The election is finally over, and now we have had a chance to digest and let the emotion turn to rational thinking. The analysis of how things played out may last until talk about the 2016 election begins, which could be less than a year away.
Aside from all of the partisanship and ugly rhetoric that characterized this election season, there actually surfaced a few important lessons that could be valuable to an entrepreneur. When you think about it, after all, candidates for political office are like entrepreneurs in a lot of ways. The campaign becomes a business, marketing and revenue are needed, and the “sale” is the candidate him or herself. Although there are numerous lessons that could be learned from both parties, these are the five that came to my mind.
- It’s not just about money: Much time and energy was spent focusing on which candidates were getting money from where, how much money they were getting, and how that compared with their opponents. What the election revealed is that often the candidate who had raised LESS money won. Money is important, of course, but spending it wisely is the most important thing to focus on.
- Don’t smother people: Living in the swing state of Ohio, I can tell you there was no fondness for the amount of political ads both parties subjected us to. Eventually, people will simply start to phase you out, and then your message, no matter how well-crafted, will do you no good. Make your marketing about quality, not quantity.
- On message from top to bottom: As a company, it is essential that everyone know what your brand is, what your mission is, and what your vision is, from the C-suite down. In the aftermath of the election, the Republican Party seems to be suffering from internal disagreement as to what their brand actually is, and this uncertainty played a major role in some of the outcomes they saw this year.
- Know your customers. Know your audience: Both parties had very clear ideas about how they wanted to reach, or rather who they needed to reach effectively in order to win. In the days following the election, many Republicans noted that the party over-emphasized one demographic – white men. As an entrepreneur, you cannot afford to focus on one group of potential customers at the expense of others. Moreover, you need to make sure your message will work across your audience spectrum.
- Part company with grace: When it was clear that Mitt Romney had lost the election, all of his aides discovered quickly that their credit cards had been canceled. Their work was done and they were abruptly let go. While this might make sense logically, for entrepreneurs it is important to never burn bridges. You never know when a person or a company might be able to help you in a pinch. If you leave them on bad terms, they most certainly will not be excited about helping you out when you most need it.
Of course, one could argue that the overriding lesson of this past election season is that being unpleasant does not win you any brownie points, at least not most of the time. Even if you are reacting to something that someone else has said, if people see you behaving in a less than professional way, you are the one that will be viewed as less credible, less stable, or less disciplined. This is true across the board, from how you act within your own company walls to your marketing and sales efforts to your personal social media presence. There is always someone watching these days. What message do you want to send?
What lessons have you been able to garner from this crazy election season? We’d love to hear your thoughts!