As American voters cast their ballots between now and Nov. 6 to elect the next U.S. president (and decide other pertinent political issues), savvy small-business owners are using the media hype to bolster their bottom lines.
Here are six tips for turning Election Day buzz into sales:
1. Run an Election Day promotion. Take a cue from Chipotle Mexican Grill. Patrons who wear a Halloween costume to dine at one of its restaurants after 4 p.m. on Oct. 31 receive a discounted price, the proceeds of which (up to $1 million) will go to its charitable foundation. Your company could host an Election Day promotion that offers customers something for free or at a reduced price if they wear their “I Voted” sticker.
2. Help to educate voters about candidates and issues. If it’s appropriate for your business, educate your customers and your community about election issues. Offer voting guides, sponsor a roundtable with a local politician, or throw a voting night watch party. If it’s too late to organize these events for the 2012 presidential election, make plans for a future election in your community.
3. Get out the vote. Every marketing email you send to customers should have a purpose: Use Election Day as one. After you remind people to vote and include helpful details (such as a link to local polling-place information), add an “oh, by the way” note that announces an upcoming sale or a new product.
4. Newsjack. Newsjacking is taking a trending topic that’s receiving a lot of media attention and adding a unique promotion or event that makes your business part of the story. JetBlue is doing it. The airline is offering its U.S. customers a chance to win one of more than 1,000 free flights out of the country if their presidential candidate loses on Nov. 6. They just need to vote in its online poll before Election Day. This clever promotion has resulted in extra attention for the airline on the back of the presidential race. How could you newsjack this election or a future one in your community or state?
5. Express humorous outrage. Who attacks Big Bird? Why, Mitt Romney, of course. His pledge to cut funding to PBS during the first debate in the 2012 presidential race gained the network increased national attention. According to one expert, this could be “fundraising gold” for PBS. If a certain candidate is elected, could your small business suffer? Voice your concern by putting a funny, Big Bird-style twist on your advertising to draw attention.
6. Conduct market research. While voting dominates the media, use the theme to collect new customer data. Leverage people’s “voting” mind-set to conduct market research. Conduct a survey asking customers to vote for their favorite products or services, or simply ask their opinion about an upcoming new offering.
Presidential elections naturally generate more media hype, but don’t underestimate the marketing power of the frequent local elections in your community. Look for opportunities to generate buzz around city, county, and state elections, too.