What your content marketing can learn from Brexit and the US election

At the start of 2016, we didn’t know that the UK would vote to leave the European Union and the US would vote Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton as their new president. But it’s happened, despite these two causes apparently being the rank outsiders. So what can your content marketing learn from their campaign techniques?

The promise

When you start a campaign, your promise is central to your advertising. With the US election and the EU Referendum, this is the slogan – the chief message. It’s not only what you’re promising your ‘customer’ (or voter), it’s your lead benefit, your call to action, and if you want to know how to construct an effective call to action simply look at these two examples:

  • ‘Make America great again’ (Trump)

  • ‘Take back control’ (Leave campaign)

These slogans worked because they’re full of active, passionate, emotive language. They include the reader and they tell the reader to do something. ‘Hillary for America’, ‘Stronger together’ (Hillary Clinton) and ‘Stronger in’ (Remain) try for the same inclusivity but they just don’t have the driving will.

It’s easier to fight for change

This brings us onto the fact that it’s easier when you’re the underdog – that’s the same whether you’re a football team, a political party or a small business. You might think you’re on the losing side, but if you have the character and the initiative, you’re in luck – people’s innate instinct is to stick up for the little guy (as far as we can reasonably believe that a billionaire counts as a little guy).

Fighting for change, as opposed to preserving the status quo, has a fierce rebellious side that appeals to people’s latent sense of adventure. What will it be like? You’ll never know unless you vote Leave or vote for Trump… If you own a small business, it’s important to play up your underdog status by focusing on what you do differently to the big businesses. Handcrafted, artisanal products are huge USPs here.

Address a problem

The best way to construct your message is to start with the dichotomy of

problem : solution

Unfortunately, for the Remain campaign, they weren’t advocating change as such. Without a problem to rally against, it’s hard to drive an effective marketing campaign. It’s like trying to sell someone the current house they live in, where the owner knows all the faults, over the new flashy one they’ve only ever seen from the street, with the high-security gates and swimming pool (you’re sure you glimpsed a pool). Instead, the Remainers had to focus on preserving the same quality of life – it’s just not as exciting.

On the other hand, the Leave campaign identified a clear problem (immigration) and a clear solution (strengthen the borders – take back control). That’s not to say effective marketing should focus exclusively on negativity, but it can help to relate to your customer’s fears before knowing what the product is that they’ve been waiting for all these years – the product of their dreams that undoes all those fears. And remember, allowing your customer the chance to dream of a better future is a powerful marketing tool.

Use the language of the common people

Were you bogged down in the arguments, facts and stats of the EU Referendum? A handy fact is a great tool to persuade a buyer to purchase, but when your customer can’t see anything but complex arguments, they’re inclined to turn away.

This happened on both sides of the camp in the referendum, and Hillary Clinton has fallen prey to it in the US presidential election. We’ve heard lots of information from Hillary because, let’s face it, she’s the most experienced for the job. Yet Trump won. Have you ever heard Donald Trump utter a fact? No. He doesn’t have to because he can rely on simple, straight-forward, effective statements. And, if you don’t use facts, you don’t have to worry about being proven wrong.

‘You’ doesn’t work all the time

We’re often told in content marketing that appealing to ‘you’ is vital. Whether you’re writing a blog post or an advert – prioritise the reader. This is something the Remain campaign focused on a lot through their emphasis on better jobs.

But the exception to the rule is when you’re trying to activate the masses. Yes ‘you’ helps appeal to the individual, which is why it works well in text, where there is that intimate space between word and reader. But if you’re trying to instigate mass rebellion (or in the business sense, convert a lot of people away from a competitor and towards a new product, company or service) ‘we’ and ‘our’ is much more powerful.

Utilise social media

The Republican and the Leave campaigns have been phenomenal on social media because their simple messages can garner (often anonymous) widespread support quickly. And if they can gather it in huge swathes, people no longer have to feel like they have anything to hide, prompting more supporters to come out of the woodwork and giving credence to the cause.

For politics, social media is an easy way to reach the working classes and younger voters, but for any business, it’s a good way to connect with their customer and get a handle on their core demographic. Social media is an excellent way to distribute viral (shareable) media such as memes, videos, infographics – all of which can be used to promote the cause/business/key message of your campaign.

Always offer a softer middle ground

In all the debate over the EU Referendum and the US election, there have been many, many people expressing dissatisfaction at the lack of a third way. In this age of excess choice, people do not take kindly to having to choose between one thing or another. There is always that feeling of losing out.

In fact, when it comes to voting, many choose to express the third way by spoiling their ballot papers or simply not choosing to vote. In the EU Referendum, turnout was 72% which means roughly one-third of people chose neither to Leave nor Remain.

When you’re giving your customer a choice, such as with a subscription/membership or an offer of some kind, always make sure you provide a third option. This should be a best of both worlds – you will often find the middle choice gets the best results.

Hire a content writer

When you’re planning your next advertising campaign, bear these lessons in mind. Or hire a freelance content writer to take the burden off your hands and write your blog posts, print, social media – or other content – for you. Contact me today for your free quote and follow me on Twitter for the latest insight and offers.

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