Driving across Manhattan in an Uber last week, the driver had her radio playing Latin pop music. As the song ended, and the DJ transitioned to a commercial break, I heard a voice that I was surprised to hear.
It was Libertarian presidential candidate, Gary Johnson.
He spoke about the dangers of big government and the weaknesses of both the Democrats and the Republicans.
It seemed like a great way to reach a mainstream audience.
But how many people, exactly? And what results did it achieve? Would these radio listeners go on to vote for Gary? Or even visit his website where they could learn more about the Libertarian platform?
These are the challenges with traditional marketing and advertising: it’s expensive and hard to measure.
According to Entrepreneur.com, the average radio advertising costs between $2,000 and $3,000 per week plus production costs and typically requires a long time to begin seeing results.
In addition, there’s no way to know exactly how many people heard the message, let alone took a desired action as a result of it.
Were people actually listening? Or did they just have it on in the background? Are they any closer to voting Libertarian?
The New Rules of Political Marketing
The 2016 presidential election has shown us that the old rules of political marketing no longer apply.
You used to have to spend spend millions to get a message to the masses. But now, with the right strategies and tactics, a message can be spread to large quantities of a target audience at a fraction of the cost.
Marketing-savvy politicians already know about the benefits of digital marketing.
Donald Trump trounced the Republican primary and has achieved parity in the polls using social media, blogging and public speaking — on a fraction of the budget of Hillary Clinton.
According to AdAge, ”From July 14 through Nov. 7 (including advance buys), Mr. Trump and his PAC supporters have booked a mere $654,455 in TV and radio advertising — vs. $111 million by Hillary Clinton and pro-Clinton PACs.”
Despite the huge gap in spending, and political experience, Trump is on pace to become the next President of the United States.
This is while arguably having a harder sell than Hillary’s “free stuff” plus decades of experience and more detailed policy suggestions.
The Next Generation of Voters
Our parents and grandparents may vote based on these expensive and inefficient radio and television advertisements, but for the next generation of voters, it’s all about the Interwebs!
Young people read Medium. They watch YouTube. And they spend time on Twitter.
Yet, the Libertarian Party continues spending on radio and TV.
According to Reason, the Gary Johnson campaign will spend about $1 million on radio and digital billboards.
And let’s zoom out and be honest here for a minute: It’s not working.
While Gary’s recent press has been outstanding for the libertarian movement, it’s really just a blip on the long-term trend.
Since 1972, the Libertarian Party has only earned a single electoral vote and has only once earned more than 1% of the popular vote. Meanwhile, the size and scope of the US government has increased rapidly. It’s now the largest organization in the world and has over $18 trillion in debt.
It’s great to see Gary Johnson polling around 10%. It is. But if the Libertarian Party wants to reach beyond the rational thinking early adopter population, it needs new strategies.
Digital Marketing Ideas for the Libertarian Party
The digital marketing strategy that I think is particularly worth testing for the Libertarian Party is content marketing. Content marketing means publishing media (such as articles or podcasts) that are relevant and valuable to your target audience. As competition for attention increases, it’s more important than ever to provide a positive experience, as opposed to a nagging advertisement. In addition, by publishing content, as opposed to relying on press coverage, you own the message.
Another great benefit of content marketing is that once it’s been published, it’s an asset that lives on forever. Unlike radio or TV advertising, there is no cost to maintain it and an unlimited number of people can potentially view it.
Here are three ideas for the Libertarian Party to get started with:
1. Create a funnel
The best marketing strategies are built on understanding human behavior. One behavior that’s critical to understand is that people will not magically listen to an advertisement or read an article and then buy a product — or vote for a presidential candidate. They need to be guided.
Donald Trump does a great job of this by prominently displaying an email opt-in form on his homepage. Then, using email marketing, he can re-engage with his audience and increase the chances that they will actually vote for him.
Hillary Clinton is not doing such a great job with this. When you visit her website, you get bombarded by an annoying pop up window that serves no purpose:
2. Leverage Medium to reach target demographics
Medium is a network similar to Twitter or YouTube, but for long-form written content. It’s a publication, but without the gatekeepers — anyone can contribute. Medium provides the opportunity to reach large quantities of people and engage with them in a meaningful way.
There seems to be a large contingent of liberals on Medium that I think could be an excellent demographic to reach out to if Trump wins. Even Hillary is on Medium. And she seems to be getting some strong results from it.
3. Analyze and optimize
One of the great benefits of digital marketing is all the tools that help with quantifying results to determine what works best.
So, when it comes determining the best digital marketing strategies, data is king. Knowing and starting with established best practices helps you get started, however, humans are unpredictable creatures. Analytics can help tell you exactly what’s working, what’s not, and what to do next to get even better results.
If Trump wins, there will be a large contingent of liberals who will be wary of big government. This is a huge opportunity for the Libertarian Party in 2020 and beyond.
Trump — love him or hate him — is already showing that digital marketing is an effective way to spread a message (without spending hundreds of millions).
If a fraction of the resources spent on traditional advertising were spent on digital content and amplification, the Libertarian Party can reach and engage large quantities of target demographics.
The Libertarian Party has the principles. And the timing is right. With the right marketing strategies, we can make government smaller.
Screw the Debate Commission. Let’s make our own publicity.
This is part one of a two part series. Part two will cover how to determine what messages to include in the content.
Do you think the Libertarian Party should do digital marketing? Send me a tweet @mfishbein.
This article was edited for grammar, style, and spelling, but not for content. The views expressed are that of the author, Mike Fishbein, exclusively, and do not reflect that of BeingLibertarian.com or Being Libertarian LLC
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