I’m not a political junkie, but a marketing junkie, and political campaigns are really just marketing campaigns.

The last two major U.S. presidential elections have been driven by database marketing, and since that is what I primarily do, I really try to follow what campaigns are doing because they are the ones always pushing the boundaries in database marketing.

Database marketing is using data on customers to target and tailor marketing to them.

What I learned from the last presidential campaign is that the same tools available to a major campaign are also available (and affordable) to small companies like mine.

Really the only difference is that they have a lot more data on each one of us – like thousands of points on each of us.  But, a lot of that data we can buy from data brokers already. I already do some of that with my customer database.

Database marketing is entering a golden age because there is more and more data being collected on each one of us and there really is nothing we can do about it.

And, there are more and more ways each one of us can be targeted. Unless we completely go hermit and disassociate ourselves with consuming all media and interacting with others it will only increase.

And, database marketing works, because that is how the last few major presidential campaigns were won. So if it works, you can bet they will be doing more of it.

But, winning it is not just about targeting.  It is about the right product.

Actually, a well-known direct marketing equation is that conversion = 40% targeting + 40% offer + 20% everything else.

I think the product – the candidate –  will be the ones that best capitalize on influencing these emotional triggers:  sadness, anxiety (or fear) and anger.

Why do I say that?  Because, these emotional triggers have shown to work exceptionally well in all marketing – whether it’s getting us to buy a product or vote for a candidates – because WE respond to them, so why would candidates not use them?

So if we conclude:

  1. Database marketing works spectacularly well (the targeting);
  2. Creating a product that taps into our sadness, anxiety/fear and anger works spectacularly well (the offer),

Then the next winner will be the one that best executes on these.

The takeaway for us product marketers is to learn what works and see if we can adapt that to our marketing.

The takeaway for us as individual consumers is to be on guard for getting marketing messages from candidates that stoke these negative emotions, because at the end of the day, a political candidate is just a marketer trying to sell a product.