15 / September 2016, 1st In SEO
If you listen to politicians talk leading up to an election, you might find it exhausting. On the other hand, it also represents an opportunity to see content marketing in action. The candidates, whether running on the state or national level, have to use a variety of tactics to spread their campaign messages to a broad, diverse audience. And with every word recorded and quoted online, the penalty for missteps along the way are severe. Each candidate must rely on disciplined messaging to keep his or her ideas consistent, current, and available for public consumption.
In short, political candidates engage in content marketing. They need to produce information that keeps the public informed and remains in keeping with the image they want to project for that public. Watching the way that candidates perform can yield useful insight into your online marketing campaign.
One critical aspect for any political campaign is building the platform of ideas from which all discussions begin. This requires initial planning, and the ability to provide just enough detail to flesh out the platform used. A core set of ideas comes from the political party and from the candidate’s campaign team, all with the purpose of focusing campaign rhetoric in policy-based directions. This creates consistent messaging that can build power over time, and ideally drive the candidate toward success at the polls.
A part of this exercise is moving beyond just what you talk about, and finding the right ways to talk about it. The concept of framing refers to shaping your discussion in the ways that are most advantageous to you. For politicians, this includes using the most positive terms for themselves and their ideas, and finding negative terminology for their opponents. The words and the concepts you present do not exist in a vacuum. Rather, they gain meaning based on the context you use, so their import depends on how you present them.
The lesson for content marketing here: your words matter, but only create impact based on how you employ them. The politician’s platform serves the function of your website and social media presence. When you establish your online presence, do so in a way that sets you up with your branding and the concepts and identity you wish to present to your potential customers. This gives you a base that can help direct your content and keep it focused where you need it. From here, you use keywords in the context of rich, well-written content, giving your ideas the framing they need to have maximum impact. Using the right words matters, but using them in ways that excite people, for the politician or the content marketer, makes all the difference.
One constant peril politicians face is being directed off of their messaging. In debates, some candidates thrive on a strategy of moving their opponents into areas that depart from what they want to discuss. Donald Trump, in the Republican Primary debates, did this very well, distracting and diverting many of his opponents from the topics they wanted to discuss. Bernie Sanders on the Democratic side, on the other hand, could not be moved from his economic equality points, no matter what strategy anyone might employ.
The effect of staying on point for a politician is twofold. First, it helps ensure every speaking opportunity creates the same information for listeners. The impression everyone gets will be based on similar data, thus allowing a wider distribution of the information among voters. Second, it builds trust that the person means what she or he says. Every campaign involves claims of hypocrisy, suggestions that one candidate is not who he or she claims to be. Staying on point helps avoid this kind of argument, and builds trust in the person who keeps saying similar things.
The content marketing plan should similarly build on consistency and repetition. New ways to present ideas help, and finding nuances in the presentation itself helps keep the message fresh. But when you try to move in too many directions, it diffuses your impact and prevents you from delivering any single, strong message. No singular identity emerges from the content you create, leaving you vulnerable to losing market share to those delivering stronger content in a single direction.
Further, gaining the confidence and trust of your potential customers should be paramount. You can get attention by moving in different directions, but consistency creates both the familiarity and the trust that you need to build in others a confidence in your ability to deliver. The more you stay on point, the more you can generate a loyal audience and customer base. This gives you something steady on which you can rely over time as you continue building your online marketing presence.
Many politicians have learned the problems that arise when you rely on polling that may or may not translate into actual votes. You cannot assume that the people who say they prefer you will show up and act according to the initial interest they have shown. You must instead follow through and keep people focused and working with you. Some connection that leaves them invested in you leads to victory; lack that, and you end up thinking about all the interest and excitement you generated before someone else wins the position.
In content marketing terms, this is the difference between online traffic and conversions. You can get all the page views you want, but you must keep going and give potential customers a reason not only to click, but to purchase. Your conversion rate comes from connecting and holding on to the people whose interest you initially attract. This is the measure of success in your content marketing plan: gaining conversions that ultimately increase your bottom line.
Like politics, content marketing lends itself to gamesmanship. Gaining trust and building actual results for your company depends on doing more, on demonstrating value for your customers. If you focus on what they really want and need, you set yourself up for success on which you can continue to build.