or divisive as those we see in presidential campaigning, take note and assess whether your company can benefit from some of their techniques.

Wallace Management Group helps companies drive sales success. We can help you put the plans and tools in place to educate your customers and enable them to reach you when they’re ready to buy.