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5 Lessons Online Entrepreneurs can Learn From Political Campaigns

Frank Jackson, 07/07/2016,

The 2016 Presidential election is in its rapidly heating up stage, and regardless of your political affiliation, taking a step back to see why certain campaigns have been successful is a great way to mine some ideas for growing your ecommerce business.

Politics and business share alot in common. Politicians go after votes and donations the same way you are searching for followers and sales. Here are some examples of political success (and failure) that you can learn from.

Form a Unique Brand Identity

It all starts with you. Who are you, and what do you stand for? That has to be crystal clear to your audience. The best politicians identify a gap in the conversation and put together a plan to lead the dialouge.

In the 2000 election, George W. Bush branded himself as a “compassionate conservative” as an antithesis to older, stodgier ideals within the Republican party. The New Yorker wrote, “The term was brilliantly vague – liberals heard it as ‘I’m not all that conservative and conservatives heard it as ‘I’m deeply religious.’”

It’s all about the image you put forward. Whether it’s George Washington standing defiantly while crossing the Delaware, or Teddy Roosevelt rallying around his “Bull Moose” persona, the more bold, authentic, and concise your personal brand is, the more easily you’ll attract those you’re meant to work with.

Become a Master Listener

Close listening tools teach your about your customer

Bill Clinton may have won the 1992 Presidential election by uttering just 4 simples words – “I feel your pain.” As he was saying it, his debate opponent George H.W. Bush was caught looking down restlessly at his watch. Fair or not, that moment painted a core difference between the two candidates. One was in tune with his audience, and one was not interested in giving time to listen to the needs of the audience.

For politicians, listening means polling, focus groups, town halls and other public events. The most successful politicians keep their finger on the pulse of the voters and take into account what they are saying and what they desire.

For startups and small businesses, this means paying attention to customer requests, chatter on social media, surveys and market research. Watch how customers interact with your business, make it simple for them to give you feedback, and take their input seriously.

Hustle Relentlessly

Graphs of all types

“If you build it they will come” is a fantasy from a movie. If you want real results, you have to be prepared to exhaust every angle, every idea, and every lead. Business like politics, requires constant and active marketing.

Barack Obama took guerrilla marketing tactics to a whole new level, earning him the tongue-in-cheek nickname “Campaigner-in-Chief.” His 2012 re-election run featured more than 125 million personal phone calls to voters, 1.7 million new voters registered, 700,000 canvassing shifts and 5,100 local “hubs” designed to maximize every last ounce of traditional Democrat advantage in early voting.

Entrepreneurs can leverage many of the same techniques politicians use to increase awareness, build brand loyalty, and keep themselves the the mind of their audience, marketing through social media, email and whatever other outreach tactics you can think of.

Inspire Through Storytelling

Your words are your ecommerce weapons

Ronald Reagan earned his nickname “The Great Communicator.” As a man who came from the world of film and theater he had a level of emotional intelligence that connected with the average citizen.

One of his favorite targets was with communism. He highlighted its ills in a speech once with this anecdote, saying, “It is said that Castro was making a speech to a large assembly. And he was going on at great length and then a voice out in the crowd said, ‘peanuts, popcorn, crackerjacks.’ and he went on speaking and again the voice said, ‘peanuts, popcorn, crackerjacks. And about the fourth time this happened, he stopped in his regular speech and then Castro said, ‘the next time, I’m going to find out who that is and kick him all the way to Miami.’ And everybody in the crowd said, ‘peanuts, popcorn, crackerjacks.’”

His stories often had a horse-and-buggy feel to them: anecdotes about farmers, preachers, small-town America. But the payoff usually carried a political wallop. If you can’t talk to people in human terms they can relate to, people will stay away. Storytelling is the key to making voters – or customers – feel passionate and want to promote your brand for you.

Have Yuuuge Confidence

You knew we couldn’t write a political piece without mentioning the force that is The Donald. Love him or hate him, no one can ignore the fact he pretty much slam dunked his way to the 2016 Republican nomination.

Trump is never shy about telling you how rich he is, all the while lauding the praises of his own greatness. And though his style is extreme, having confidence in your ability as a business owner is an vital quality to possess.

People are naturally drawn to confidence, so make sure you are always presenting your image and messaging in a way that identifies you as a thought-leader in your industry. If you’re not exhibiting absolute confidence and belief in your own product or service, frankly, no one else will.

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