In marketing and advertising, staying ahead of the curve and being prepared to pivot when necessary is crucial. One challenge that businesses face is how to market themselves effectively when political campaigns are pouring endless amounts of money into media advertising. According to AdImpact, the 2023-2024 election cycle will be the most expensive to date, with a projected $10.2 billion in political advertising expenditures. This is a 13 percent increase over the previous record of $9.02 billion that was set during the 2019-2020 cycle. We can anticipate a media space inundated with political messaging, particularly in battleground states like Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and others.
So how do businesses maintain market visibility during these times? As an advertising and marketing agency, we have some proven tactics to not just survive but thrive amid the political advertising madness.
- Define Your Unique Value Proposition
What sets your business apart from the competition? In an overwhelming sea of political messages, it’s essential to articulate clearly what makes your company unique. Start by identifying your core strengths, values, and the benefits you offer to your customers. Craft a compelling message that resonates with your target audience and emphasizes the value you bring into their lives.
- Consider the Market
When you are up against wall-to-wall political ads, consider alternative programming, networks, or media. Options include:
• Independent networks
• Alternative shows
• Outdoor advertising
- Capitalize on Digital Channels
While political campaigns tend to focus on traditional media channels, many are adopting a digital approach. Moving more of your budget over to digital is a smart move when political spending is heavy, however, there will still be some impact on metrics like CPM (cost-per-thousand reached) and concepts like brand safety. Some tips for optimizing your digital ads:
• CPMs for Display, Video, OTT (over the top), and CTV (connected TV) campaigns will likely spike during political windows regardless of your business type. To avoid higher competition, you can specify a news or political audience as a negative audience and avoid these ads as much as possible.
• Many political campaigns leverage RON ads (run-of-network), meaning their ads can show to anyone in that channel and there is little to no audience targeting. Focus on your audience to avoid much of the political spending.
• Try new channels. While political ads tend to adopt newer strategies quickly, the playing field will be more even. Test out Podcasts, DOOH (Digital Out of Home), or even In-Game advertising.
• Adopt a 1st-party data strategy and use this information for audience building. This not only helps with digital media efficiency, but it can also help to negate political spending windows.
• Be mindful of the ads and stories your ads are showing against. While candidates and issue campaigns are the primary political spenders, this is also a high time for disinformation, special-interest groups, and outside players to spend on political ads. If a placement or channel doesn’t align with your brand message, cut it.
- Plan and Buy Early
Legally qualified political candidates receive lowest unit rates (LUR) for TV ads (60 days before a general or run-off election and 45 days before a primary or caucus election), meaning they get the benefit of all volume discounts without having to buy in volume. The candidate gets the same rate for buying one spot as the most favored advertiser would get for buying hundreds of spots of the same class. By planning and buying early, you can increase your chances of securing a spot and plan your budget accordingly. A general rule of thumb is that the first in = last out.
• Consider purchasing annual packages and sponsorships, as these are protected from LUR periods.
• Try to avoid the programs that politicians buy, primarily the news and primetime TV.
• Consider purchasing 15-second spots. Politicians typically run 30-second spots, so those are likely to be harder to secure.
- Leverage Social Media Wisely
Social media platforms are a powerful tool for reaching your audience directly. During heavy political spending periods, these platforms can also become crowded with political content. To cut through the noise:
• Timing is everything: Post your content strategically when political ads are less likely to dominate the feeds, such as early mornings or weekends.
• Paid Promotions: Consider boosting your social media posts to increase visibility. Social media advertising can be highly targeted to reach specific demographics, ensuring your message reaches the right audience.
• Engagement and Interaction: Make sure you are posting engaging content and interacting with your followers regularly.
- Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing can be a game-changer in a crowded advertising landscape. Collaborating with influencers who align with your brand can help you reach a wider and more engaged audience. Be sure the influencers you choose to work with genuinely believe in your product or service to maintain authenticity.
- Participate in Community Initiatives
Participating in local community initiatives can help you create a positive image and build strong connections. These are a few excellent ways to reach a new audience, promote your business, and demonstrate your commitment to the well-being of your target market:
• Sponsor local events.
• Support local charities.
• Partner with local businesses to cross-promote your products or services.
- Monitor and Adapt
Constantly monitor the political advertising landscape and adjust your strategies accordingly. If certain keywords or topics are dominating the conversation, adjust your content to stay relevant. Additionally, monitor customer sentiment and feedback to make more real-time adjustments to your messaging.
- Be Patient and Consistent
It is important to be patient and consistent with your efforts, especially during times of heavy political spending. It may take some time to see results, but if you are consistent, you can reach your target audience.
Successfully marketing your company during an election requires strategy, consistency, flexibility, and a commitment to staying true to your brand’s core values. The strategies outlined here will help your business not only weather the political storm but thrive in an oversaturated, competitive market.
At St. Gregory, we understand the challenge of navigating the ever-changing landscape of marketing and advertising. If you need assistance in developing a tailored strategy to stand out during these times, we’re here to help. Contact us today to explore how we can work together to elevate your brand and achieve your goals.