Wisdom from the Campaign Trail: 8 Things Your Business Can Learn From Political Candidates
Political campaigns may conjure images of deceit, trickery, and underhandedness, especially when we imagine a House-of-Cards style election.
But, the truth is, political campaigns are all about promoting the image and message of the political candidate as effectively as possible.
When running a business, there are plenty of good (and bad) takeaways we can learn from political campaigns that can be used in everyday businesses. Below, let’s take a closer look at how your business can win big by emulating political techniques.
Keep it Simple
As a politician, you have a message and brand to share with a large population. A convoluted or complicated message runs the risk of being misinterpreted, twisted, or falsified.
When sharing a political position or message with the public, simple is best. This same practice can be applied to running a business and branding your products. Keep the brand and image simple. This way, your message can reach a wider audience, uninterrupted.
Know Your Base
Politicians understand where their support comes from, and they play to their base. This is where the majority of their support will come from, so it is important to cater a campaign to the majority of supporters. This same principle is true for your business.
Understand your audience — aka, your all-important customer base — and make sure you offer them the best experience possible. Tailor your marketing, branding, and products to the group of people most likely to use your products and services.
It seems that when politicians are in the middle of a political campaign, every word, public appearance, and movement is under a microscope. A negative image of a politician can completely destroy an otherwise successful campaign. Owning and running your own business is no different. You’re the face of the company, so be sure to convey an image you want others to see.
Be genuine and caring — and be honest with people. Exude an image for your brand that people like and trust. Being dishonest, sneaky, or uncaring can send the wrong message to prospective customers, and cost you business. Maintaining a reputation and image in business can be challenging, but repairing a destroyed image or reputation can be just about impossible.
The old saying, “fortune favors the bold” cannot be truer for political campaigns and businesses alike. When running a campaign, putting your opinion and stance out in the open can be scary.
What if people don’t agree with you? Those same scary feelings can be felt when starting a new business. Putting new products or services out in the world can be intimidating, especially with the economy we have today. It takes a giant first step to self-promote and introduce a new product or service. If you are brave, bold, and trust your business, though, fortune is likely to follow.
Stay Light and Mobile
Politicians beat the pavement and are constantly on the go, sometimes hitting 2 or 3 cities in a day. Their schedule is packed full of PR opportunities, speeches, and visits, so staying light and mobile is pivotal to their success. Businesses also necessitate a great deal of information, planning, and documentation that can easily start to weigh down operations.
Try to digitize as much as possible to keep your business nimble. For example, utilizing cloud storage is an excellent way to keep your company information in one secure place, easily accessible from anywhere by yourself and other authorized users.
Work Your Butt Off …
Moving from city to city as a politician isn’t easy — but then add in the fact that politicians must constantly stay aware of world events and what their opponents are doing. Politicians are constantly moving and working. Owning your own business is exactly the same. Not only do you need to work to keep your own business afloat, but you must stay up to date on industry trends, and always be aware of what your competitors are doing.
To be a successful business owner takes dedication and an unprecedented work ethic.
… And Don’t Stop
But just because a candidate wins an election does not mean the work gets to stop; some might say the work has only just begun.
Now it’s up to the elected official to fulfill his or her political appointment, continue to please their own base, work to win over the constituents who did not vote for them, and then continue to worry about the next election. The work never ends.
The same is true for a business owner. While daily operations continue in order to maintain the bottom line, you also must constantly be creative to market your products to new customers, keep an eye open on the competition, and somehow find the hours to do everything. Owning a business is a continuous push that requires constant work.
Choose Your Battleground
Often, politicians will find an area that has several constituents who align with his or her beliefs. They understand how to utilize their base to help promote their image or brand. Running a business is no different.
Choose your HQ wisely, as cities give owners an opportunity to save money, promote their brand, or increase their customer base. Trending cities like Phoenix offer lower-than-average cost of living, as well as beautiful weather and plenty to do. Choosing a home base for your company can not only help you as the owner, but can help entice potential employees, as well.
Although it doesn’t always bring out the best in people, politics doesn’t have to be an eternal example of what not to do. Many of the lessons from the campaign trail can translate easily into common-sense business approaches, as well. Look at some of the most successful candidates’ campaigns and learn a thing or two, then apply them for a prosperous business model.