A marketing tutorial courtesy of my local municipal elections

by on December 13, 2011

A marketing tutorial courtesy of my local municipal electionsRecently here in Vancouver, we had local municipal elections. And sure enough, my experience researching the candidates and making my decision on who I was going to vote for held some very important marketing lessons that any small business owner can benefit from. Who knew that politicians could help guide us in our online promotions? 🙂

First off, some qualifiers. I don’t have TV. I don’t receive any local newspapers. I’m your classic internet only target market. There’s a lot of us out there. And I think we’re growing stronger and stronger in numbers.

So, in order to find out more about the candidates, I headed online. Here’s what you can learn from my experience…

A website is not an option – it’s a must

You guessed it – several of the candidates did not have websites or any sort of online presence at all. I was positively shell-shocked.

The result? I didn’t vote for them because I had no way of finding out about them. Period. Could I have run out and tried to find a local paper? Yes, but I didn’t have the time for that. I also didn’t have the time to go to any meetings. So the internet was my only recourse.

It blows me away how many small businesses out there still don’t have websites. Think about all the customers that are like me, and that you are alienating by not having an online presence. Even a website on a free platform is better than nothing at all. You need a website for your small business. Period.

You must communicate what’s in it for your target market

So many of the candidates were spewing off a lot if information about themselves.

But they weren’t talking TO me. Telling me what they were going to do for me. Telling me how a vote for them would positively impact my life.

They were talking AT me. Telling me about their experience and accolades. Telling me about their specific plans.

My favourite candidate I came across let me know right off the bat what she stood for and how it would benefit me. The benefits resonated completely with me and my values, so she got my vote without hesitation (and did I ever appreciate not having to sift through tons of info to get to the meat of what she was running for!). Make sure that you answer the most important marketing question in your communications – What’s in it for my customers?

You must communicate what sets you apart

After reading through a bunch of different sites, I started getting confused about who said what and who was who. Why? They all sounded the same. Similar talking points. Similar platforms. Similar initiatives.

Very few candidates explicitly let me know how they were different from everyone else. The ones that did made my decision so much easier.

The hidden power of social media

A handful of the candidates had a social media presence. And you can bet I went and checked them out. Does it surprise you that I decided to vote for a few candidates based on their social profiles?


I was given a little inside look into a more personal side of the candidate. I got a better sense of their values and what they are like as people. And I got this info fast, with a quick glance.

For example, I went to the Facebook page of one candidate and based on what she had posted, I could tell that her and I were kindred spirits and held the same issues close to our hearts. She got my vote.

Did I “like” her page? Nope. She didn’t have any outward indication that her Facebook presence was working, but her presence alone ultimately swayed my decision. So remember not to focus too much on likers, followers, whatever. Your social media profiles are hidden gems, bringing you more than you will ever know.

On to you… have you had similar experiences to mine? Would love to hear your thoughts!

Comments, likes and tweets are always appreciated! Did I mention that I LOVE your feedback?

Image: Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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