In case you haven’t noticed (and who hasn’t with all those political ads) the presidential primary season is swinging into high gear. From debates to caucuses to early state primaries the presidential election seems to be the topic of conversation these days. And more often than not, those talks are dominated by what people think about two candidates in particular: Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump.
No matter where you are on the political spectrum (conservative, liberal, independent, libertarian, etc.) those two presidential aspirants are capturing most of the headlines. At the time of this writing, both are leading in the early voting state polls. And whether you like them or think they are totally nuts, there are actually several things marketers can learn from both candidates.
Here are four lessons from the Sanders and Trump campaigns marketers should implement:
- Communicate what is real and authentic—Most pundits speculate that the reason for Sanders’ and Trump’s popularity is they are themselves. They are who they are. They are also not traditional politicians. Each will say whatever is on their mind. While your marketing messages can’t just say anything, they should be genuine. People today crave authenticity—from their politicians and their brands. Are you delivering that authenticity with your brand?
- Tap into emotion—If you have ever watched a Sanders or Trump speech you know they get fired up and excited. Whether you love them or hate them, you must recognize their passion. Make your marketing emotional. Tell stories and show how your products and services benefit someone rather than just emphasize a boring feature. Are you delivering passion with your brand?
- Remember patience—When both Trump and Sanders entered the race for president, most political pundits scoffed and gave neither any chance. And for the first few months it took each candidate awhile to gain transaction. But they kept communicating their messages; they were patient. And now both are leading their respective party’s polls. It’s the same way with marketing: it takes steady patience and a long-view. Don’t give up after one failed promotion. Stay consistent with your marketing. Are you staying patient with your brand?
- Leverage your brand advocates—Both Trump and Sanders have legions of followers. They each draw crowds not by the hundreds but by the thousands. Then they turn those audiences into raving fans. Each campaign apparently has a strong “ground game” as political experts say. You must search for and then use people who love your products and services. Turn them into cheerleaders for you. It’s much better to have someone else talking about and promoting your organization. Are you using testimonials and advocates with your brand?
Of course, it’s entirely possible that neither Bernie Sanders nor Donald Trump becomes president. But no matter what the eventual outcome, marketers can learn and implement some valuable lessons from each.
“When I hear about a company moving backwards, I get excited.”
—Joey Reiman, CEO of BrightHouse, in the book Grow, by Jim Stengel
Every bank or credit union wants to grow. Grow loans. Grow deposits. Grow checking accounts. That growth focus often means focusing on the future. What strategies and tactics are going to work in the coming months, quarters and years? In fact, future forward momentum is so important, financial institutions even carve out time in their busy calendar to conduct strategic planning sessions on a regular basis. Why? To focus on the future.
But what if one of the best ways to move forward was to look backwards?
The reality is we can learn a great deal about the future by studying the past. In fact, if you want your marketing, branding and strategic planning to improve, then take a look back. Here are four ways to look backwards:
- Study your legacy—This is absolutely critical when building your brand (or when you are rebranding your financial institution). Who founded your credit union or bank and why did they start it? Examining your roots is critical for growth. For example, when we do name changes for our clients we also do a deep dive into their history. You never ditch your legacy, you build on it.
- Study your successes—This is paramount when you want to improve your marketing. “What was the best marketing campaign you ever did?” is a great question to ask. However, a deeper analysis will examine what aspects (terms, creative, message, etc.) of the campaign made it successful. Success is actually a trap because it can lead to complacency. You never over celebrate your successes, you built on them.
- Study your defeats—When playing baseball as a kid there were times when I would muff a pitch and I would want a “do-over.” Do you ever want a “do-over” in your marketing campaigns? In all honesty, I learned more from my mistakes as a marketer than from my successes. For example, I famously made all the tellers wear hardhats during a particular campaign because the hard hats went with the construction theme campaign. After several dirty looks and a botched promotion I learned the valuable lesson of gaining staff buy-in to wacky ideas. You never wallow in defeat, you learn from it.
- Study past companies—This type of analysis (reviewing other organizations) should play a critical role in your strategic planning process. For example, during your next planning session pick out one or two companies that have had monumental strategic failures (Blockbuster) or success (Apple) and ask, “what can we learn from these case studies?” As philosopher George Santayana once famously said, “Those that cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.” You never avoid studying others, you analyze them.
Focusing on the future requires discipline. Just make sure that when you are looking into the future you don’t forget to take a look back.
ROI. Return on investment. It’s a term that makes some marketers cringe. However, to effectively gauge whether your marketing budget is delivering the results executive management needs you must calculate the income you are generating less the expenses your are occurring.
There are multiple ways to calculate ROI. You can use a simple formula, such as net income generated divided by marketing acquisition cost times 100. You can use a sophisticated tool such as Jeanne Murphy’s Profit Maker+Plus. At our website, we even have a few free spreadsheets you can download to help you calculate your promotion’s ROI.
However, analyzing your marketing campaign is more than just plugging numbers into a spreadsheet (although that is important). One effective method to use is the “Plus Delta” approach. It is actually a methodology often used in academic and education circles. It is also used frequently with the Lean Six Sigma business tool.
