Marketing Tips for Iowa Caucus-Goers

It’s Caucus day. Today America turns its eyes toward Iowa to see how Presidential candidates fare at the political spectacle that we Iowans are kind enough to put on every four years.

Now, before we discuss marketing strategies that can aid you in dominating your respective caucus (which is why you’re reading this tasty little blog post in the first place), let’s review how the caucus process differs between the two parties.

The Republican Caucus

One spokesperson for each candidate delivers a 3-minute speech, and then caucus-goers participate in a straw poll/primary style voting process. In other words, each candidate gets one shot – one Super Bowl commercial – to make a splash and close the deal with undecided voters.lf_2016_caucus_470x250_4bf71f942db63

The Democratic Caucus

This is a more open and public process. Attendees enter an assigned space (a school gymnasium or auditorium perhaps) and effectively cast their vote by standing in the area designated for their candidate of choice. For the most part, these are the brand loyalists who have already decided whose product (that is, which candidate) they will buy.

But there’s almost always undecided shoppers. These folks stand in the middle and look to be sold a candidate by the brand loyalists. In addition, only candidates receiving 15 percent support from all the people in the meeting will be eligible. Therefore, those brand loyalists whose candidate goes out of business will come back on the market as an undecided voter.

Perhaps these candidate shoppers are leaning toward Candidate A, but are also intrigued by Candidate B and would like to learn more about his or her product features (that is, their stance on the issues). The brand loyalist who can most effectively communicate the value of their preferred candidate will typically drive more sales.

So how do you convince undecided caucus-goers to support your candidate?


Packaging Equals Passion

One of the oldest tactics in the book. How do consumers choose between two products that on the surface appear to be equal in quality and price? Packaging. The color and design of a product contributes to its perceived value.

Caucus-goers who wear their candidate’s shirts, buttons and hats communicate how passionate they are about their candidate. Thus, this candidate must really be one to consider. On the other hand, a caucus-goer who arrives in street clothes subtly relates the fact that while they support a particular candidate, they aren’t all that excited about it.

Sell Trust and Safety

What makes a great leader? In his Ted Talk “Why Good Leaders Make You Feel Safe” management theorist Simon Sinek suggests it’s someone who makes people feel secure.

Caucus-goers can talk about the minutiae of policy and where Candidate A stands on this issue or that. But what people really want to be sold is trust and safety. Most people don’t get caught up in the minute details of a product or service. They want to be convinced that the product they buy is the one that is most likely to aid and protect their happiness. Similarly, which candidate can keep my family, job, home and country safe? That’s the message you need to send on caucus night.

Say It, Don’t Spray It

In the era of social media, consumers are attracted to brands that “get them”. Generally speaking, it’s brands that feel authentic because they make people feel like they are talking just to them. To be sure, brands that shout their superiority from the rooftops risk turning people off.

On caucus night, remember people don’t like to be yelled at. Don’t shout your message at all the undecideds, in hopes that your message will resonate with at least one of them. Instead, try to pull them aside one at a time and talk to them about what they want in a candidate, and then tell them why your candidate can best fulfill their needs. Make them feel like you really “get them”.

Follow Up

Brands know that one touch point isn’t likely enough to convince someone to buy their service or product. It takes multiple, consistent touch points, perhaps selling different value propositions.

The same can be said about convincing someone to support your candidate. One interaction won’t likely persuade someone to join your corner, as they will likely want to hear from other candidates’ supporters. So circle back and reconnect with people you have already spoken to, even if they appear to be leaning toward another candidate. Make them feel like their support genuinely matters to you and you don’t care how many conversations it takes to win their support.