This election season, it doesn’t matter which way you voted, or who you most wanted to win – this was hands down the craziest election in some time, and it’s likely you looked like the woman above when the final results were in. As a data geek, I have been fascinated throughout the entire process. Once the election was over, I was eager to see the post election analysis – how could so many get it wrong and the country be so surprised with Trump’s win?
I wanted the dust to settle and look at all the theories before writing this. It took some time for the shock to wear off in the media so they could start looking at what happened. It looks like there is one theory out there that played a big role in Clinton’s loss, and it is a good lesson for marketers.
The initial thought was “How could the polls be so wrong?” Now that we’ve got some time behind us, we’re seeing they really weren’t that wrong. Clinton does lead in the popular vote by quite a significant difference. So, if the polls weren’t that off, what happened exactly?
In listening to a few post election analysis segments, it was interesting to me that one theory rests on simple marketing. Clinton perhaps did not do enough research into what the electorate looks like in terms of economy, demographics, and the like. It is thought that she was following the 2012 model, especially since part of her strategy appeared to be creating a third Obama term. She gauged her campaign based on the data from 2012.
The problem? The electorate in 2016 is not the same electorate. Things have changed, demographics have shifted, and in essence it’s a different “customer” than it was four years ago.
This is where Clinton may have gone wrong; she didn’t get a handle on her true “customer” and therefore, her message was not effective enough to lead to the landslide victory that many were predicting.
As a marketer, this is fascinating and important to remember – your customer of yesterday may not be your customer today, and by making the assumption that things are as they have been, it can be detrimental to your marketing efforts.
What can you, as a marketer, do to ensure you are aware of your ever changing customer and market appropriately?
Continually review data: take a look at your data on a regular basis. Do you see any shifts in trends? Are people spending more or less? Is there a shift to an increase in online vs in store visits? Any changes should be investigated further to learn how your customer base may be changing.
Keep in touch with your customers: feedback programs are not only helpful to gauge satisfaction & loyalty. They can be a key indicator of a shift in your customer base. Continually monitor feedback and make sure you are reaching new customers – don’t solely focus on those who participate in a loyalty program, for example. This may be a segment of your customer base that may be more traditional in how you see your consumer demographics, but there may be a new segment you’re not seeing.
Use social media research: this is another tool that can give great insight into your industry. While many brands will use social media monitoring to keep tabs on their customers, another great use is to expand the social research to your competitors and industry as a whole. See what people are saying about products/services in your industry – are their expectations, pain points, and satisfaction standards changing at all compared to what they once were? If so, you may be targeting the wrong customer base if you’re using “old” marketing.
This was no doubt the most painful loss Clinton has ever experienced; candidates in future elections will study her strategy and learn from it, no doubt. There were also many good lessons for marketers to learn as well. Keeping tabs on customers and realizing that changes will happen over time is one key to ensuring your marketing message stays relevant and effective down the road.