As Seen on TV: What Content Marketers Can Learn from Political Campaigns

As Seen on TV: What Content Marketers Can Learn from Political Campaigns

As election season draws closer, political campaigns offer important content marketing tips

They’re in your mailbox and on your TV. They might even be on your Twitter feed. It’s the one piece of content that is this ubiquitous: political campaigns. Ad spending for the 2020 presidential campaign is expected to approach $10 billion, surpassing the record-setting 2016 campaign. Political ads aren’t going anywhere, and no matter who you choose on Election Day, there’s a lot we can learn from the good, the bad and the ugly strategies in these campaigns to improve our own content marketing. 

Repetition Repetition Repetition

Do you need me to repeat that? One of the more obvious tactics employed by political campaigns is using repetition to drive home their message. Whether that’s showing their advertisements in back-to-back slots or using recurrent images or visuals throughout the campaign, you’ve probably been conditioned to recognize when the ad’s jingle starts to play again. In terms of content marketing, you don’t have to buy up all the advertising spots to get your point across, but repeating your message at the beginning and end of a piece can serve as a helpful reminder about your brand’s message. 

Repeating visuals are also a good strategy. In a political campaign, you might see the American flag in the background of multiple shots to conjure up ideas of patriotism or pride. In fact, this specific image of a boy waving an American flag was used by no fewer than fourteen different campaigns (for different candidates no less!). By using this strategy in content marketing, not only will your audience be more likely to remember your call to action or your message, you’ll also be crafting a more cohesive, unified vision for your brand. 

Fresh is Best

So you might see the same ads for the same candidates over and over again, but if you look closely, you’ll notice that some candidates have multiple, different campaigns. Coming up with fresh material to reflect your brand’s message is another important strategy content marketers can use. In the 2016 presidential campaign, the President’s team tested 5.9 million versions of different ads. With each one, the campaign hoped they would reinforce their message or reach a new audience. By thinking about the new ways you can drive forward your brand, you don’t have to rely on the same old content to get results. In fact, by leveraging new material, you can demonstrate how your message remains relevant and timely — no matter the changing circumstances. 

Spot the Difference

Remember going to the dentist’s office and playing the “spot the difference” game in old waiting room magazines? This “option 1 vs. option 2”  is a classic rhetorical strategy heavily employed by political campaigns. In some advertisements, the entire message is dedicated to explaining how one candidate is different from (and more importantly, better than) whoever is running in opposition. Though we never recommend bashing a competitor, differentiating your offerings is always a valuable idea for content marketers. You can accomplish this with a good conscience by playing up what your brand does well. Even saying something as simple as “efficient” or “creative” can imply that your competition isn’t quite up to par. Like political campaigns, good content marketers know how important it is to position a brand favorably to achieve results. 

Make it Memorable

We’ve seen the politician in his farmer’s hat or the new candidate with her family. These campaigns rely on different psychological appeals to remain memorable in the minds of voters, and content marketers should take note. It’s easy to create videos or content for an audience, but not as easy to remain memorable when we might be seeing 4,000 ads a day. To make sure that your brand message is staying relevant, think about ways you can make your content memorable — this might mean including an emotional appeal (think nostalgia) or maybe a funny anecdote. Whatever it is, it’s important to remember that the messages we remember best have a better chance of leading to tangible action. 

Hit all the Channels 

“Everywhere” is an important idea behind political campaigns. While candidates might want to secure the hometown vote, they’re also interested in changing the minds and votes of people outside of their district, maybe even the whole country. To achieve this, political advertisements can be seen almost everywhere, from Facebook feeds to newspaper ads. If there’s one thing these campaigns do well, it’s making sure they’ve hit all of their important channels. Content marketers should make sure their messages are doing the same. Whether that means putting money behind your tried-and-true social posts or venturing out into the unknown (maybe a blog post is a good way to get a particular message across) it’s important to seek out the appropriate avenues to make sure your brand is getting full coverage. 

Even if you’re already sick of political advertising, remember these campaigns have important strategies they can offer to content marketers, political agendas aside. So when you proudly wear your “I Voted” sticker, take a second to think about these campaign tips that might make your message a winner.

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