What Your Small Business Can Learn from the Presidential Election

Today is election day in the United States and every blogger is turning out scores of content around the event, and no doubt will for the foreseeable future. That is the nature of blogging. Using a major events like elections, and even hurricanes, to illustrate a point or drive home an idea. It works simply because the association elevates our content into a category that people are already hungry to learn more about. While that is a grew technique, there really is a lesson to be learned from the campaigns this year about how to engage your potential and existing clients.

The past presidential election was all about social media and other online media and how Obama used it successfully to get out the vote and ultimately win the election. While I believe that was a bit overblown, the fact that online and social media was used at all was powerful in an of itself.

This year’s presidential election, however, has shown the shortcomings of social media and online media. Campaigns still make use of those tools, but they also rely on traditional media and the good old fashion human touch. In fact, the human interaction of the campaigns is the primary focus. Ask yourself, why do campaigns with plenty of money to invest in a variety of media focus more on phone calls, knocking on doors, and shaking hands? It works.

Obama’s campaign is rather famous for its network of paid and volunteer workers that reach out to voters to get them to the polls. They go to great lengths to make this happen and devote a lot of time and personal effort knocking on doors, providing information, and driving people to their polling station. Sure, they tweet, post to Facebook, use PPC ads, and throw up banners, but they rely most heavily on the tool of human interaction. It may not be the most efficient way to gain a vote, but it is certainly the most effective.

Even the presidential candidates themselves reach out to voters directly. They still use television commercials, radio spots, billboard, and other traditional media, but again, the human touch–the candidates going to rallies and shaking hands–is the primary focus. They do this simply because it works. Asking for someone vote in person is highly effective.

Social media and online media have limitations. Campaigns have a significant amount of money, far more than you and your small business, available to them for all kinds of media usage, traditional and otherwise, yet they still focus on the in person contact. The reason is simple. That is the best way to get a vote.

As a small business, without that kind of money available, it’s tempting to focus solely on social media or other online media because it’s an inexpensive and efficient way to reach out to your audience. Unfortunately, it isn’t nearly as effective. Place a large focus on reaching out directly to potential clients. Use your telephone to call them, go to networking events, and get in front of them in person to ask for their business. Actual personal, real life interaction with your potential clients is the most powerful way to make a sale (your version of a vote).

Don’t forget about your existing clients. Visit their offices, take them out to lunch, or make a phone call. Thank them for their business and ask them if there is anything you can do for them. An email just isn’t as powerful as picking up the phone and inviting them to lunch. Real world interaction and engagement remain the most effective way of building and growing your business.

Presidential campaigns focus heavily on personal interactions, speeches, and hand shaking because it is the most effective way to get a vote. Your small business should keep that in mind when seeking to build and grow. You might be able to get a sale through Twitter, maybe even through a traditional ad in a trade magazine, but the most effective way is to ask for their business in person.

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