Iowa Caucuses Reveal Important Marketing Lessons

I’m a marketer, not a political wonk, and by no means do I want to engage in a party/candidate/ideological debate, but Ted Cruz’s win in Iowa points out two very important truths about the election process in this country. And both truisms–as divergent as they may seem on the surface–are also very important, interconnected cogs in today’s brand marketing machine.

Without a doubt today’s political candidates can’t win election without employing two critical marketing tactics as part of their integrated campaign strategy: One is old school and the other relatively new.

The tried-and-true. Super PACS, prime time ads and media coverage aside, any presidential candidate worth his or her weight, must have a well-organized grassroots, precinct-by-precinct get out the message and the voters campaign. Even in our 24/7, omni-channel world, “feet on the street” are of paramount importance. Ground troops, as it were.

Why? Authenticity. When we form our opinions and loyalties, we take in information from myriad sources. We then filter it through other sources we have come to rely upon and trust. Often, those trusted sources are our friends, family, local civic leaders, activists and clergy. During election cycles, these very people may be working in the local office for a given candidate. They become those “feet on the street” and the trusted sources we are likely to give greater weight to as we decide who to vote for.

In the content marketing world, we call that user generated content. Authentic, peer-created content delivers a brand experience we are more likely to connect to and form an affinity with.

The technology factor. During his Iowa campaign, Cruz put a premium on using technology in unison with  his statewide, grassroots campaign.

According to Yahoo News, Cruz in particular invested heavily in technology, empowering his top data and analytics chief, Chris Wilson, to assemble a robust digital targeting effort.

According to Wilson, the Cruz campaign built 167 voter “universes” in the state. The campaign then reached out to these voters through the Internet as well as through traditional channels.

“Early in the primary,” Wilson went on to say, “Cruz made sure I understood we were not going to be outperformed on analytics and digital.”

Technology, in essence, became the air support for the troops on the ground. Digital greatly enhanced the campaign’s ability to quickly and agilely disseminate specific messages to the right constituencies, thereby coalescing support across the state from voters with interest in a particular issue.

In other words, the campaign crafted a data-driven, digital marketing strategy in support of traditional tactics that delivered real ROI, Namely, an Iowa caucus win.

All to say, whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, a brand marketer or an agency executive, the lesson is the same: To gain  support or brand loyalty, you had better have a marketing communication strategy that pays heed to the tried-and-true and embraces the cutting edge.

Imaginuity Staff Contributors: Richard Goodis and Lydia Flores

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