Marketing Lessons from the Campaign Trail


I’m addicted to the 2008 presidential campaign. My nightly viewing habits over the past few months have centered on switching back and forth between CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News to find out what the political pundits have to say about the election, the candidates, and what will happen next. I know, it’s ridiculous. I don’t feel too bad because surely, I’m not the only one with this addiction!

I ran across an interesting article on Time Magazine’s website entitled, “The Five Mistakes Clinton Made.” The journalist, Karen Tumulty, shared what in her estimation were the key mishaps that Sen. Clinton made during her campaign. Out of the five, here are a few that stood out to me:

  1. She misjudged the mood: didn’t understand that voters wanted to hear a “change” message instead of “experience.”
  2. She didn’t master the rules: picked people for her team out of loyalty instead of relying on who were the best strategists.
  3. She relied on old money: failed to incorporate the new model of online fundraising early enough in her campaign.

Politics aside, I thought that there were several key marketing lessons to learn from the article:

  1. Develop a clear, consistent message for your marketing and public relations campaigns. It’s a good idea to develop your message based on research. Don’t be hesitant to fine-tune the message if necessary in order to reach your goal.
  2. Put people on your team who can help you accomplish your goals. Go against the grain and pull from departments outside of marketing/PR when planning your strategies. Great ideas come in all shapes and sizes.
  3. Technology rules. Cell phones, video, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and countless other technologies have changed how we communicate with each other. Make it a goal to investigate which one will help you reach your business goals and incorporate them into your marketing/PR strategy.

I’m sure that there are countless other marketing/PR lessons that we can learn from the election. What are a few that stand out for you?

About Kristina Hill

An expert in marketing communications, Kristina Hill provides integrated marketing consulting services to small and mid-sized businesses through MarComm Creative Group, LLC. The business offers an array of services, including: public relations and media relations; media planning and placement; integrated marketing plan development and execution; and article, website, advertising, editorial, and sponsorship writing.

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4 Responses to “Marketing Lessons from the Campaign Trail”

  1. Paulette Says:

    I think pesonal image is also important for the candidates.

    The way in which H. Clinton “put her self across” at the beginning of her campaign is a much different image from the person she currently appears to be.

    Her PR team was right in helping her soften her image by making her appear more relaxed (she used to be very stiff) and compassionate.

  2. John Easton Says:


    Great comment…I personally believe that a big part of Obama’s success to date (especially fund raising success) is the result of his long tail marketing strategy to solicit and enable millions of individuals to contribute one dollar vs. focusing on single, million dollar donations.

    Further his team leverage web 2.0 technologies through his web site to enable individuals around the country to set up their own Obama pods where they can organize campaign events, raise money locally, create their own blog space (owning the campaign keywords and discussion), etc. As that little gnome in those commercials says, brilliant!


  3. The Right Idea, The Right Time « The Eastonsweb Multimedia Blog Says:

    […] Marketing Lessons from the Campaign Trail […]

  4. Kristina Says:


    You both make very valid points. I think it’s safe to say that this election has forever changed the way all politicians market to their target constituencies. I’m sure that there will be more marketing lessons from the campaign trail as we enter the general election.

    Thanks for sharing,

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