Be Timely

So I’m standing in front of my house this weekend, watching the kids scooter around, when we’re suddenly accosted by various people passing out flyers. One gentleman asked me if he can share some information about a local candidate. I shuffled some papers around so I could grab the brochure. Once I had it, I noticed that another candidate’s flyer was tucked inside. There was no mention of a two-for-one from the guy. I just chuckled and turned away.

As I made my way inside, I looked at the tag-along and noticed that the date stamped on the back was 2006. I get the efficiency, since it was a re-election campaign. In fact, I almost applaud it. There’s only one (major) problem. A lot has changed in the last two years—far too much to just recycle what you’ve already done. By simply reusing your old stuff you are saying one of two things: either you are too out-of-touch to recognize that things have changed, or you haven’t done what you said you were going to do the first time, so you just say it again.

The same goes for any business. A consistent message is key. Beat it like a rented mule, especially if it is good and on target. But also recognize that as you produce, address issues and evolve, you move along and tackle the next set of problems.

I don’t, by any means, advocate that you should craft your message around the latest trends. Doing so would signal that you aren’t committed to who you really are. And if you’re not committed, why should anyone else be? Being timely and consistent with your message reinforces your brand. It shows your audience that you are focused on addressing the needs of your constituents (customers, consumers, employees, etc.).

Constant reinforcement of your message is necessary for solidifying your brand. Incorporating timely needs into that message is critical to building a long-term brand.

Affinity Marketing is a Double-Edged Sword

Running for office is, sadly, a massive marketing campaign, where the candidate is the brand and the election is the final sale. The problem with politics, though, is that there are no refunds and the rules for exchanges are onerous (but not impossible, as California’s former Governor Davis learned).

Affinity marketing, with respect to political campaigns, works better when a respected individual, usually from business or politics, campaigns on behalf of the candidate. It works best when that individual continues to do their “day” job, building their personal reputation and garnering greater respect.

Unfortunately for Sen. Hillary Clinton, her husband has spent too much of his time openly campaigning against Sen. Barack Obama. Let me say that I am a fan of the former President, which is why I am so disappointed.

The way for him to successfully support his wife is by focusing on what she will bring to the office not on the foibles of her opponents. At the same time, he needs to generate more news focusing on his work with humanitarian causes. You can’t buy that kind of affinity anywhere.

President Clinton left office with the highest approval ratings of any president leaving office since World War II. That approval remained high in the years following his departure from the White House because of his continued work.

Now, the Bill Clinton brand represents a smear campaign. And I would imagine that his approval rating over the last couple of months would have dropped. If Sen. Clinton wins the nomination, I hope the former President takes a better approach, building positive affinity for her brand.

Stepping away from politics and looking at marketing in general, ask yourself about what affinities you have. What are those brands/individuals doing to support your brand? What are they doing that could bring it down and diminish its value? What are you going to do about it?

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