3 Things Businesses Can Learn from the 2016 Election

First, let me say that this post isn’t about politics, it’s about messaging.  In fact, Hillary didn’t lose because of politics, she lost because she made three critical mistakes.  These are the same mistakes businesses make every day.

1. Hillary positioned herself as the hero. 

Every day people wake up as the hero in their own stories.

Think about it, you’re the star of your own movie… you’re the main character. You aren’t looking for someone else to be the hero in your story, you’re the hero.

What you’re looking for is a guide.  You’re looking for someone to show you how to navigate through this world, how to solve the problems you face.  You’re looking for someone who will show you how to win the day and be the hero you were born to be.

Hillary Clinton’s slogan was, I’m with her.  Who’s the hero in that story?  Hillary Clinton.  Voters were not looking for another hero to enter in to their story. They’re looking for a guide.

When we position ourselves as the hero in our customer’s story, they don’t identify with us. 

However, if we can position ourselves as the guide to the hero, Obi-won to Luke Skywalker, Gandalf to Frodo, then our customers will gladly welcome us in to their story.

Let’s look at a few recent campaigns:
John McCain, Bob Dole, John Kerry, all war heroes. Yet, all of them lost to candidates with little to no military experience.

George H.W. Bush (41) was a war hero, but he never talked about it on his campaign.

What if Hilary’s slogan was, “She’s with us”?

Our customers are not looking for another hero, they’re looking for a guide that will help them win the day.

2. Hillary’s message wasn’t clear.

Let me ask you this question: What did Hillary Clinton want to do with America?

Chances are, you really had to think about that one.

Now, let me ask you this: What did Donald Trump want to do with America?

Whether you voted for him or not, the image of a red trucker hat with a clear message in white letters popped in your mind.

It wasn’t just a Hillary problem.  What did Jeb Bush want to do with America?  Marco Rubio?  Asking these questions leaves us scratching our heads.

While we may have preferred one candidate over another, the simple fact is, people don’t always follow the best leader, they follow the leader they can understand.

“Make America Great Again” was simple, clear, and to the point. Whether you like him or not, the candidate with the clearest message won.

Donald Trump had more negative media coverage than any other candidate.

Everything was going against him, yet he was unwavering with one clear message, and in the end, it worked.

3. Hillary used “insider language” voters didn’t understand.

This is a common problem with most business leaders.  “The Curse of Knowledge” is when we’re so close to our product or brand that we have a difficult time seeing what our customers see.

Hillary is a career politician.  She spoke a language that 98% of the country does not speak.

Her campaign promises included things like: “We will do everything we can to overturn Citizens United”, “Pass comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship that keeps families together”, “Say no to attacks on working families and no to bad trade deals and unfair trade practices, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership.”

Compare those to Donald Trump’s: “Build a wall’ — and make Mexico pay for it”, “Renegotiate the Iran deal”, “Cut taxes”. 

The country is pretty evenly split on their preferences for each of these campaign promises… the advantage Trump had was messaging. He didn’t use “insider language” and he communicated most of his speeches, talking points, and campaign promises on a third grade level.

Now, we might laugh at that last one, but experts say that the best sales and marketing pitches are those that are kept at a third – fourth grade level.  When you do that, you speak to everyone, not just a certain demographic.

Here’s The Point.

Our words matter more than we know.

When we clarify our message our customers begin to pay attention.

What does your messaging look like?  Scan your website, emails, and other marketing collateral and ask this question: Are the words I’m using clearly stating what we do, the problems we help solve and how doing business with us makes our customers’ lives better?  If not, most likely you don’t have a product problem, you have a messaging problem.

If you’re ready to watch your company soar to new heights, schedule a call with us today.  We’ll work together to create a clear and simple message so your customers start paying attention.