The 2016 Presidential campaigns are well under way with three primaries and two caucuses down. Now, whether you like it or not, if you’re involved in real estate in any form or fashion, politics play a large role in your business and you ought to be paying attention. How involved in that you’d like to be is up to you, but if you aren’t aware of the ramifications to your business that the policies laid out by the candidates can have, you may end up regretting your lack of attention. That, however, is a topic for another day.
Today, I’d like to take a look (again) at the lessons we can take from a political campaign and apply (or not) to our business. If you think about it, at its base level, a political campaign is nothing more than a very long (too long usually) marketing and sales campaign. Now, it’s a candidate’s dream to run unopposed, but that’s not always the case. If you approach your business as a candidate running unopposed, when you do have an opponent you will be unprepared to deal with it and will likely lose the election. So, here are just a few of the many things you could take away from a political campaign that could very easily translate to your real estate business.
Note: While I am going to use actual examples from actual candidates, none of the info contained herein should be considered a critique of a candidate or an endorsement. Please keep your political comments to yourself. This is a real estate coaching blog read by no fewer than 21 people on a regular basis, not Fox News or the Huffington Post.
If you ask most political consultants, they will tell you that one of the most important things in a campaign is messaging, consistent messaging. Despite the scope of a Presidential campaign and sometimes the mud-slinging that happens, a campaign should be about policies and issues and the candidate who can clearly, concisely, consistently and, more importantly, convincingly communicate those points to the voter (buyer) usually wins. We’ve all seen the “flip-flop” ads accusing one campaign of changing positions based on voter attitude. Your value proposition should not change based on trends.
On the flip side of that, there is such a thing as too much messaging. Seriously though, how many of you have that friend who posts nothing on Facebook but things about their Advocare, Nerium, Plexus, Tupperware, Mary Kay, Seaweed Wrap, or Real Estate business? Being able to clearly communicate your value proposition is critical to your success. Wearing people out with it is, on the other hand, the fastest way to run someone off from being your brand advocate.
From a marketing standpoint, campaigns are generally excellent at using every available resource to distribute their message to the market. From traditional media to P.R., social media to word of mouth, commercials, print ads, video, radio, TV, newspapers, signage, and the list goes on, campaigns will literally use every single medium out there to communicate the messaging of the candidate and build brand awareness. What can you do to maximize your exposure to the public using the resources available to you? What are best modes of communicating your message to your intended audience? On that note…
Knowing Your Audience
So far, on the Republican side of this particular campaign, we’ve seen contests in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. The winner of the Iowa Caucus on the GOP side was Ted Cruz. Cruz did an excellent job of communicating a message to Iowans that fit what they wanted to hear, despite having one particular position that directly opposed the views of many voters. In New Hampshire, on the other hand, a far more liberal state, Donald Trump held firm to more centrist ideals and won overwhelmingly. In both cases, the candidates knew their audience well and communicated the message using every format they could and came away with the win.
Another big difference between the Trump and Cruz campaigns is how they have put together their ground game. Ground game in a campaign refers to the number of people going door-to-door or making phone calls for a candidate. Ted Cruz has been very good about setting up a solid ground game in nearly every state. On the other hand, Donald Trump has eschewed the traditional ground game strategies and relied more on large-scale events and making headlines. Traditional wisdom would tell you that the person with more people working the public will win. In this case, nothing about this election has been traditional. That being said, let’s go with tradition and try to build an army of advocates out there building your brand for you. It is, after all, the cheapest and most profitable way to build your business.
So, here’s where the rubber meets the road in a campaign. A campaign is a zero sum game. In order for one candidate to gain votes, they have to take votes from someone else. The only way to do that is to differentiate themselves from the other candidates in the field. Sometimes that is easy because of significant differences in opinions. Sometimes, however, many of the candidates look and sound a whole lot alike. Being able to effectively differentiate themselves from the others in the field, even if there are few actual differences, is what allows a candidate to take votes from other candidates in order to win. What is the value proposition you need to communicate to differentiate yourself from the other candidates to help a client buy or sell a property? Does your service differentiate you? Your use of technology? Your expertise in a certain niche?
Measurement and Adjustment
Analytics are extremely important in a campaign. Everything is measured. From opinions about immigration and economics to who is most handsome or pretty to, in the case of Bill Clinton, boxers or briefs, everything is analyzed and measured. Anomalies are tracked. Trends are forecasted to account for every possible outcome. Polls are taken regularly and analyzed. Adjustments, based on all of this data and its analysis, are made to ensure that the candidate’s message, appearance, marketing materials, or anything else that isn’t seen as favorable changes. Remember, the goal of the candidate is to earn votes. The goal of the real estate business owner is to earn business. What are you doing in your business to measure and analyze the results of your messaging, marketing and dollars spent doing both? How would you adjust that strategy if it wasn’t working?
Admittedly, the title and timing of this post is not coincidental, but that doesn’t change the lesson. Marketing campaigns are called marketing campaigns for a reason. From the standpoint of a business owner, your ability to look at the campaign in its entirety will allow you to come up with a more comprehensive plan for creating your value proposition and the marketing tied to it. Hey, you never know, you might just get elected in the process.