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10 Lessons that Politicians Can Learn from Startup Marketing

January 17, 2016

If you are a startup founder, you must be rolling your eyes now: what could politicians with Million Dollar budgets and a team of sharp advisors have to learn from someone like me?

It’s true, you may not have the big budgets to spend or an army of advisors by your side, but as an entrepreneur, you do have assets that no money can buy; intuition, passion and determination. The small budget forces you to get creative and to be smart with your marketing plan – and we can all agree that those assets could help any politician stand out from the rest.

With the clock ticking nervously this week, it may be a bit late, but here are some startup marketing tips they can pickup for themselves:

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1. Solve a big problem

Both politicians and entrepreneurs aim to solve problems. The success of both of them is determined by the problem they choose to solve and how well they manage to solve it. How to choose the problem you wish to solve? Consider these 3 questions:

  • What is the biggest problem right now? There are many problems in the world. You can’t solve them all at once. Choose the one that matters most right now. For example, global warming is a huge problem, but it not something people deal with on a daily basis. Health insurance is, and this is why President Obama chose to tackle this problem.
  • Is the problem relevant for many people? If solving the problem will only help 5% of the target audience, then it’s probably not the right problem to solve first off.
  • Can you solve it? Once you found a big problem that matters to a lot of people right now, consider the resources you have at your disposal: allies, partners, your own experience, skills of your team, etc. and make sure you can actually solve it. your audience

2. Know your audienceHillary_Clinton_vs._Donald_Trump.jpg

Once you know which problem you intend to solve, you need to get close and intimate with your audience. Talk to them, spend time with them, listen to how they talk about the problem and learn about the alternative solutions that they are currently using (or considering to use).

3. Convey a clear story

Politicians are great storytellers. Problem is, sometimes they tell so many stories that it’s hard to remember them all. People’s attention is limited, so don’t overwhelm them with information. Tell them one story that is clear and they will remember you.

4. Set measurable KPIs

Is getting elected the only KPI for your campaign? Think about your long term and short term goals and set clear and measurable KPIs for each.

For the short term, think about increasing support in a specific region or the margin you need to truly win and be able to run your agenda. What is the exact increase you are aiming for? What will get you there and how will you measure it each step of the way?

For the long term: which position are you aiming for post the elections? How are you going to measure your progress towards achieving that goal?

5. Don’t release before you test

Once you know what problem you are going to solve and you have your story and KPIs all set, test your messaging on a small scale. Don’t go on national TV with your story, before you’ve tested it on a local radio show or house gathering with a few dozens potential “buyers”. Bibi would have been wise to do this before comparing “lazy” union workers with defeated Hamas terrorists on national TV.

6. A/B test everything

While you should stick to one concise story, small parts of the story can have many variants and you should A/B test them all to know which variant speaks to the majority of your audience. Sometimes a small change of even one word or even a picture can make a huge difference in the way people perceive you.

7. Get agile and fail fast

Startup marketers have borrowed agile methodology from software developers: it allows us to collaborate effectively and prioritize tasks as well as to adopt quickly to ongoing changes. Maybe it’s time for politicians to become more agile in order to encourage effective collaboration and adopt to constant changes; learn from mistakes quickly, brush down the suit and move on.

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8. Under promise – and over deliver

Promising a lot will bring many users, but won’t make them stay. Only promise to do what you are 100% sure you can deliver, and surprise them with more after they choose you. This is your way to get them truly engaged with your product.

9. Know that it can all change tomorrow

Just like in a startup, in politics everything is dynamic. There are M&As, people quit, competitors rise and fall and you cannot predict everything… or anything. So be ready for the unexpected with a dynamic marketing plan and learn to quickly adopt to any changes in your industry.

10. Marketing never ends

Did Apple ever stop marketing? Has SalesForce decreased its marketing budget after hitting 100,000 users? All big tech companies started as startups, and even though some are now considered marketing leaders, they never stopped marketing. Same goes for politicians – whether you won or lost the elections, you can never afford to stop marketing.


About the Author

Amit Lavi

CEO and Co-founder of Marketing Envy - A B2B tech and startup focused marketing agency based in Tel Aviv. Mentor at Google Campus and Microsoft Accelerator. Facebook and Google Alumni. Part of Google Experts Network

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