The “Plus” refers to what went well, while the “Delta” identifies what you would change (the “Delta” is triangle (∆). With “Plus Delta” you remove the evaluation concept away from what we did right and what we did wrong to more of a positive approach focused on what you would change moving forward. It does you no good to make a list of things that went bad in a marketing campaign. Simply doing that can make you feel like a failure. Rather by using the “delta” column you immediately focus on ways to improve.
Here is how the “Plus Delta” tool would work after a marketing campaign or promotion. You simply draw two columns on a single page. At the top of one column write the word “Plus.” At the top of the second column write the word “Delta.” Then brainstorm (ideally with others from your organization) what worked well during the campaign and what you would do next time to improve.
If you want to take “Plus Delta” to the next level (and I recommend you do), then you can use a technique developed by GoLeanSixSigma called the Plus Delta plus Who/What/When. With this method, you take the Deltas (what you would improve) and assign a person responsible (who) for getting that delta completed, an action step (what) for what will be completed and a timeline (when) for the deltas deadline. Adding this next layer to the Plus Delta takes the analysis beyond an academic exercise: it forces you to improve your marketing.
When it comes to analyzing your marketing campaigns you have tons of data at your disposal. However, too much data can result in analysis by paralysis. If you want to complete more than a simple number crunching analysis—if you want to take action to learn and grow from your analysis—then use the Plus Delta plus Who/What/When approach.
I love the movies. Action adventure. Drama. Science Fiction. Living in a house of girls I also see my fair share of romantic comedies and chick flicks. I get to the movies early just so I can see the previews.
There actually is a great deal marketers can learn from watching movies. Movies (at least the good ones) tell powerful stories—which is what effective marketing is all about.
In addition to stories you can also learn (and use) some famous movie quotes if you are a marketer. In fact, there are several lines from certain movies you can use when you are in those planning meetings or budget discussions. Just whip out one of the phrases below and see how your colleagues respond.
Here are five movie quotes every marketer should memorize.
- “I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse.”
You always score points when quoting from The Godfather. But there actually is a key marketing principle from Don Corleone you should use with all your promotions. Be sure your campaigns include an offer consumers can’t refuse. Make your products and services so compelling that they immediately see the value in your offer.
Do you need a bigger marketing budget to accomplish your growth goals? Then whip out your best Rod Tidwell moves from Jerry Maguire and simply say in that budget meeting, “show me the money!” In all seriousness, the best way to build a budget is to use the task approach: match your budget to the organization’s overall tasks it wants to accomplish. Link the budget with goals and then you’ll get the money.
- “You can’t handle the truth.”
You have to use your best Jack Nicholson impersonation when using this line from A Few Good Men. There are times in marketing when you are delivering some unpleasant information to executives (your brand awareness is low, employees are not engaged with your brand, etc.). So if they push back on the facts just remind them how important the truth is (even if it hurts). And if they challenge you about the important role of marketing, then use another quote from the same movie: “You need me on that wall.”
- “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.”
Many times failure in marketing is a result in a failure to communicate. This line from Cool Hand Luke is a positive one to reference. Examine all your marketing pieces: are they crystal clear or will they result in clouded communication? Think also about your staff: have you clearly communicated your brand to your employees? If your team does not fully understand your marketing messages, then you will have a failure to communicate that message to a broader audience.
- “There’s no place like home.”
How can a list of movie quotes not include something from The Wizard of Oz? Your marketing must connect on an emotional level with consumers. Branding is not about your products and services: it’s about how you make consumers feel. Your branding—just like being home—needs that emotional connection. Use this quote from Dorothy to remind you to build a brand around feelings.
Hopefully when it comes to your marketing you can now quote from Star Wars, “May the Force be with you,” rather than quote from Gone with Wind, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.”
Does your financial institution have a vision statement? Is that vision statement so convoluted with jargon that you don’t really know what it means? You are not alone. In my experience, few people in any organization know that organization’s vision statement, and even fewer actually care. That is a sign that your vision statement needs a makeover.
Vision statements have an important role in the life of a company. According to missionvisionstatement.com, enterprises using mission statements and vision statements successfully outperform those that do not by more than six to one. They set the tone for where the company wants to go and what it hopes to accomplish. They aren’t just decorations on the wall (at least they shouldn’t be). They are supposed to inspire employees and guide leadership decisions. That can’t happen if nobody can understand them.
If this describes your financial institution’s vision statement, I challenge you to try revamping it in six words or less. This concept is known as thinking in business card or billboard format. The idea is that anything longer than six words won’t fit on a business card or be legible on a billboard. It forces you to get to the meat of what your financial institution is about without all the fluff. In fact, your vision statement should answer the question, “What are we about?”
Is it really possible to do this in six words?
Read the rest of the article in the December issue of On the Mark, my monthly e-newsletter. You’ll find examples of some very successful companies whose vision statements contain fewer than six words.
Also, in the e-newsletter, find three tips for setting goals you’ll actually achieve. This is the time of year when many of us make resolutions and fail to follow through with them. This year, resolve to set achievable goals instead.